TORONTO — John Boulding, the CEO of Insight Vacations, endured the deep-freeze temperatures to host a group of media and travel industry partners at Estiatorio VOLOS, a Greek restaurant in downtown Toronto, to showcase the continued success of Insight Vacations, particularly in regards to currencies, early booking discounts, signature experiences and sales in Canada for 2014 – up 11% so far.
The evening began with a dip into the controversial topic of the falling Canadian dollar and the currency surcharges recently announced for Canadian passengers.
“Here in Canada we were able to get our pricing pretty spot-on,” says Boulding. “What appeared initially to be a pricing structure that people thought included price increases – actually when you look at how we’ve managed to get it right in terms of currency levels, we’re not in a position to announce surcharging and we’re out there holding prices.”
Insight Vacations has also had success with payment structures that allow early booking discount of 10%, which has been very effective and allows consumers to get the savings right up front.
Insight also relies on selling the most popular destinations and offering smaller group sizes and more authentic local experiences – what Insight refers to as Signature Experiences.
“It used to be very much about the destinations you visit, the places you stay and what you see – and that was what drove the business. Now more emphasis being put on what you eat, people you meet and the experiences you have. Really it’s about authenticity,” says Boulding.
With smart financial management, the right incentives for travellers to book early and a product that gives people the local touch they are looking for; Insight had a watershed year in 2013 and 2014 looks to be even stronger.
“Last year 2013 was the best year we’ve ever had in the history of Insight in 35 years. And this year is ahead again – Canada is 11% ahead; in the U.S. were 25% ahead; and putting it all together we’re about 8-9% up on the biggest year we’ve ever had.”
Canadian business represents 15% of Insight Vacations’ business globally. In the Canadian market, there will be an emphasis on the Eastern Mediterranean for 2014 with Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, India and more all part of the new Exotics program which will be announced shortly.
“In Canada we want to put a particular focus on the Eastern Med because we are seeing a fantastic rebound in that part of the world,” says Cris David, president of Insight Vacations Canada. “We’re now seeing a 40% increase in our bookings to Greece so far in 2014, so Greece is back.”