Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Oct 23, 2017

The inside scoop on Contiki’s new Independent Insider


(Photo above: Pictured at the launch event for Contiki’s Europe summer 2018/19 program held at The Drake Hotel are (l-r): Jeff Element, president, The Travel Corporation Canada; Gabrielle Nydam, president, Contiki Holidays Canada and Sheralyn Berry, vice president of sales, Contiki Holidays Canada.)

Contiki is ready to debut a travel style that’s all about giving clients the power to decide where they want to go and what they want to do on a European vacation.

“The Independent Insider is basically designed for freedom,” Gabrielle Nydam, president of Contiki Holidays Canada told Canadian Travel Press at a launch event in Toronto for the youth travel brand’s Europe summer 2018/19 program. “It’s looking at three nights in cities throughout Europe and you can come and go when it comes to the locations. Let’s say you’re doing London to Berlin, you can drop London and start in Paris, or you can drop Berlin because you’ve been before.”

Stemming from 18-months of research, she says the concept came to life after survey results found millennials were looking to have customizable options and more flexibility to explore on tours, but still have the perks and connectivity of group travel.

“Every year we do a lot of extensive research on our clients, millennials, and what they’re looking for, and we saw that 67% of the people wanted more choice on their trips, and about 70% of people were looking for more free time to explore each city their way, but still a good 74% were wanting that social connection with other awesome millennials beyond social media,” she says.

The modular trips, which are set to replace the existing Easy Pace travel style, range from three to 12 nights. With no structured itineraries, and multiple start and end destinations, travellers can select up to four European cities for their tour. During each city stop, clients have a free day to explore.

Contiki’s new Independent Insider is available across some of Europe’s most popular summer locations like Nice, Copenhagen, Budapest, Mykonos, the Amalfi Coast and Porto.

“The travellers that we think are going to be into this are travellers who may have been to Europe before but want a little bit more time and freedom,” she says. “There’s also the idea that they could be bridging the FIT gap where they might not be completely comfortable to just go on and book everything independently – they want the hotel taken care of, they want to make that social connection with other people and they want to have the tour manager there in some orientation, but they also want that freedom to explore their own way.”

Options are based across some of Europe’s most popular summer locations including Nice, Copenhagen, Budapest, Mykonos, the Amalfi Coast and Porto.

Along with the new travel style, there’s also lots new with Contiki’s Europe Summer 2018/19 program – like 26 new and improved trips. New itineraries include The Best of Britain, a 10-day summer-only itinerary to London, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and Cardiff; Ibiza & Beyond, a nine day trip from Barcelona to Ibiza, Valencia and Madrid; Fire & Ice, a six day winter trip in Iceland; and Fiestas & Siestas, an eleven night trip visiting top spots in Spain and Portugal.

“The Canadian market, for 2017, we’re up over 2016 and Contiki had a good year in 2016,” notes Jeff Element, president, The Travel Corporation Canada. “We’re off to an amazing start, we’re up 22% for 2018, and our brochures really haven’t even come out so Canadians are travelling. They’re really out travelling this year.”

At the event Contiki also announced an impending partnership with Air Canada Vacations, which will allow travellers to book air packages on five European experiences, and receive a $50 voucher towards free-time Contiki add-ons.
To encourage more bookings, the operator also extended its Early Payment Discount program from Oct. 18 until Feb. 21, 2018.

“We want them to capitalize on the best savings of the year, but also for our travel agents partners, to be able to offer that 10% off for a longer period of time,” says Sheralyn Berry, vice president of sales, Contiki Canada. “Giving a longer life of having those discounts so our agent partners can really make sure they close every sale and capitalize on our savings.”

As this year marks Contiki Holidays’ 35th year of operations in Canada – and 55 years overall – Nydam credits the company’s constant innovations as one of ways it stays relevant in the industry.

“What is so important to Contiki is knowing what our consumer wants. Knowing what the next generation wants and being innovative constantly,” she says. “It’s been 55 years, but there’s been so many changes. We do research, we test consistently, we learn, we adjust and then we find what the next big cool thing is going to be for our next generation and then we launch.”

Show me the money!

Tips on how agents can amp up their Contiki bookings

“If you’ve sold a Contiki trip in the past, reach out to them and let them know about our Independent Insider, let them know about our 26 new trips, and let them know about the discounts they could have with the Early Payment Discount,” says Sheralyn Berry, vice president of sales, Contiki Holiday Canada. “And they also get a 5% discount as being a past traveller, so that’s 15%.”

“The millennial lives within the social media platform so whether
it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, it’s just a matter of getting social because that’s where they’re hanging out,” Berry says. “It’s free advertising to do so. Follow Contiki and you can literally share everything that we post and put your own little message behind it as well. It comes down to social media, extending those offers and reaching out to them.”

Through the new Independent Insider travel style, Jeff Element, president, The Travel Corporation Canada, points out that agents can earn commission on all aspects of the booking.
“One of the great things about this new style of trips is a customer may come in and ask for an FIT product, by the time they piece it all together, they’ll only earn commission on some of it, not all of it,” he says. “If they book this with Contiki, they’ll earn commission on the whole thing. It’s much better for our travel agent partners.”

“Even sharing an influencer’s blog post might inspire someone to go to Spain,” adds Gabrielle Nydam, president of Contiki Canada. “There’s so many tips and tricks, but Contiki U constantly has some updates around that so we always encourage that too.”

“Contiki travellers are a travel agent’s future traveller,” says Berry. “They’re going to start at a Contiki and then graduate onto other TravCorp products. That’s a great opportunity – to get them while they’re young. It’s the opportunity to have a repeat traveller.”