Over the past several months, Travel Impressions has added
or enhanced products in 11 European countries, a big push in direct response to
agents asking for more options on the continent in addition to traditional
sun-and-sand vacations.

“Europe’s had 32% growth for us last year,” said
Travel Impressions president Scott Wiseman. “The fastest booking growth is
coming from places like Zurich, Oslo, Santorini, Milan.”

While the bulk of Travel Impressions’ business remains
resort destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, the packager has
been offering Europe for decades, among numerous other international
destinations. And in the past year and a half, he said, agent partners have
been asking for alternative options in Europe, beyond the big blockbuster
destinations such as Paris, London and Rome.

“I was getting a lot of requests [asking] if we could
put a little more energy and effort into destinations that are perceived in
Europe as maybe more safe, destinations where it’s difficult to secure space
because they’re really popular, particularly in high season, looking for more
flexibility in destinations we’ve been going to already, [and for] more product
in established destinations,” Wiseman said.

Consequently, Travel Impressions has added or expanded
products in Iceland, Italy, Switzerland, England, Scotland, France, Denmark,
Finland, Norway, Sweden and Greece, either on its own or through partnerships
with several travel companies, including Back-Roads Touring, Charme &
Adventure, Icelandair Group and Tours2Greece.

Wiseman said there are several factors driving interest not
just in Europe’s most popular destinations but in its off-the-beaten-path
places.

He said many travelers have already been to Europe and  have done the most popular tourist
destinations and are now looking for something different. Additionally, Europe
has become a popular place to go with family and groups of friends.

Moreover, he said, with the growing popularity of genetic
tests that enable consumers to identify their ancestry, it’s becoming more
popular to explore regions where distant relatives might have been from.

Ultimately, he said, the push into Europe is about helping
agents keep bookings and also keep bookings with Travel Impressions.

“Even if 80% of their business is Mexico and Caribbean
all-inclusives,” Wiseman said, “they know that when they do that call
from their client who says, ‘OK, I want to do something different. I want to go
to Europe,’ they want to be able to fulfill that request and not lose it or
work with someone else.”

So far, Wiseman said, the new products are resonating with
travelers, with bookings picking up for the added destinations. He added that
the company doesn’t have plans to add much more product in Europe. Instead, he
said, it is going to catch its breath and focus on other possibilities for
adding or enhancing products in other destinations, such as Asia.

“We’re not counting on any huge rollouts in any additional
areas for Europe right now,” Wiseman said. “That was a lot to
deliver.”



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