Tourism

Collette’s James Hewlett tells Travel DAZE how to stay relevant after 100 years

Lauren Croft

Yesterday, Travel DAZE 2018 was held at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre, and it sure was an excellent day (even if we do say so ourselves).

Our stellar speakers captivated and inspired the audience throughout the day – one of which was Collette’s director of marketing, James Hewlett!

And this year is no ordinary one for the touring company; it’s their centennial year, marking 100 years since Collette was founded in 1918.

Hewlett said Collette’s very first itinerary was from Boston to Florida, took three weeks, and cost just $68.50.

“Of course the value of money, our values, habits, technology and travel have changed beyond recognition since that time,” he said.

Less than three per cent of businesses make it to 100 years old, and Hewlett said that for him, two things stood out in the company: partnerships and the evolution of Collette itineraries.

“We strongly believe that one plus one equals far more than two,” he said.

“[And] we welcome the opportunity for a mutually rewarding partnership.”

The company has also aligned their tours with the needs of today’s traveller – and have continued to evolve throughout the past 100 years.

“A Jitney bus back in 1918 carrying 12-16 passengers on a three-week journey down to Florida was the needs of then,” Hewlett explained.

Now, Collette has six styles of touring: the newest of which is small group explorations, which the company has just launched.

“How do we remain relevant to our customers in our ever-evolving world?” Hewlett asked.

“It’s always been about engaging with customers and getting an understanding of the ‘why’. Why travel?

“So we listened to our customers. And we made some changes. And it’s led us to introduce arguably the greatest evolution in Collettes touring program, which is Explorations by Collette,” he said.

These tours are Collette’s answer to small group travel, and let travellers experience a destination on a deeper level.

“Today, travellers want to engage every sense. To discover the heart [of a destination] and really feel the place.”

“Explorations removes the plans and logistics and allows guests to slow down, to experience life and culture, educating and enriching themselves on a journey,” Hewlett said,.

The tours are a combination of local flavour and expertise, best suited to those who want unique experiences.

“We’re talking about dog sledding through artic Finland, we’re talking about ziplining in Costa Rica, a tour of Switzerland’s wine country entirely by rail. We’re talking about hunting for truffles in southern France.

“The experience is much, much, much bigger than it used to be,” Hewlett said.

And by 2019, there’ll be 17 fabulous tours. Which means we have a ton to look forward to.

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