Collette’s evolution: No discounting, no poaching & more choice
From l-r: Brett Walker, General Manager; Ron Lonsdale, Director Strategic Partnerships; Nalinie Sharma, Marketing Manager; Brittany McFarlane, Marketing Coordinator; Doug Patterson, President, Canada.

Collette’s evolution: No discounting, no poaching & more choice

TORONTO — You’re getting more for what you pay for when booking with Collette, which is what President-Canada Doug Patterson told trade partners at an industry lunch in Toronto yesterday.

Patterson, who is fresh off a cross-country product launch tour, said that the message of Collette “giving more” is particularly relevant considering the “ton of challenges” the industry has faced in the past couple years. With recent global terror attacks and Brexit causing uncertainty in the marketplace, travel, said Patterson, is no longer considered a luxury – it’s now a necessity of life.

“When you funnel everything down and get to the heart of it all, our job is simple: to fulfill dreams,” he said.

Collette, which is approaching its centennial in 2018, is doing its best to shatter the age-old myth of guided travel – strict schedules, little free time, and overbearing escorts. The evolution of the company, said Patterson, is all about delivering trips of a lifetime now, featuring more inclusions, more peace of mind, and most importantly, more choice. Collette has certainly come a long way since its inaugural trip in 1918, a week-long Boston-Florida itinerary that included meals and was priced at $67.

“Choice is huge for us. In Amsterdam, for example, travellers on day one can choose from a canal tour or a walking tour. In New York, we give guests the choice of three Broadway shows, and not only do we offer a choice of meals on the majority of itineraries, we also offer the choice between three restaurants,” said Patterson. “Our mandate now is to take the client from being a tourist to being a traveller.”

Other top selling points for Collette include Private Sedan Service, thousands of guaranteed departure dates, and its worry-free protection plan that offers guests full cash refunds. Even more, if a client cancels their trip due to medical purposes, the agent retains the commission.

Agents will also be relieved to hear that Collette – once known for poaching groups business from agencies – is now fully committed to working with them. In a recent interview with Travelweek, Patterson confirmed that the company “will not attempt to take any group from your agency” and in the event a direct relationship exists where an agency partner is no longer involved, Collette “will pay the agency partner 100% of its commission due on that group and take any necessary corrective actions.”

What drew the most applause at yesterday’s lunch, however, was Collette’s new stance on discounting. According to Patterson, the company has made the decision to not play in the discount arena and work with agencies that slash its product prices.

“If a retailer wants to discount our product, we will not work with them, whether they’re OTA or bricks and mortar. It was an expensive move walking away from accounts like this, but we believe our product stands on its own and our customers deserve the level of service provided by a dedicated travel professional,” Patterson said in his interview.

Collette currently has 147 itineraries in seven continents, and five different trip styles: its flagship ‘Classic’ tours that drive the company’s business; small-group ‘Explorations’ featuring 12-24 passengers; ‘Spotlights’ that include single-hotel stays; ‘River Cruise’, with voyages primarily in Europe; and ‘Faith’ tours, which Patterson said is an “untapped market” and “huge growth opportunity.”

For more information on Collette, visit

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