‘Book now, especially for the peak summer season because space is going to be very tight, says Trafalgar Tours chief executive, Gavin Tollman. ‘Speaking with our trade partners in Christchurch on Friday confirmed there is no doubt that there is huge demand for Europe for 2019. The big ones are clearly Italy, UK and Ireland, while the emerging destination is Croatia. We’ve seen incredible sales,’ he adds. ‘I believe a major reason for this is the availability of airlift, you now have those big planes leaving New Zealand and flying directly through Dubai and Qatar. Airlift and the rates are exceptional.’
With such demand, more than ever travel agents need to understand clearly what their customers want in their travel holiday, says Tollman. ‘Recent company research showed us that 89% of people are overwhelmed by the volume and choice of travel opportunities out there today. If I was sitting in a travel agent’s seat that would be the greatest gift – use it wisely. Enquire, ask them, don’t tell them what you think they want.’ The desire for authentic connections and local experiences has only increased, he adds.
Trafalgar Tours was meeting this need with experiences such as the new Great Italian Cities tour, which will include VIP entry into the Vatican City and a private tour and lunch in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. ‘I promise this will be a transforming experience,’ says Tollman. Visiting one of the last traditional weavers, in Perugia, was another such local authentic experience, with the bonus of providing much needed income so the weaver could continue her craft. ‘We’re not just about escorted tours; it’s about a way of travel that inspires your travel soul.’
- By Kathy Ombler