Luxury Gold Mine: Success Of TTC’s Top Touring Brand Defies Canadian Stereotypes
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
Canadian travellers are often described as cheerful but cheap. The roaring success of Luxury Gold -- the high-end, immersive escorted touring line inspired by The Travel Corporation’s founder Stanley Tollman -- puts the lie to that stereotype.
(Left to right) Carla Brake, VP of Sales, Insight Vacations Canada; Brett Tollman, President & CEO, The Travel Corporation; Dana Welsh, Manager, Canada, Tourism Ireland; Claire Hanney, Head of Travel Experiences for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold; Brad Ford, President, Canada, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold.
At a 2020 launch event in Toronto, top sellers gathered to enjoy a taste of the Luxury Gold experience, and in doing so helped destroy another common mistaken belief – that travel professionals are no longer relevant in the Internet age.
“Luxury gold is a 99% B2B model,” said The Travel Corporation President & CEO Brett Tollman, son of Stanley. “All of our resources go to the trade. There is no consumer advertising. I’m so proud of what Luxury Gold is today, and the people in this room helped get us there.”
Michelin-Starred Chef JP McMahon.
The Luxury Gold 2020 Worldwide brochure is 172 pages of travel dreams come true, and the product truly is worldwide these days, with immersive journeys in Europe and Britain, Canada and the U.S., Latin America, Asia, India, Africa and Australia and New Zealand.
Joining Tollman in travelling across the pond for the event was Claire Hanney, Head of Travel Experiences for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. She and her team have the pleasure – and challenge -- of crafting Luxury Gold itineraries, which are based around exclusive experiences, exceptional dining and elegant accommodations.
The Travel Corporation CEO Brett Tollman speaks to top-selling advisors.
For 2020, Hanney told Open Jaw that she’s thrilled to present two exciting new tours, one to a fast-emerging, high-buzz destination, and the other to a bucket-list destination fast recovering after falling off the map in recent years.
The first isArt, Culture & Cuisine Of Colombia, a 10-day trip that takes in Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena. Among the experiences that set this tour apart are a welcome dinner at Criterion in Bogotá, one of Latin America’s best restaurants, and a stay at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, housed in a former convent, which blends French luxury and colonial architecture. On select departures Luxury Gold guests enjoy a meeting with author Juan Garcia Vasquez, who won the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for hisThe Sound Of Things Falling.
“Egypt is back in a big way,” says Hanney. “Insight Vacations is synonymous with immersive, luxurious touring in Egypt, so we had to find a next level for Luxury Gold. The result is something we’re very proud of.”
The trip includes a Nile journey on Uniworld’sRiver Tosca, which Hanney describes as the best ship on the fabled waterway. But it is the tour’s amazing hotel accommodations that Hanney says guests will remember forever.
There’s a stay in Aswan at The Old Cataract Hotel, an iconic place of colonial splendour where Agatha Christie once sipped cocktails. But the real jewel in the sarcophagus for Hanney is Cairo’s Marriott Mena House, another historic property, and one where Luxury Gold rooms feature balconies looking directly at the pyramids.
“I inspect hotel rooms all the time. It’s part of my job. I generally come in, take a few pictures and move on. When I walked into Mena House and saw the balcony looking straight at the pyramids, I told the hotel staff: ‘I’m going to need a minute,’” Hanney laughed.
AnotherElegance Of The Pharaohsinclusion offers a clear depiction of what sets Luxury Gold apart. Guests arrive at the Temple of Luxor just as the historic site closes for the day to visitors. Luxury Gold participants watch the sun set and explore the incredible temple in uncrowded leisure.
It is experiences like this that have helped ensure that 2019 was “an exceptional year for Luxury Gold in Canada,” according to Brad Ford, President of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold in Canada. “We offer the best of the best and we are sold by the best of the best,” Ford said, in thanking attending travel advisors – at least half of them associated with Virtuoso – for their efforts.
The evening at Toronto’s Storys venue set out to recreate the quality of a Luxury Gold experience, and fully succeeded. The night was co-sponsored by Tourism Ireland – fitting as the nation has been a top seller both for Insight and Luxury Gold for years. In fact, the Luxury GoldUltimate Irelandtour is the number-one seller in the portfolio.
Monkfish, wild mushroom and pickled celeriac highlighted the main course crafted by JP McMahon.
Luxury Gold and Tourism Ireland brought over Michelin-star chef JP McMahon to cook for the evening. He owns three restaurants in Galway, with the flagship Aniar serving dishes exclusively made with West of Ireland ingredients, with the only exceptions being white flour and sugar. McMahon’s passions include fish, shellfish and seaweed, and the pure, clean flavours make plates sing.
Tourism Ireland’s Dana Welsh described the destination as offering luxury coupled with history and heritage, and elevated by the amazing friendliness of the Irish people. “It’s a place that restores and enhances your lust for life,” she said.
Brett Tollman encouraged travel advisors to think of Luxury Gold when the right clients come in, because they will have the opportunity to do things no one else can do. “But I don’t have to tell you that,” he said to the audience of top sellers. “It’s wonderful to work with like-minded people like you who really get it.”
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.