The sector will continue to grow, says Scenic director of trade sales Joseph Grimley

Well known for five-star all-inclusive river cruises, many agents are unaware that Scenic’s roots are in escorted touring. Last year we launched our established Scenic escorted touring product to the UK trade, so that all of our ever-growing portfolio is now available for travel agents to sell and incentivised by a new touring rewards scheme.

It has been a busy 18 months for us, working to establish ourselves as the go-to provider of five-star luxury escorted tours, supported by a dedicated trade team.

We have found that there is an ever-growing appetite in the UK for more inclusive quality, luxury touring, a demand that wasn’t being met, and so we launched our Australia, New Zealand, the Americas and Southeast Asia products in the UK.

Following the popularity of our Southeast Asia collection we then launched new itineraries in the Far East, including Japan, China, India and Sri Lanka. Customers really want to experience a country to its fullest, with unique experiences, and value for money. They are happy to pay more for a 5-Star escorted tour, as the inclusions and quality ultimately deliver a better experience, worth every penny.

Another area which we have identified to be growing in the UK market is Egypt, Africa & Jordan, which we launched with Scenic over a year ago and more recently Emerald Waterways. These destinations are all ‘bucket list’ with the Great Pyramids, African safari, Lawrence of Arabia’s Wadi Rum and the River Nile all available to see, however customers have been wary of visiting these areas independently in recent years. Escorted touring provides a safety net to experience these iconic locations, with tours being accompanied by experienced and knowledgably guides, and these have sold particularly well through travel agents.

Our Scenic escorted touring product portfolio continues to grow for 2020/21, with a new 15-day Persia Unveiled itinerary, featured in the new 2020/21 Middle East & Africa collection which launched in August 2019. This gives customers the opportunity to sample the splendours of civilisations dating back more than 3,000 years.

Last year we joined Atas to raise our presence among travel agents who promote and sell escorted touring holidays. We are hoping to work with the group to dispel any myths about hidden costs, or guests being herded through sites with hundreds of tourists.

Scenic offers exclusive, often once-in-a-lifetime experiences, only available for our own guests, as well as daily Scenic Freechoice options which can be chosen from, rather than a strict schedule which many customers want to avoid, such as taking a ride on a Harley Davidson™ at Ayers Rock. We also offer a la carte dining choices in hotels and local restaurants, rather than the stock set menu in a hotel.

More and more customers and travel agents are embracing the benefits of escorted touring, which can only mean the sector will continue to grow, as it has for Scenic.