Continuing to develop innovative product remains the key challenge for Insight Vacations as its global chief executive promised that new destinations will be added to the 2015 European summer program.
John Boulding, on a visit to Australia to meet key partners and officially launch Insight’s 2014/15 winter program, said product enhancement and meeting the needs of a demanding consumer were its top priorities.
He told Travel Today that Insight would continue to develop its Signature collection of hotels and experiences which are designed to get “under the skin” of a destination.
The product debuts this European summer and features in its 14/15 winter program later this year.
It is a similar strategy adopted by sister coach brand, Trafalgar, which has attempted to reinvent its product and alter the sometimes-negative perception of coach touring through the introduction of in-depth local experiences.
“People will still travel with you if you continue to produce and develop product that meets the needs of guests,” Boulding said. “That is the number one challenge. You have to make it happen.”
Insight has done that through its Signature collection, he said.
“This is not lip service, it’s not just words, this is fundamental change. We are retaining the benefits that we’ve always had but we are creating additional experiences,” Boulding explained.
In the past, authenticity has meant wine tasting but pressure has grown in the market to go far beyond that, he added.
“There has to be much more. It is about getting under the skin of a destination.”
The public are demanding it and operators must meet those demands, he said.
Insight’s Australia managing director, Joost Timmer, said the operator will take around 300 agents on famils this year, more than ever before, which is “paying dividends” as it looks to educate the trade about its product development.
Prices in the newly launched winter program have risen by up to 14%, partially a result of the upgraded Signature product. But the rates remain up to 30% below the summer season, Boulding said.
Forward bookings for winter are showing double digit growth, with Christmas markets, now featured in six itineraries, helping to drive the increase.
Boulding said the 2015 European program will see further product development with new destinations expected to feature.