TORONTO — Goway’s push to aggressively grow its Europe sales will get a big boost this January with a major new campaign targeting spring and summer 2018.
The appointment of industry veteran Craig Canvin to the Goway team as VP, UK & Europe, announced yesterday, gives the company the leadership it needs to take its Europe program to the next level. Before coming to Goway, Canvin held senior positions at Kensington Tours and with Thomas Cook’s Independent Travel Division focusing on companies including Holiday House and Fun Sun.
As reported in the Nov. 16 issue of Travelweek, Goway’s Founder and President Bruce Hodge says his goal is to grow Goway’s UK and Europe business to be as big as the company’s Downunder business – that includes Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific islands – in 3 years.
Up until now Goway has been quietly but steadily building its Europe program, biding its time and opting for organic growth rather than come out with all guns blazing. But that’s about to change.
Goway carved out such a niche with long-haul travel from Canada to Australia that it almost created the market. Two years ago, without neglecting its Downunder base, Goway set its sights on the UK and Europe.
Currently the Downunder countries, including the South Pacific islands, represent 45% of Goway’s business while Europe represents 5%, says Hodge. Goway’s other destinations including Africa & the Middle East, Asia, the Arctic and Antarctica and Central & South America make up the balance.
While there’s no full-on, large-scale Europe brochure (not yet, anyway, beyond the current 8-page mini-brochure), there is a lot of product, in more than 40 countries and principalities. Goway.com lists more than 500 FIT and customizable Europe trip ideas, more than any other Goway destination except Downunder which has 956.
Goway didn’t start out with Australia, a common assumption. When Goway opened in Toronto in 1970 Australia was a minor destination for the company, and Europe and the Americas were the specialty. The Downunder product evolved in the 1980s and 1990s and grew exponentially. Europe got sidelined but it never left the lineup completely; Goway’s GroupsOnly team has been booking groups to Europe for more than 20 years.
Did Goway break into Europe because there was softening in other markets? “None of our markets are softening, in fact they are all growing significantly and October was the biggest month ever for Africa and Downunder,” says Hodge.
He adds: “We have held back on Europe because we didn’t want to dilute our expertise in our other destinations. To avoid laying off good staff during Ebola a couple of years ago, we started investing in an infrastructure to properly build Europe. A statistic that said 40% of Americans travelling internationally go to Europe while only 2% go to Oceania, convinced us we were on the right track.”
Goway’s forward European bookings are looking good “because we are coming from a low base”, says Hodge, adding, “for similar reasons we have not been affected by the dreadful terrorism attacks in Europe. Part of Goway’s success is that we have a high repeat client factor because we’ve focused on Globetrotters. Such world travellers are not as afraid of bad events as the average traveller is. We also know these travellers won’t travel to Australia or India or Africa for a week – but they will go to Europe for a week.”
Hodge’s biggest concern when it comes to Europe is the long low season.
Unexpected world events including acts of terrorism have hit Europe hard in recent years but tourism and the travel industry are proving surprisingly resilient. The latest figures from StatsCan, looking at Canadian travel patterns month-by-month, show that nearly 1.1 million Canadian residents travelled to overseas countries in August 2017, up 5.6% year-over-year. Europe gets the majority of those overseas trips out of Canada. StatsCan says the 1.1 million Canadians travelling overseas was the highest figure for the month of August since its record-keeping began in 1972.
More Canadians are heading to Europe in the low winter season too. According to Conference Board of Canada figures analyzed by Tourism Intelligence, in 2015-2016 (the most recent year figures were available) the number of Canadians travelling to Europe in the winter months was up 6.2%. Tourism Ireland has been promoting low-season tourism for several years now and other UK and European destinations are promoting not just off-season travel but travel to alternative cities, away from the big draws, as well.
Meanwhile the weak pound, fuelled by the Brexit effect, has been a boon for inbound operators and Britain’s inbound tourism numbers from markets including Canada are up. Despite concerns about unexpected world events, travel to Europe has maintained surprising momentum and even delivered upticks for inbound operators.