TORONTO — More than 16,000 Canadian passengers travelled through Europe on Eurail trains in 2016, and while it was a tough year from all inbound markets the rail company saw an uptick from Canada in the last few months.
“It was a challenging year for us but especially from Canada we’ve been recovering since October 2016,” said Clarissa Mattos, Market Manager, Americas & Pacific, for Eurail Group. That’s when forward sales started to pick up.
It didn’t hurt that Eurail launched its annual end of year promotion in mid-November, offering 20% off all Eurail passes for 2017 travel. The deal was available through the end of last year and not surprisingly “we had an extraordinary December from Canada,” said Mattos.
Recently Eurail brought back its popular ‘Extra Days Promotion’, offering travellers up to five additional free travel days on all Eurail Passes purchased now through March 31.
The limited-time offer is available across Eurail’s entire portfolio of passes, from the Global Pass to the One Country Pass, and can be purchased up to 11 months before departure.
These generous savings are on top of the regular year-round perks that come with purchasing a Pass, like no luggage fees, no pricey airport transfers, city centre arrivals and children 11 years of age and under travel free.
Other benefits of a Eurail Pass include free access to VIP lounges in the main train stations of Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Global Passes are a big seller from Canada, amounting to half of Eurail’s sales from this market. Global Passes give visitors the flexibility to explore up to 28 European countries at their own pace.
The Eurail Select and One Country Passes, meanwhile, provide a number of itinerary options by rail and sea for guests wanting to experience between one and four participating Eurail countries.
Eurail has 22 One Country Passes. Passes for Spain and Portugal showed a lot of growth in 2016, says Mattos. Scandinavia was up too. All were seen as ‘safe haven’ destinations by travellers determined to head to Europe last year.
A new Eurail France Pass is selling well, notes Mattos. As a destination France had a rockier year than most but there’s no denying the country’s long-term allure. As Mattos says with a smile, “they have the Eiffel Tower.” Eurail’s Italy Switzerland Pass, also new, is selling very well too. Eurail is now including Switzerland’s much-loved Glacier Express in its Passes.
Eurail has also bumped up the maximum age for its Eurail Youth Pass, to 27 years old and younger, so more travellers can take advantage of Youth Pass discounts worth 35% off standard adult prices. Almost 4 in 10 (39%) of Canadians travelling with Eurail are purchasing Youth Passes, says Mattos. Some 57% buy adult passes and 4% are booking Eurail Child Passes, which are free for young travellers ages 4 to 11. Kids under the age of 4 on their first day of travel ride free as well and don’t need a pass.
Travelling via Eurail isn’t just about transportation, says Mattos. “It’s a way of discovering Europe.” Eurail is looking to expand its value proposition for travellers with special deals like its exclusive 20 euro discount off pre-booked entrance tickets to Disneyland Paris, for all Eurail Pass holders.
For travel agents, Eurail offers discounted fares (up to 75% off). It’s also looking at a specialist program for the retail trade. “We’re working on it,” says Mattos. For product information see eurail.com or one of Eurail’s GSAs including Rail Europe at raileurope.ca.