Insight & Luxury Gold: Guided Vacations Have Gone Glam
with Bruce Parkinson
Brad Ford, Ulla Hefel Böhler, Brett Tollman
Guests were treated to a cooking demo at Toronto's Estia.
The new Insight Vacations Britain & Europe brochure.
Remember when people – including some travel agents -- used to make jokes about coach touring? Nobody’s laughing anymore.
As delivered today by veteran operators like Insight Vacations, this kind of trip is now referred to more grandly – and more accurately – as a guided vacation. And what was once a fairly passive, follow-the-leader mode of touring has become something much different. Something immersive and engaging. Something luxurious too, in the case of Insight and Luxury Gold. And something way more fun.
A clear sign of how far Insight and its ultra-premium offshoot Luxury Gold have come is the fact that both now enjoy preferred status with Virtuoso, the world’s largest network of travel advisors specializing in luxury travel.
Thus it was a happy crew of Insight and Luxury Gold representatives who hosted key agency partners at a lunch at Mediterranean seafood restaurant Estia, in Toronto’s tony Yorkville. The group was led by Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, Ulla Hefel Böhler, CEO, Insight Vacations, Brad Ford, President, Insight Vacations Canada, and Carla Brake, VP Sales, Insight Vacations Canada.
They were in town with a dual-purpose: to launch Insight’s Europe & Britain 2019 brochure, featuring 96 journeys visiting 40 nations; and to keep spreading the word about Luxury Gold, which offers both small-group luxury tours and bespoke travel for groups as small as one.
“We show our guests the insights, not just the sights,” said Hefel Böhler, citing new Insight Experiences for 2019, including watching the Aurora Borealis from a glass-domed bedroom north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, or spending an evening with Bedouins in Jordan’s Wadi Rum before retiring to a glamorous ‘tent.’
There are now over 70 Insight Experiences in the new brochure. And VP Sales Brake says these form a key selling tool for travel advisors. “Our guests don’t just see the destination. They meet it, feel it, taste it. It truly is ‘The Art of Travelling in Style.’”
Brett Tollman credited his father Stanley with the vision of taking Insight’s premium product to another level with Luxury Gold. Stanley pointed out that among The Travel Corporation’s holdings is Red Carnation Hotels, recently named the number two hotel brand in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure. And the many other TravCorp brands employ professional with decades of luxury travel experience and knowledge.
“What an honour and pleasure to create something even more exceptional than Insight’s product,” Brett Tollman told Open Jaw.
Insight Canada’s Ford says many Canadian agents are still learning about the Luxury Gold product, and don’t know about its capacity to offer fully customized tours.
“One of the big surprises for agents is that we can offer bespoke tours in Ireland, Scotland, South and East Africa and now Greece. TravCorp owns our Greek partners, so when agents ask how their affluent clients can do Greece differently, we’ve got the on-the-ground experience to put something wonderful together.”
Insight and Luxury Gold’s partnership with travel advisors is strong and will continue that way, Tollman says.
“We’re the most agent-friendly of the premium/luxury brands,” Tollman says. He offers evidence by describing how on occasion an Insight client will choose to book direct with the operator after previously going through an agent. “We will cut a commission cheque and deliver it to the original agent. We put agents first because we need their support.”
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.