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TORONTO — How seriously is Le Boat taking its launch into the Canadian market? The company is in the process of relocating its North American headquarters from its current Florida address all the way up to Smiths Falls, Ontario, right on the Rideau Canal where Le Boat will introduce boat vacation rentals starting in May 2018.
Le Boat is eager to work with the travel trade here in Canada, looking to make waves in this market now that it has conquered Europe. Billed as Europe’s number one boating vacation company, Le Boat just launched its 2018 brochure featuring the latest cruising experiences both in Europe and, starting next year, Canada with new Rideau Canal vacations.
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“We are very interested in working with travel agents who are interested in working with us,” says Le Boat’s Managing Director, Cheryl Brown. “Travel agents are very important to Le Boat.”
More than half – about 55% – of Le Boat’s bookings are generated by travel agents, she adds.
One of the company’s leading source markets, Germany, accounts for one-quarter of Le Boat’s bookings. And half of those bookings come through travel agents. Brown says she sees a lot of similarities between the German and Canadian markets and expects bookings here to follow a similar pattern. “I think the Canadian market is very similar to the German market – it’s more traditional and more likely to book through a travel agent,” she said at an industry lunch event yesterday.
Le Boat’s Rideau Canal season will start May 18, 2018 and run through early October, she adds.
Le Boat is putting 16 vessels designed for multi-day outings along the Rideau Canal for the first summer. As part of that fleet, Le Boat will introduce two brand new boat models to accommodate larger groups. The company’s newest fleet of Horizon boats sees a new five-cabin addition in 2018 and sleeps up to 12 people. First introduced in 2016, the Horizon cruisers include a spacious sundeck with a barbeque and sunbathing area, a light and airy saloon, and a fully equipped kitchen with oversized windows.
Meanwhile the new slick Minuetto 8+ boat in the waterways of Italy has four cabins and can fit up to 10 people. Its modern design includes a front and rear thruster for easy handling, air-conditioning and a dishwasher to match guests’ expectations for a smoother and more comfortable experience.
Vacationers have been doing the self-drive boating thing along Europe’s waterways with Le Boat for years now, discovering France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Germany, England, Ireland and Scotland from their own sundeck.
Houseboats are a familiar sight along Canadian waterways but Le Boat intends to offer a more upmarket experience in its first year in Canada, to distinguish itself from competitors.
Vacationers opting for a self-drive boating vacation don’t need any special licenses or experience. “You come aboard and we show you everything you need to know during a briefing and demonstration. Then you’re off enjoying your vacation. It’s like driving a car, but much easier and more relaxing,” says the company’s website.
Brown says she’s excited to announce all of Le Boat’s additions in 2018, including the launch of the Rideau Canal system to visitors from around the world. “The canal was opened in 1832 and is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. Le Boat customers will be able to enjoy travelling in a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in luxury,” said Brown.
“The Horizon boats have been a popular choice for vacationers and with the introduction of our new model, we will be able to accommodate larger groups looking to explore our waterways in lavish comfort and exquisite style.”