Tradesco Ventures Into New Areas

Reed Travel Features

LOS ANGELES -- Tradesco Tours here shifted gears this year with its introduction of France and Scandinavia programs, part of a 30%-plus increase in tour product.

Tradesco's destination mainstay has been central Europe, but Andras Bolgar, the company's president, said he did not want his clients to turn to his competitors for other "western" European products.

Hence, Tradesco's new brochure features a 10-night escorted Scandinavia tour, Scandinavian capital city packages and a variety of hotel, sightseeing and restaurant options for independent travelers to Paris and Nice, France.

Another new Tradesco program features travel by rail in Switzerland.

Independent travelers can choose from a four-night journey through the Alps between Interlaken and Lucerne; an eight-night Lucerne-to-Zermatt tour combining Switzerland's best-known express trains, or a five-night Lucerne-to-Montreux trip featuring the Crystal Panoramic Express and the Brunig SBB.

"Switzerland is putting more emphasis than ever before on its rail products. The tourist board came to us this year and convinced me to offer Swiss rail to our clients," Bolgar said.

Tradesco has added two hotel voucher programs to its brochure, Guest Advantage and Minotel.

Guest Advantage includes more than 225 three-star hotels in Germany, France, England and Scotland, and Minotel represents more than 700 three-star properties throughout Europe.

"We are seeing greater demand for three-star products from independent travelers," Bolgar said.

Guest Advantage's rate is $118, double or single; there are no surcharges.

Minotel prices start at $121, double, with local surcharges ranging from $10 to $40 per room. There is a $15 per booking charge for both voucher programs.

Despite Tradesco's expansion, Bolgar estimated that the firm's most popular itinerary will continue to be the Imperial Trail program, a 10-night escorted tour that visits Budapest, Hungary; Prague, the Czech Republic, and Vienna, Austria.

Bolgar has tweaked the tour this year, sending travelers to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic en route to Vienna from Prague, instead of to Brno.

Cesky Krumlov, a preserved medieval city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, "is a far more exciting destination for our clients than Brno," Bolgar said.

The hosted deluxe version of Imperial Trails has an increased number of hotel options this year, including the Hilton and Kempinski in Budapest; the ANA Grand, Bristol and Inter-Continental in Vienna, and the Savoy, Palace and Inter-Continental in Prague.

"Travelers are becoming more sophisticated and have a greater knowledge of hotels overseas than ever before," Bolgar said.

"This means operators have to give them a greater number of hotel options and not just say, 'Here it is, take it or leave it.' "

Also on the deluxe tour, clients travel by hydrofoil between Budapest and Vienna and by business class air between Vienna and Prague.

"We cut out the coach, which makes it possible to offer the deluxe program for a minimum of two people, any day of the week," Bolgar said.

Another top seller for Tradesco, its 21-night Budapest spa special for the price of a two-week stay, has an increased number of departure dates this year. Eleven are scheduled from April through November.

The spa program, priced from $1,875 to $2,623, double, depending on departure date, includes balineotherapy, half board, roundtrip air from New York, tax and service charges and accommodations at the Margaret Island, Thermal Hotel Margitsziget or the Ramada Grand Hotel Margitsziget.

For information, call (800) 448-4321; fax (310) 649-5852.

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