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Monday, June 23, 2014

Tauck of the Town: Major US tour operator ramping up Australian operations.

MS Savor christening in Bingen, Germany
by Traveloscopy.com editor, Roderick Eime, on location aboard Tauck MS Savor in Germany.

Australians will soon be learning lots more about this stalwart US travel brand when it launches wholeheartedly into the Australian market shortly.

Although the brand has been represented in Australia by GSA Travel the World (TTW) since 1987, Tauck will significantly ramp up its presence in Australia and New Zealand beginning this year with specially selected, priced and promoted offerings for Australians. For example Ita Buttrose hosted the French Waterways River Cruise from Paris to Lyon in May.

This last week I have been fortunate enough to sample the Tauck brand up close and dispel any reservations or misguided preconceptions I might have had about a US group tour company.

Loft suite on Inspire class vessel
As bear hugs and cheek pecks were exchanged after a week in Rome and on the Amalfi Coast of Italy with a group of 22 goggle-eyed Americans and a charming tour guide, I can happily report one of my most enjoyable small group experiences ever.

Not only were my travelling companions polite, flexible and appreciative, the level of organisation and smooth logistics were very impressive, especially in a country like Italy where punctuality and reliability are largely optional.

Following on from the land tour, I was spirited to Frankfurt for the christening of the newest Inspire-class vessel, MS Savor. This vessel incorporates many features that are exclusive to Tauck having been designed and built in close consultation with Swiss builder and operator, Scylla.

In particular, a stern-located casual dining venue and lower deck 'loft' suites set the Inspire class (135m) vessels apart. Two further vessels of this class are planned for 2016 launch to complement the existing four Jewel class (110m) vessels currently operating the major rivers of Europe, the Rhine, Main and Danube. These new launches will add an extra 55 per cent capacity to Tauck's inventory in 2014 alone according to CEO, Dan Mahar.

Tauck CEO Dan Mahar
“While around 80 per cent of our customer base is on land tours, the number of river cruising guests is growing proportionately,' says Mahar, “I'm confident this demand will continue if our recent record business years are any indication.”

Truly all-inclusive pricing may raise the price of admittance to the Tauck family tours, but the company is is unrepentant and it's a policy maintained since 1925 when old grandpa Arthur offered his first packages at $69 for six days by rented Studebaker along the Northwest coast of America.

Today, under the stewardship of Arthur Tauck Jnr, through many challenging periods of history, the multi-award-winning company is still family-owned and run and has grown from these modest beginnings to now offer more than 100 escorted journeys in 70 countries by road, rail, sea and air.

Agents too are embraced by the Tauck philosophy with intensive training in brand values and client alignment. The idea being to make sure that travellers are correctly introduced to the Tauck product and understand the unique selling points of the offering.

From my own experience, albeit short, I would have no hesitation recommending Tauck for worldly 50+ travellers and even families and groups from clubs and associations.

For further information for both travellers and agents, see www.traveltheworld.com.au
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