Last night, Trafalgar hosted an Italian-inspired dinner, and toasted a glass of Prosecco to the launch of the brand’s Europe and Britain 2018 brochure. This time around, travellers can choose from 226 hand-crafted itineraries, 65 countries on six continents, and eight unique travel styles that will personalize the journey.
Wolf Paunic, president of Trafalgar Travel, opened the evening with a very special announcement. “Trafalgar, Air Canada Vacations, and another brand from The Travel Corporation, Contiki, will be working together, and we will have our guided experiences in the 2018 ACV Europe brochure,” Paunic said.
Staying true to the concept of providing authentic experiences, Trafalgar invited guests to try their hand at a home-made gnocci session, prior to diving into the remainder of the night.
Following an extremely successful year for 2017, where sales numbers are performing at their highest in at least half a decade, Trafalgar’s overall goal for the evening was to recognize the efforts of travel agents around the world.
“We’re here to tell our retail partners that we are very in sync with their needs, that we hear what they need, and that we are here to deliver not only a supremely high quality experience, but to make their everyday life and their dealings with us a lot easier,” Paunic said.
In an era where customers are quick to do their own research prior to confiding in a trusted travel professional, Trafalgar wants to ensure that sales agents have all of the tools that they’ll need to perfect the travel trade.
“We have the new agent-only website, where they [agents] can find privileged information that will make them look great in front of their clients, and display a higher level of knowledge,” Paunic said. “We have also launched the Trafalgar Learning Academy so they will have a lot more information at their fingertips, rather than relying on brochures, and they can match client knowledge by searching the websites.”
The Academy provides a debriefing on the overall concept of Trafalgar’s guided vacations, so that agents can identify the needs and wants of their clients, and successfully narrow down the options to match specific travel needs.
Guests try their hand at gnocci-making during Trafalgar's 2018 Europe & Britain brochure launch in Toronto last night.
The new booking agent that Trafalgar has rolled out is an enhanced version of the one that was previously in used. Now, using an intuitive approach, agents are able to successfully identify a travel quote in real-time for their clients and easily book the air component for the client, which will be confirmed almost immediately.
“We want the agents to have absolutely no reason not to work with us, so the same way we say it’s “agents first” for Trafalgar, we want the agents to think it’s “Trafalgar first” before any other supplier,” Paunic said.
Trafalgar has an active partnership with The Treadright Foundation, a non-profit that was created by Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, as a means to protect the environments and the communities that are directly impacted by tourism. The TreadRight Foundation has a series of projects in place that work to promote sustainability in the places that Trafalgar promotes.
“Tourists coming in [to a city] for weekends and acting badly is not what Trafalgar is about, in terms of the experiences that we do,” Tollman said.
“Having our local hosts with us means that we’re supporting the local community. The plethora of ocean cruise lines that have a substantial number of arrivals at once can just inundate a destination, being the case in Venice.
"I think that we need to be careful in moderating some of that because equally, the people in Venice that the locals don’t want really are the day-trippers who are coming in and clogging the streets; not buying anything, not spending money in the destination as Trafalgar does by staying overnight in the hotels, eating in the local restaurants and so forth,” Tollman continued.
“We are leaving a lot of money in the destination, and profits for the local merchants and operators. Equally important, it’s good to see an evolution of some of Trafalgar’s destinations, where they’re crying out for tourists, because within the world, there are countries that are looking to develop inbound programs.
"We can’t mix the Barcelonas and the Venices of the world with places that desperately need tourism dollars, which are one of the great generators of employment, tax receipts, and overall GDP.”
New this year, trafalgar has partnered with VizEat, an organization which invites visitors to share a home-cooked meal with a local family, so that they may truly understand local culture, while giving back in the process.
The European Experience
In comparison to previous years, Trafalgar has seen an explosion of interest in experiential travel, and Europe continues to be a hot destination, with a good deal of the company’s 2018 spring and winter product already selling out fast.
“From a Canadian point of view it’s very clear that Canadians want to travel, and we have better Transatlantic airlift than we’ve ever had before, at very reasonable prices. The Canadian dollar is very stable, and other parts of Europe are generating significant interest, so we feel that this season will be very strong, most likely above 2017,” Paunic said.
Trafalgar currently offers 268 global trips and Trafalgar Europe has 111, which equates to more than 100 guided vacations in Europe alone. The Cost Saver tours are also a big hit, offering the same hand-picked experiences to popular destinations in Europe, but at three and four-star hotel rates.
“They are differentiated by destinations and regions, but also by the travel style as we do know that people want to travel and have those experiences delivered in a different way,” Paunic said.
“One of the trends that we are seeing out of all markets are the “city explorers”; more and more guests want to explore cities with a travel director, so they can get deeper and figure out the lifestyle and hotspots [of the city]. This year, we’ve added Madrid and Berlin to Paris, London, and Rome, so now we have several explorer tours.”
Registration will begin in 2018, much like airlines and cruise bookings, so that agents have plenty of time to book their clients without worrying about missing out.
To make matters easier for both guests and agents, Trafalgar has rolled out a new app, called My Trafalgar, which allows both parties to communicate in real-time, should a problem or issue arise while travelling abroad. The app is available to every registered guest, and allows guests to select preferences and stay in contact with agents.
“Historically, we’ve been known as escorted coach tours, however at Trafalgar we have embarked on a very serious grassroots change of that category, from contracting to planning our trips, to ensuring that we deliver to our guests the most genuine and deepest connection with local people, local places, and local lifestyle,” Paunic said.
“It’s delivering those experiences that are not easily accessible, especially not if one is trying to line them up independently.”