Russia, Patagonia, the Azores and a combo tour to Egypt and Jordan are just some of the 20 new tours offered by Collette in 2020.
In Toronto last night (Sept. 25) to launch its 102nd travel season, Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, president of Collette, said the tour operator is only just getting started with 160 tours across five travel styles in all continents.
“We’re continuing to redefine what guided travel is and continuing to evolve, innovate and be creative to the guest experience and really listening to our customers to make the best possible experiences across the globe,” Leibl-Cote told PressToday. “We continue to expand Choice On Tour which creates that flexibility within tour programs, we’ve been doing it for over five years and it just keeps growing, we have that on over 75% of our tour programs. Definitely what we’re seeing more of is the want for experiences, a little more off the beaten path. Explorations, that small group tour product line, continues to be a key driver for us.”
In 2020, the Explorations program, which was the focus of last year’s season launch event, will be 100% carbon offset and most tours will feature impact moments, which are designed to connect travellers to a destination in a deeper way. For example on the Mysteries of India itinerary, travellers visit Sheroes Hangout, a pay-what-you-can café run by women survivors of acid attacks.
Following the news of Thomas Cook earlier this week, she told PressToday the travel trade can have confidence in the 102-year-old operation.
“Thankfully we’re debt-free, we have zero debt, we have a high ranking on Dun & Bradstreet, and to our travellers, to our partners, that should provide peace of mind when travelling with Collette. You have a lot of companies that own planes, buses, ships and all that kind of stuff and that forces debt. We’re really smart with the way we reinvest in ourselves and invest in the company without putting ourselves in financial difficulty. You always have to try to stay on top of that and be as risk-free as possible,” she said. “It’s a competitive landscape. Never get complacent, never think that you are always going to be in existence, you gotta keep moving forward and really trying to stay at the top of our game because anything can happen.”
What’s hot for 2020?
As for what’s coming in strong for 2020, some of the destinations include the Galapagos, Portugal, Costa Rica, the Christmas markets of Europe, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Finland, Japan especially with the Olympics and the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany.
“We’re seeing Morocco go through the roof right now. Egypt and Jordan are booming. Russia is back,” she said. “We’ve really expanded much more in Europe but still continue in exotics and all those destinations with Explorations so it’s been a busy but good 2020.”
A popular tour in the USA is the Bluegrass Country & the Smoky Mountains tour, which agents can experience firsthand on the upcoming fam tour on Aug. 6-14, 2020. The trip visits a private horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky, takes in the vibrant and artistic downtown of Asheville, North Carolina during a walking tour, the mecca of horse racing in Louisville, Kentucky and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Agents can apply for the opportunity at www.collette.com/agentfam.
Back to Canada, she said the market is looking strong. In addition to the launch event in Toronto, a similar event will take place next month in New York City.
“We’re seeing steady and consistent growth from Canada, which is great, and the projections for 2020 are looking good,” she said.
Top: Collette’s Ron Lonsdale, vice-president of Canada; Alisia Apostolou, marketing manager, Canada; and George Christakis, head of sales, Canada.
Middle: Christian Leibl-Cote, senior vice-president of Global Business, Collette; and Susan Bowman, vice-president, Marketing and Industry Relations, Transat Distribution Canada.
Bottom: Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, president, Collette.
End: Members of Collette’s North American team including CEO of Collette Dan Sullivan and president Jaclyn Leibl-Cote.