At yesterday’s first-ever Europe Travel Xpo, hosted by XpoPRO Mobile Events, a division of TravPRO Mobile, travel advisors, tour operators and more came together virtually to look at booking patterns and other trends for travel to Europe in the months ahead.
Participants could head to the Marketplace to view partners’ showcases, engage with them in real-time and download or share assets. There were featured speakers and panels, and breakout sessions. The Learning Portal offered training courses, while the European Extras section offered trip ideas. The Euro Lounge and Trivia Centre rounded out the online experience. Plus agents could earn and track their Xperience Points for chances to win Amazon gift cards and a trip for two to Ireland.
Susan Tuckey, a adventure travel advisor with Toronto-based Penguins2PolarBears, part of TTAND, took part in the ‘Travel Advisor Tips & Trends’ panel alongside travel consultant Kim Barber with Globetrotter Travel in Michigan. The discussion was moderated by Elizabeth Pickering, National Manager of Industry Relations and Advocacy for Millennials in Travel.
Tuckey said her Europe bookings have been picking up – and not for the usual suspects. “I’m seeing a lot of interest, particularly in destinations that are a little more immersive and off the beaten path,” said Tuckey. “Canadians are booking for 2022 and 2023, for destinations like Portugal and Spain, Turkey, Italian lakes and Swiss mountains, Greece, Nordic experiences, Iceland and Russia. So not your typical Italy or France or the UK. A little more remote, a little bit different.”
Tuckey says ticking trips off bucket lists is a major factor. “I’m hearing a lot of ‘I’ve always wanted to go to …’, whether it’s Russia, or Greece, or wherever.”
Many clients are booking longer trips to Europe too. “They’re definitely going to places they haven’t been and they’re being immersive. They’re spending 14 to 21 days. They’re not staying in one city. A lot of them are taking railways from destination to destination and going to all of the great sites historic sites, taking into cultural experiences,” she said.
Asked about who’s booking what, Tuckey said her younger and Millennial clients have been quick off the mark. “My first client post-COVID was a 23-year old going to Iceland, she did a self drive for 10 days. I find that my younger generation clients are booking sooner and earlier – this year and early next year. The Boomers are waiting until later 2022 and into early 2023.”
The Europe Travel Xpo also featured a panel discussion with tour operators. Taking part were David Green, VP Commercial, G Adventures; Cory McGillivray, Manager, Channel Marketing, Globus Family of Brands; and Lora Shapiro, Manager, Trade Marketing & Education for Tauck. The panel was moderated by Mark Meredith, Founder, Rocket Travel Marketing.
Green said G Adventures has run close to 1,300 tours over the past year. “We’re proud of that number, and we’re proud of the support we’ve received from the travel agent community,” said Green. “Customer satisfaction numbers are off the charts. Forward bookings are looking good as well.”
Green added that health and safety protocols haven’t negatively impacted customer experiences on trips. Cory McGillivray with Globus agrees. “Part of the benefit of being two years into this is that people are used to health and safety protocols,” said McGillivray. “And the pent-up demand and that desire to get out and travel is driving that acceptance even more.”
Lora Shapiro said Tauck’s guests are happier with the tours than they’ve ever been, judging by customer satisfaction ratings. “The biggest benefit to travelling right now, there are fewer crowds, fewer people,” she said.
Dean Jacobberger, Vice President, XpoPRO Mobile, said: “We couldn’t be happier with how the Europe Travel Xpo closed out our Virtual PRO Show Series for 2021. We are elated to hear all the wonderful feedback from travel advisors and exhibitors about the ease of use of our platform and how it has been a valuable way to stay connected and have some fun learnings along the way.
“It’s been a pleasure introducing new elements like the Trivia Centre while maintaining popular favourites like the Travel Advisor Tips & Trends,” he added. “We look forward to announcing our 2022 virtual shows dates soon and to continuing to provide travel advisors with a platform to stay informed and to be inspired, as our industry forges ahead in its recovery.”
Jacobberger also thanked show sponsor Cymru Wales, and grand prize sponsors Tourism Ireland and Royal Irish Tours.
The Europe Travel Xpo will remain on demand for 30 days, and can be found at https://europetravelxpo.com/.