Transat launches new "Discoveries" program aimed at Ontario travellers
It's a tough economic climate, but Transat thinks it's got a winner.
Officials from the Montreal-based company put on a glitzy press conference Tuesday night at an event space near King and Dufferin and announced "Transat Discoveries," its first-ever project aimed (for now) squarely at the solid, English-speaking market in Ontario.
The program will offer "escorted and exotic, long-haul" tours that can easily be customized. Tours will go to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in Asia, and to Latin American destinations such as Brazil, Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands) and Peru. In Africa,they'll do everything from Kenya and Tanzania to Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Eastern Europe also will be on the table, including Poland and the Czech Republic, with side tours available for Russia and Croatia.
All properties except remote lodges will be four to five star properties, and most tours will be 10-25 people with English-speaking guides. They've even hired Anglophone telephone operators to man the stations at their Montreal booking office to be sure English-speaking Canadians are comfortable.
"We can customize almost anything," said Dan Prior, Transat Discoveries' Sales Director for Ontario. "You can do a month in January at the beach in Asia if you want. Or do an Iceland spa or a plowing match in Croatia. And, yes, they have plowing matches in Croatia."
The program is aimed at folks in their late 30s, right up to active folks in their 70s.
Prior said they won't be traditional coach tours but will be more "experiential" so travellers can get a better feel for the country they're visiting and get away from the tourist crowds.
"It's not luxury travel but it's not a mainstream coach, either," Prior said.
"It gives people something more independent, without them having to do all the arrangements themselves," he said, and that sounds pretty darn good for those of us in our mid-50's with interest in going beyond the Uffizi in Florence and Christ the Redeemer in Rio but with little time to plan things in detail.
He said they won't be using charters but will instead use major carriers such as Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and Air France. That's a relief for some travellers who might fear a sardine can in the sky.
The focus is on Ontario for now but they'll take bookings from across Canada.
Asked about pricing, Prior looked a journalist in the eye and said, deadpan, "We'll be cheaper than anybody out there."
"No, seriously, we'll have very competitive pricing."
Booking with cash can save money, and booking early for the coming winter could save up to $1,040 per couple, Prior said.
All in all, it sounds like a winner.
For more information call (416) 620-8066 or 1-855-300-3866 or go www.transatdiscoveries.com.