As Le Boat prepares for its debut on Canadian soil – make that Canadian water, with a new route launching along the Rideau Canal in May 2018 – Europe’s largest operator of self-drive boating vacations is also focused on growing its business with travel agents across the country.
In Toronto yesterday (Aug. 9) for a media luncheon, Cheryl Brown, managing director at Le Boat, said agents can earn up to 15% commission on bookings, and the company is busy meeting with agencies this week in order to make a bigger splash in the market. While Canadians were previously able to embark on Le Boat journeys in Europe, where its most popular destination remains France, this is the company’s first foray into having a product offering in Canada.
“The picturesque Rideau Canal is the place to be next summer. With endless land and water activities along the route from fishing, paddle boating, canoeing to hiking, biking, and bird-watching, this will be an experience you’ll never forget,” she says. “We are seeing a lot of interest from our European and US customers with all of them saying they would travel to Ontario for a boating holiday.”
Likening the product to having a moving condo on the water, Brown says Le Boat provides passengers with a 45-minute training session prior to departure.
Andrew Le Duc, head of global customer engagement at Le Boat, said that within a week of opening up sales for the new route, which marks the company’s first cruising destination outside of Europe, they’d already sold more than 15% of its occupancy.
With the Canadian launch, which will start with 16 vessels and is slated to expand to 32 over the next five years, Le Boat is relocating its North American headquarters to Smiths Falls, Ont., where the trips end and begin. The Canadian product will be on its premium ships, The Horizon.
Overall, Le Boat currently has 900 boats across eight countries, and its parent company is Travelopia, which has 53 specialized businesses.
Le Duc says the average age of passengers is 55, and guests range from families to couple to groups of friends, as well as dog owners who bring their pets along for the ride.
“They want to get away from the day to day, it’s that sense of escapism,” he says.
Pictured at the event are Andrew Le Duc, head of global customer engagement, and Cheryl Brown, managing director at Le Boat.