Globus and Collette are reporting "gangbuster"
sales for 2018, allowing the tour operators to guarantee most or all remaining
inventory for the year.
The Globus family of brands at the end of February moved all
2018 European departures to guaranteed, and this week the company moved all 2018
North America departures into the guaranteed category, too.
"We've never guaranteed the season this early. This for
us is a first," said Steve Born, Globus senior vice president of
marketing. Typically, Globus has guaranteed 80% of departures at this time of
The company reported that its ability to make the move was
fueled by a 22% increase in bookings for 2018 over 2017 across its four brands --
Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways. Born noted that Italy alone had
an unprecedented 42% jump in bookings this year.
And Globus isn't the only tour operator that has been able
to guarantee more departures, thanks to strong sales.
Last month, Collette announced that all its remaining global
departures through Aug. 31 are guaranteed to operate.
"We're having a great year with double-digit increases
in sales. Business is going really well," said Courtney Iannuccilli, vice
president of marketing at Collette. Iannuccilli added that the move to guarantee
all departures through the high travel season was based on conversations
Collette's sales team has had with travel agents who said they want to book
with tour operators guaranteeing departures.
"It builds trust with their customers and eliminates
any uncertainty about counting on a sale," said Iannuccilli.
Most tour operators launch their product during the fall,
and many kick off with a certain percentage of their tours guaranteed to
operate. Globus, for instance, starts with about 30% of its departures being
guaranteed. Not all tour operators operate on this model. G Adventures, for
instance, guarantees all their tour departures right out of the gate, and Tauck
does not guarantee departures because the tour operator has said it typically
operates the vast majority of its departures.
But for those that do operate on the guaranteed-departure
model, departures referred to as "definite" or "guaranteed"
mean that they will not be canceled for any reason other than those beyond the
operator's control, such as an extreme weather event.
Departures that are not guaranteed can get canceled if not
enough people book them. For instance, if only a handful of people book a tour
that can accommodate as many as 45 guests, it can be a money-losing endeavor to
go ahead with the tour. The operator might be forced to cancel that departure
and offer already-booked passengers the opportunity to join another tour that
departs on a different date.
The possibility of that happening is usually explained in
the brochure and/or by a travel seller and is of course a less-than-ideal
scenario for all involved.
In other words, the more departures operators can guarantee,
Ultimately, said Iannuccilli, "We really want to give
the travel professional confidence that their hard work is going to pay off --
that they will never have to make that unfortunate call to a customer that a
trip isn't going to happen."
Born said agents know that tours aren't canceled very often,
"but when it does, it hurts. From a practical standpoint, they don't want
to be in a position to redo a booking."