Open Jaw

The Insight Difference

You Can’t Say It Better Than ‘The Art Of Touring In Style’

Insight Vacations Canada president Cris David is very passionate in describing what makes the Insight escorted touring product different. As we chat, I realize that everything he is saying can be effectively summed up by Insight’s long-time tagline: “The Art of Touring In Style.”

Insight is branded as a premium escorted touring product, similar to how Holland America, Azamara and Celebrity are positioned in cruise. There’s a price premium to enjoy its perks, but it’s one within reach of many travellers.

“It’s affordable luxury,” says David. “It’s not the product for those whose priority is the lowest price, even though the premium is not huge, often just 15-20%. But the value is incredible, because what you’re paying for are extras that are really meaningful.” They’re tangible too. When you take out a couple of rows from a luxury coach, a whole lot of legroom is the result – in Insight’s case it’s 100% more than lower-cost operators, which gives credence to another Insight promise, inviting guests to “stretch out in business class style.”

Other pillars of the Insight product include high-quality, centrally-located hotels, smaller groups (they took those rows out of the coach, remember), more dining options and more included events and experiences – the word ‘sightseeing’ doesn’t do an Insight tour justice anymore.

“It’s not the product for those whose priority is the lowest price, even though the premium is not huge, often just 15-20%. But the value is incredible, because what you’re paying for are extras that are really meaningful.”

Insight has responded to passenger requests by ramping up the experiential content of its tours. Take dining for example, a consuming passion for many Insight passengers.

There are welcome dinners at the beginning of tours, celebration dinners at the end. There are highlight dinners, including drinks, a four-course meal and entertainment – flamenco in Seville, waltz in Vienna, a gypsy evening in Budapest. Many tours now feature a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant – a big attraction for the many foodies travelling today. There are also dine-around evenings, where guests are given a choice of restaurants in a city, where they can dine when and with whom they choose.

Food and wine play a big role outside of mealtimes too. The Insight line-up features over 30 wine tastings and winery visits, especially in leading grape nations like Portugal, France and Italy. There are several “cookery master classes” offered on tours too, where guests learn to make a signature dish of the region they’re visiting – linzer torte in Austria, pierogis in Poland, potato peel pie in the Channel Islands.

When it comes to destinations, Insight has Europe covered like a blanket. Its tours visit 42 of 46 European countries. Eastern Europe and the Balkans are a hot destination, David says, and there’s lots of interest in seeing emerging destinations like Albania, Montenegro, Ukraine and the Crimea. David also reports that closer-to-home tours are doing very well, with strong sales for USA & Canada product.

“Britain and Ireland are the current “star destinations,” up a huge 35% from last year.

Insight is also well-known for its Eastern Mediterranean tours focused on Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and Greece. Socio-political events have raised challenges of late, but the destinations are too enticing to remain down for long.

While Insight is a premium product, it also offers a luxury choice with its Insight Gold product, featured in a separate brochure. “The concept has proven a success,” David says. “It’s 100% a luxury product, driven by outstanding hotels and experiences. It has brought us some new clients as well as enticing some past passengers to take a step up.”

At Insight, 2013 is already looking like a banner year. David cites an average 8% price decrease as part of the appeal, along with “a general feeling” that air is more affordable. Britain and Ireland are the current “star destinations,” up a huge 35% from last year. David concurs with other TravCorp execs that the Olympics and Royal Jubilee were a deterrent for travellers in 2012, and he says Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ this year is a big factor in increased bookings.

“It’s a great year for Insight and the travel partners who sell our tours,” says David. “The product has never been better and the value is outstanding. Everyone wins.”

 

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