Every captain needs a first mate. And at Virgin Voyages, the adults-only cruise line set to debut in 2020, its second-in-command will be none other than travel agents.
TORONTO — The Travel Corporation’s ultra high-end Luxury Gold brand has been such a success that, new for 2018, the company will be expanding its reach with new customized, bespoke journeys. Travel agents in attendance at yesterday’s Insight Vacations & Luxury Gold applauded the news, underscoring what Insight Vacations President Brad Ford calls a very positive reception to the Luxury Gold brand in the Canadian market.
New Luxury Gold trips for 2018 include ‘Timeless Scandinavia’, ‘Captivating Croatia & Montegnegro’, ‘Inspiring New Zealand’, ‘Spectacular South Africa’ with an exclusive excursion to the heights of Table Mountain, and ‘Majestic Japan’, where guests have the chance to meet a samurai.
Ford stresses that Luxury Gold trips “are not tours”. They veer more to trips of a lifetime, and Ford should know, having just returned from Luxury Gold’s ‘Ultimate Italy’. “I’ve been to Italy many times and I thought I’d experienced the best the country had to offer,” said Ford. “But I’ve never experienced Italy like this. This is not a tour. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.”
From the luxury hotels, chosen based on a strict criteria that covers everything from location to service to vistas, views, history and culture, to the dining, to the attention to detail orchestrated by the Travelling Concierge – there’s one for every trip – the Luxury Gold experience was “seamless”, says Ford. “It reconnected us to the Italy of our dreams. It truly is a paradigm shift.” He adds: “Never in my life have I been so pleasantly surprised on a daily basis.”
Luxury Gold now represents the most upscale offering in The Travel Corporation’s 24+ brands, and clients can take it even one step further with the Chairman’s Collection, part of a boutique collection within the Luxury Gold lineup that includes experiences handpicked by none other than, naturally, The Travel Corporation’s Chairman Stanley Tollman. “He is a connected individual and he wanted to add experiences with that extra special sparkle,” said Ford.
Travel agents already understand the Luxury Gold brand well and in fact it was agents who asked for Luxury Gold to be spun off as its own independent brand, with its own brochure, says Ford. “It happened very organically,” he says, adding that “we had the opportunity to talk to our key retail partners about Luxury Gold and they were super excited to get their hands on the Luxury Gold experiences.”
Brett Tollman, The Travel Corporation’s CEO, says there is definite growth for the Luxury Gold brand in Canada year over year. “Fortunately there are people who love it and are passionate about it.”
Launching alongside the Luxury Gold 2018 brochure at yesterday’s industry lunch at Canoe restaurant was Insight Vacations’ 2018 Europe lineup, offering Premium Escorted Journeys in Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Iceland, Spain, Morocco, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Croatia, the Baltic States, Russia and the Eastern Med.
Insight’s VP Sales, Carla Brake, was on hand to present the 2018 program. “It’s all about delivering magical experiences that are personal, stylish and seamless,” said Brake.
Unique Insight experiences range from an opportunity to meet an olive farmer in Tuscany, complete with an olive oil tasting session and a beautifully presented lunch, to meeting an apple cider maker near a Norwegian fjord, or an oyster fisherman in Croatia.
The foodie theme continues with Insight’s restaurant offering. “Our guests tell us that dining is really important to them,” says Brake, noting that Insight guests on select itineraries have the chance to dining in the homes of locals, to add an authentic touch to their travel experience.
Insight guests also travel and stay “in style”, with handpicked hotels notable for their locations.
Insight’s eight new European Discoveries trips range from nine to 19 days. They include the nine-day Taste of Europe, the nine-day Flavours of Europe, the 10-day European Rhapsody and the 18-day Mediterranean Journey.
Insight’s four trip styles are Regional Experiences, Country Roads, Easy Pace and Discovery Journeys. “We’re the only operator with Premium Guided Vacations,” notes Brake. Insight’s goal is to give its guests a travel experience that is truly hassle-free, she adds. “We’re with you all the way. We’re built on family values and we listen to and value feedback from our guests.”
Insight is among The Travel Corporation’s brands that’s bringing in new requirements for client contact information registration. It makes sense from a safety standpoint, says Brake, plus the company can use the client contact info to get in touch with guests before the trip, “to get their feedback about what they’re looking for from their trip. We relay that information to the tour directors and they use these details to help make the guest’s trip even more special.”