Open Jaw

Trafalgar’s Inside Story

Guided Touring For Every Style, Every Taste

‘Insider’ is a key word for Trafalgar because in recent years the guided touring company has based its branding on providing guests with an insider’s view of its destinations.

“The insider view is the core fundamental of our product,” stresses Patterson. “Our branding is consistent and our messaging is clear. When you travel with Trafalgar you become the insider through authentic experiences that bring the destination to life.”

The insider experience begins with Trafalgar’s Travel Directors, the ultimate insiders -- knowledgeable, experienced and with the local savvy to offer what guidebooks can’t. As well as their everyday insights, Travel Directors share their favourite little-known destination highlights through a program called ‘Hidden Treasures.’

"When you travel with Trafalgar you become the insider through authentic experiences that bring the destination to life.”

The inside view continues with ‘Be My Guest’, an experiential dining program where Trafalgar guests are welcomed into private homes, working farms, wineries and family-run restaurants located in picturesque settings unique to the region. The group could be hosted by Count Francesco in his Tuscan estate, enjoy a lunch of local specialties with a family in their Hutong home in Beijing or get a taste of the Aussie outback when the Falzon family in Alice Springs fires up the barbie.

‘Unique Insights’ is another feature of most Trafalgar itineraries, with a diverse range of experiences that take guests deeper into the local social and cultural landscape. It could be a visit to the locker rooms of FC Barcelona or the privilege of ascending the step-less spiral staircase designed by famous architect Donato Bramante in a part of the Vatican not open to the public.

Trafalgar friends

‘Local Specialties’ is one more element built into Trafalgar’s tours. It might be learning to pour a pint of Guinness in Ireland or taking an edible excursion through San Francisco, tasting everything from salted pig parts to Vietnamese spring rolls – all of them local specialties.

Patterson says the addition of all these experiential elements has evolved over time, but has now reached a point where he describes Trafalgar’s offerings as “a product whose time has come.”

“This is what people want,” says Patterson. “We can tell from their comments at the end of the tour. We can tell because a survey of our 2012 guests found that 35% of them planned to take another tour in 2013. That’s huge for retailers.”

Patterson says travel professionals are responding. “I think they’re taking the product much more seriously than in the past. They’re more engaged and they are recognizing that the bottom-line is very strong. They also recognize that we’ve come a long way in terms of customer-centric communications. We consistently keep in touch with past passengers and everything we do drives them back to the agency they booked with.”

"A survey of our 2012 guests found that 35% of them planned to take another tour in 2013. That’s huge for retailers."

The introduction of sub-brands has also propelled Trafalgar forward, broadening its appeal to new segments of the travelling population.

Trafalgar family brochure

‘At Leisure’ targets independent-minded travellers who may have never considered an escorted tour. In fact, Patterson says most who choose this option are first-timers. The product consists of multi-night stays in key cities, plus travel between them. There’s an introductory tour and the availability of concierge-style services, but otherwise At Leisure pax can do their own thing. Patterson says the product has strong appeal to past cruisers. ‘Family Experiences’ is another success story. Seeing growth in the number of its guests wanting to bring along children or grandchildren, Trafalgar created a collection of tours based around family activities. The response has been excellent, Patterson says, and since bookings tend to range from three to seven guests, it’s a lucrative place for agents.

Trafalgar is also working with Gutsy Women Travel to offer women-only tours, another popular niche.

The economic struggles of the past few years have breathed new life into Trafalgar’s budget-minded Cost-Saver program. Sales were up 10% last year, and Patterson says the momentum continues.

After 25 years with TravCorp, Patterson says he’s never seen the product in a better place. “A lot of things are coming together. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work by our staff and our partners. It’s gratifying to see.”

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