Talking Tauck with Academy advisors

Australian travel advisors share insight on their recent famil experience

Petra, Jordan | Credit: Ahmad Qaisieh/Unsplash

Last December, luxury touring and cruise operator Tauck hosted four Australian travel advisors on its most recent Tauck Academy through Jordan. The frontline sellers explored Amman, Jerash, Mt Nebo, Madaba, Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, alongside dozens of their counterpart travel advisors from the USA, Canada, and the UK.

Tauck Academy is an advisor certification program, designed to provide advisors with all the tools they need to grow their businesses. Held at various locations around the globe, the Academy provides in-depth classroom training, mixed with on-tour immersion and connects with the Tauck Sales Team.

For the Australian tetrad joining Tauck’s Managing Director for Australia, David Clark, on the trip in Jordan, the product wasn’t necessarily new to them – all had sold Tauck previously – but the combination of an iconic location and the opportunity to experience the Tauk difference firsthand was an enticing offering.

Image: At Wadi Rum on the Tauck Academy Jordan from left are Marienne Guberina, SmartFlyer; David Clark, Tauck; Jenny Reeves, Phil Hoffmann Travel; Vicki Williamson, MTA – Mobile Travel Agents and Kerry Cleasby, TravelManagers.

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TravelManagers’ Kerry Cleasby previously had a client who loved to arrange Tauck’s tours with her American friends. They would coordinate to be on the same trip together every year, and it was that recurring client confidence that made Cleasby keen to experience the brand for herself.

Marienne Guberina of Smartlyer Australia said she was taken aback that Tauck’s destination range also spanned Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. While Cleasby admits she wasn’t aware of the variety in types of touring that were offered, such as the Bridge tours that are designed for families.

“This area is so exciting for me as I look after many families and have lots of requests now for multi-generation holidays,” Cleasby said.

She and Vicki Williamson of MTA Travel were enticed to the Tauck Academy by the bucket list destination, the opportunity to experience a Tauck tour and to gain an understanding on the selling features of an all-inclusive tour.

For Guberina, the drawcard was to learn about what Tauck can offer her clients.

“An escorted tour with large passenger numbers is not something I would gravitate towards or propose to a client. I wanted to get a sense of how a tour like this would operate for myself. I was pleasantly surprised. My clients seek perfectly curated, luxury travel experiences,” she explained.

Quizzed about key takeaways and learnings from the Academy, Cleasny highlighted the removal of the stress that is associated with tipping for Australians, plus the value of having “incredible tour managers and guides”. Williams said solo traveller fares on Tauck’s river cruise programs, while Guberina explained in more detail.

“Everything is taken care of, you don’t have to think. I feel that for less confident travellers, particularly in countries where they are very different culturally, or a more exotic destination, it’s a good option. 

“I think the Bridges family program is excellent – it is difficult to find family coach touring options. It ensures parents have a holiday too and sharing the same experience with other families is a real benefit. I love that they have special access. 

“For me, it’s about the small group journeys. I can’t see myself recommending a client on a large group trip – this is the way forward. Particularly for the Australian market – we are a different type of traveller, especially in the luxury space,” Guberina added.

Wadi Rum Palmera Camp

All agreed the cuisine, accommodation, experiences (such as a cooking class in Petra and riding camels) and the knowledge of the guides was impressive.

Among the standout experiences of the Tauck Academy for Williamson were the “outstanding” guides and Palmera Camp Wadi Rum – including a surprise staged attack by Bedouins. Wadi Rum, and the accommodation chosen for the itinerary were excellent, said Guberina.

For an escorted touring company I think they do a great job. I don’t think there were any true stand-out exclusive experiences on this trip.  People throw the word luxury/high-end around especially in the travel space.

“Luxury means different things to different people. I think there is a market for this type of travel and Tauck do it well,” Guberina noted.

“It is a great product for the right person and I think the experience was seamless, tour directors were excellent and it’s important to have local connections,” Guberina added.

And has the Tauck Academy given you renewed confidence in selling their products

“Yes, absolutely,” said Cleasby. “I have begun to chat with clients who I think are Tauck clients, whom I hadn’t previously thought to pitch the brand to.”

“I always knew it was a quality product and I sell it as such, but I wondered if much would change post-COVID. It’s just as good as ever,” said Williams

“Definitely confidence to sell,” explains Guberina. “For the discerning clientele looking for a group touring option, I think it’s the right product and I would sell with confidence”.

Finally, what excites the advisors about Tauck going forward and selling their products?

For Williamson, it’s Tauck’s “reliability – they deliver what they promise. Good accommodation, great food, wonderful guides – an overall top experience. Few do it so well.”

Vicki Williamson, MTA Travel at Wadi Rum

Cleasby says Tauck’s family tours, and so too does Guberina. “I think the family and cruise options are most exciting to me. Particularly the family program there are very few operators that do escorted touring well for the family market,” Guberina concluded.

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