Collette At 100: Old Enough To Know Better

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw


Ellen Melman, Israel Government Tourist Office, with Shean Carmichael,
Marketing & Communications Manager,
The Travel Agent Next Door.


Penny Martin, VP, Travel Agent Services,
The Travel Agent Next Door;
Christian Liebl-Cote, SVP Global Business, Collette; Sandra Wesson,
Director of Product & Industry Relations, TDC.


Christian Liebl-Cote, SVP Global Business, Collette; Colton Chia, Partnerships Manager, TPI Travel;
Ron Lonsdale, VP Canada, Collette.


An early Collette ticket.

Recording its best year ever as a company is reason enough for a party, but when that company is turning 100 next year, a major bash is in order.

Guided tour operator Collette is “celebrating 100 years of travel together” in 2018. In the land travel business, that puts Collette in rare company – only Cox & Kings and Thomas Cook have been around that long.

Canadian Collette partners including airline and tourist board reps, media, and, of course, top sellers, got an early start on the centennial celebrations last week. The venue was Badali’s, in Toronto’s Entertainment District, which the tour operator uses for farewell dinners on its Best Of Eastern Canada tour.

“It’s pretty unbelievable that we’re a third-generation family company and having our best year in history,” said Christian Leibl-Cote, Senior Vice President of Global Business. “I’ve read that only 3% of family businesses survive to the third generation, but we have a great team beyond the family.”

There will be a major family get-together and birthday party early next summer at Collette’s Pawtucket, Rhode Island HQ. Leibl-Cote says the company has booked 600 hotel rooms in the Providence area and is expecting some 800 guests.

The Canadian-born Leibl-Cote says a blend of new and old is what keeps Collette’s product fresh and innovative. Long-time employees like Canadian GM Brett Walker with 27 years and VP Ron Lonsdale with 23, have strong institutional knowledge and longstanding relationships. But there are lots of young staff members here and south of the border to encourage new ideas and leverage new technologies.

Liebl-Cote says Collette demonstrates its commitment to agents by protecting commissions and not dealing with discounters. “When your clients book Collette with you they get it at the best price we offer. We value our relationship.”

Lonsdale thanked tourism board partners for helping create demand, airline partners for helping to make Collette tours smooth from start to finish, and retail partners for their loyalty and strong sales efforts.

Lonsdale said that 100 years of perfecting the escorted tour experience is reflected in the satisfaction level of Collette travellers.

“We’re old enough to know what works and what doesn’t. What’s too fast or too slow. What experiences and places really make people happy. That’s why we pick your clients up at their door and take them to the airport. That’s why we meet them on their return and drive them home.”


Todd Bridges, VP Global Business Development, Collette;
Amelia Sugerman, Public Relations Manager, Collette;
Brett Walker, GM Canada, Collette; Ron Lonsdale.


An early Collette ad.




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