Trafalgar Focuses On Change, Agents At 2019 Britain/Europe Launch Event
with Kerry Sharpe
Trafalgar's Wolf Paunic (L) with parent company Travel Corp's CEO Brett Tollman.
President of the Friends of the Guild Park, John Mason (far left), takes the group on a tour of the Guild Gardens.
African drummers were on-hand to celebrate Trafalgar's new Africa program.
Tina joined in on the tour as well.
At a Britain/Europe product launch event that started with a private guided tour around Toronto’s Guild Inn Gardens, Trafalgar set the tone for their style of vacation is all about: real connections.
“Recognizing that more travellers want immersive experiences, having some more local flavour and contact, is what Trafalgar has brought into its itineraries over the past decade,” said Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, Trafalgar’s parent company.
A pioneer in the experiential travel movement, Trafalgar made the conscious decision to reimagine its business model – changing from escorted tours to guided vacations 10 years ago with the introduction of its ‘Be My Guest’ experiences – and hasn’t looked back.
Whereas escorted tours are described as more superficial, simply observing a destination, guided vacations are the exact opposite, according to Wolf Paunic, president of Trafalgar Canada. “It’s the depth of experience, the richness of experience, the interaction with local people,” that really sets it – and Trafalgar – apart.
“Be My Guest came about by us, as an organization, knowing that we needed to reinvent the category,” said Paunic. “The more we can involve local communities and hosts, the better. Not just because it will give us an edge, but it also gives us an opportunity to sustain those local businesses, to preserve traditions, to keep those communities where we bring our guests vibrant… This is the 10th year of (Be My Guest) and let me tell you, when we started many were skeptical. Now we have them on 302 programs across the globe.”
Trafalgar’s evolution over the past decade was the theme of the 2019 Britain & Europe launch, something both Paunic and Tollman were quick to note couldn’t have been done without its supplier and travel agent partners.
“It all depends on our great travel partners here in Canada,” said Tollman, with Paunic continuing: “As Air Canada has been growing the network, both with mainline and Rouge, as much as also Transat and WestJet have been growing their networks, we’re certainly seeing an easier opportunity for our Canadian travellers to connect with the right Trafalgar experience.”
“And in that [decision-making] process, the most important partners are travel agents,” said Paunic. “Our motto is ‘agents first,’ not only in delivering the product we’re proud of, but also working with the agents, creating joint business plans, helping them with social media content, giving them access to our websites. We’ve invested in technology, we’ve improved our online booking engine, we’ve hired new sales managers… our commitment to the agent distribution channel is clearly part of our future planning.”
And what does that future hold? Well in 2019, Trafalgar will introduce Africa to its portfolio – an addition described as “72 years in the making” with Trafalgar’s founding family, the Tollmans, originally hailing from South Africa.
The company is introducing five new tours in Europe and Britain for 2019, including:
A 10-day Shamrocks and Leprechauns itinerary through Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
A new 14-day Treasures of Spain and Portugal tour.
An 11-day Best of Croatia and Slovenia trip that includes Trafalgar’s ‘Dive Into Culture’ experience, where clients will learn about the world-famous Istrian white truffles.
A new 11-day Best of Poland adventure that includes a visit to the rebuilt centre of Warsaw, the medieval old towns of Gdansk, Wroclaw and Kraków, and Auschwitz, along with an exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experience when they join a local family for a meal.
The new five- or six-day Mykonos and Santorini Island Extensions that can be coupled with Trafalgar’s Best of Greece or Best of Italy and Greece trips.
With a 97% satisfaction rating, derived from close to 40,000 customer reviews on Feefo, Trafalgar’s focus is – and always will be – its guiding values and principles.
“We really want to talk more to our retail partners about the importance of why guests and customers want to travel with us, we want to talk about our principle of the ‘Good Life,’ which is underpinned by three main pillars: real ease (meaning effortless travel), real connections (giving guests access to local people in a more personal way) and pure joy,” said Paunic.
“We know that the ‘Good Life’ our guests want to see are really those moments suspended in time that they cannot find elsewhere.”
Kerry Sharpe Columnist
Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.