Travel companies around the globe continue to emerge, and prosper, from the gradual rebound in tourism following pandemic shutdowns that ensued throughout 2020 and 2021.
Many companies that previously relied on outbound tourism, particularly those based in Australia, pivoted their businesses to cater for the resurgence in domestic travel – up until the chaos that ensued with domestic border closures.
Early in 2020, US-based touring company Tauck laid the foundations for its Australian operation, with the appointment of David Clark as Country Manager. Clark was recruited to drive sales and build Tauck’s brand awareness over the next few years. Recently, LATTE revealed details of Tauck’s 5-year vision for this market.
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With its competitors in the touring space beefing up their domestic profile, LATTE questioned Clark as to whether a domestic Australian program had been under consideration for Tauck too.
“We did speak about this as a business, especially early on in 2020, but ultimately decided against introducing a domestic program for a few reasons,” Clark explained.
“Tauck’s tour/product architects spend a significant amount of time (2-3 years) piecing together our tours to perfectly suit Tauck guests’ desires and dreams, from every component from our hotels, restaurants, to walking tour guides etc.
Clark explained that due to COVID, the company was unable to guarantee that the existing product and tour offering crafted in Australia and New Zealand could be delivered.
“There were so many closures, from hotels, attractions, and our charter flight operators etc. we just weren’t willing to forego our usual rigorous tour development process and potentially sacrifice quality just to capture some domestic market,” he said.
“Given the constant border closures and snap lockdowns we have had to face here in ANZ, in hindsight, this was a good decision, although very unfortunate for so many local operators, fingers crossed we are now heading in the right direction and we can move towards operating an almost full program in 2022 and beyond down here in the Southern hemisphere,” Clark noted.
Tauck’s non-discounting stance explained
LATTE also quizzed Clark on Tauck’s non-discounting mentality, keen to understand the rationale behind that stance.
“We recognise that the travel agency business has evolved over the years and there are different models that agencies employ to acquire customers and secure bookings. What we don’t ever want is for an advisor to spend hours educating their client on the merits of travelling with Tauck, only to then lose their hard-earned booking to an agency advertising discounts on the web or otherwise,” he said.
“Unfortunately there are customers who don’t understand the value of exceptional service over savings.
“Our loyal following has been built on the effort of travel advisors who believe in our brand, many of them having travelled with us personally, and we believe in protecting those advisors who have made us successful,” Clark told LATTE.
Clark added: “In addition to protecting our advisor/agency partners, we believe that discounting is a detriment to the buying experience of our guests and the travel experience as well. No matter where or when a guest makes their Tauck booking, they can rest assured that the price they pay is the best price, and the same price, as everyone else they will be traveling with.”
“This philosophy allows our guests to focus on the anticipation of travel and the exceptional experience that awaits.”
“Tauck has always believed that every guest who travels on a Tauck journey is equal. No matter where they come from, our guests believe that travel enhances their lives and the last thing they want to talk about around the dinner table on their dream river cruise is the discount one of their fellow travellers got,” Clarke concluded.