5Continents Wants To Be Your One-Stop Shop For Land Groups, FIT & More
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
5Continents founder David Boigné and Director of Sales, North America, Michelle Rauzon.
Michelle Rauzon with Laurie Keith, Owner, Romantic Planet Vacations.
Travel agents can’t know everything about everywhere, and that can be a challenge when clients are increasingly seeking diverse, off-the-beaten-path itineraries.
A new company created by industry veteran David Boigné, 5Continents aims to connect advisors with the people who do know everything about their respective destinations – long-time inbound operators around the globe.
Boignéjoined the travel industry at the tender age of 16 as a tour guide in a Loire valley chateau. In later years he was a shareholder and key executive with brands like Exotik and Boomerang, and later a vice-president with TravelBrands.
5Continents works in Europe, Asia, South America, the South Pacific and parts of Africa, Boigne said. Their inbound partners at this stage consist of Europe Incoming, TUI China, Athens Express, United Travel, the Baltic Travel Group, AGE out of Turkey, Veena World and Pacific Destinations. Representatives of four of those companies travelled to Canada for an agent meet-and-greet roadshow that made a stop in Toronto this week.
“This is a new concept,” Boigné told Open Jaw. “We’re not a GSA, we’re not a tour operator. We’re a platform for the world’s best inbound operators to get closer to the travel trade.”
5Continents gets paid by incoming operators for its services on a monthly retainer and incentives based on sales. It does not add to the price of packages set by the inbound operators, and most rates are net so agents can add their margin.
The real benefits from the arrangement include agents having access to the specialized knowledge and offerings of inbound operators, backed by the security of dealing with a Canadian-based company.
Benefits include that fact that client funds are held in a trust account, payment can be made in Canadian or local currencies and advisors deal with a team that boasts strong knowledge about both destination product and North American tastes and desires.
With all the talk about automation and artificial intelligence in travel these days, 5Continents is taking an opposite approach.
“We want to talk to you,” said Boigné. “It’s not about technology, we’re about people working with people, sharing our knowledge and experiences, our passion for travel, to offer your clients authentic experiences with a personal touch.”
Boigné added: “We’re not in the business of being the cheapest, but our pricing is very competitive. If clients want the cheapest they can go on Viator, but if they want service, they can work with you and us, and get exactly what they’re looking for.”
Natalia Kataras Rivera, Sales & Marketing Director, Athens Express, said the company, founded in 1946, works to provide travellers with a better experience by avoiding places where overtourism has diluted the experience.
“Mykonos and Santorini are oversold. But Greece has over 300 islands. We focus on getting people off the beaten track. We have connections pretty much everywhere, and there’s very little we get asked that we don’t know the answer to.”
The face of 5Continents to the travel trade is industry veteran Michelle Rauzon, well-known to agents across the country for her more than 30 years of service, first with Americanada Tours and then with Alio. She was greeted warmly by the packed house of travel advisors in Toronto.
5Continents ‘Gold Partners’ travelled from all over the world to meet with Canadian travel agents: (l to r) Michelle Rauzon, 5Continents, Gökalp Özdikicioğlu, AGE Tourism & Events, Turkey; Lidia Boscariol, Managing Director, Europe Incoming Italy; David Boigné, 5Continents; Natalia Kataras Rivera, Sales & Marketing Director, Athens Express, Greece; Mohan Redkar, Inbound-Assistant Manager, Veena World, India.
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.