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The conventional wisdom today is that travelers — especially millennials — want to feel like they’ve had authentic experiences full of surprise and delight.
So where does that concept leave guided tours, which make up a big part of business for The Travel Corporation?
That’s just one of the challenges CEO Brett Tollman is facing these days at the helm of the 30-brand company. At the Skift Global Forum 2016 in New York City earlier this year, he spoke about efforts to customize packaged trips according to individual desires, the way the company is marketing to younger travelers, and the unique difficulties in selling trips to areas in Europe that have seen multiple terror attacks.
Acknowledging that the company offers a niche product, Tollman said escorted tours actually provide peace of mind for some travelers.
“One of the things we see, frankly is that many people say they want to go and do their own thing,” he said. “But when you are traveling in a country where there’s foreign languages and other issues, sometimes you do kind of want a guiding hand to help you.”
He also discussed the his continued efforts to sell tours on online travel agency sites such as Expedia.com.
“The challenge for the OTAs is they’ve got a huge pipeline of IT projects, obviously, and being we’re a relatively niche business, there’s always bigger priorities,” he said. “I’ve just got to continue to be a squeaky wheel with [Expedia CEO] Dara [Khosrowshahi]. He does listen, and he’s promised that we’re going to get there.”
Watch the complete discussion with Tollman below.
At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.