Great Expectations from The Travel Corporation

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TheTravel Corporation hosted members of the travel industry at a gala reception in New York City, showcasing eight of its 25 branded companies that include luxury hotels, boutique river cruise ships and tour operators marketing escorted or independent travel. Among the members, those marketing Europe reported a particularly strong year in 2010, and expectations are even higher for this year as many companies report advance bookings to be among their highest ever recorded. This particularly upbeat outlook for 2011 sales is based on high demand for escorted tours, small boat cruises, upscale travel and family travel.

Following are many of the “what’s new” in The Travel Corporation marketplace.

• Insight Vacations moves decidedly up-market with its new Insight Goldprogram, introducing what president Marc Kazlauskas calls, “An exceptional range of seven uniquely tailored, deluxe tours staying in luxury hotels and dining in their outstanding restaurants.” There are seven tours in the program—three featuring Nile River cruise packages aboard the newly built River Tosca and four are European tours, including a 15-day Gold Britain and Ireland package, priced from $5,435 pp dbl, a 12-day European Masterpiecethat is structured with 2-night stays in France and Italy and TGV overland travel, priced from $5,050, a 12-day Iberian Classic tour through Spain and Portugal, priced from $3,650, and an 11-day Italian Vogue program, priced from $4,350. According to Kazlauskas, the premium features of the Goldprogram include smaller group sizes, luxury coaches, and an expert tour director on hand to act as a “personal concierge” and to offer guests a range of half- and full-day excursions tailored to individual tastes.

Contact: (800) 582-8380; insightvacations.com

African Travel, Inc. markets Africa B (Botswana) to Z (Zambia/Zimbabwe), and according to the company’s new president Jim Holden, “All we sell is Africa.” And that focus, covering 16 destinations, plays out through all staff members who have either lived in or traveled extensively in Africa, he adds. African Travel, Inc.’s premium and deluxe products range from 14 locally hosted tours with a choice in accommodation levels to a new category called Exclusively Yours, Africa!, which is a luxury collection of 18 themed specialty safaris highlighting romance, family, action and cultural experiences. The newest addition to this product is the Sweet Life Culinary Tour, a 9-night “foodie” itinerary offering a mix of  private tastings, gourmet meals, hands-on cooking lessons and an elephant-back safari.

Contact: (800) 421-8907; africantravelinc.com

Trafalgar Tours is taking family travel very seriously. It has launched a new Family Experiences Blog, written by veteran travel writer Luisa Frey, that includes an inside look at a Trafalgar Family Experiences Vacation. This new venture is part of the company’s Family Experiences website, devoted entirely to the 14 custom-designed, guided Trafalgar Family Experience Vacations. Designed to appeal to all ages, six of these itineraries are new: An African Adventure (South Africa), Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes (Costa Rica),Magical Matterhorn (Switzerland), Castles & Kilts (UK), Rockies Thrills & Glacier Spills (Canada), and Trails of Liberty (USA). Trafalgar president Paul Wiseman points out that, “We enable multi-generation travelers to fully immerse themselves in each destination by taking part in activities unique to the local area.” He gives as examples: visiting a chocolate factory inSwitzerland, a safari in South Africa, or trekking the rim of a volcano in theCosta Rica rainforest.

Additionally, Trafalgar recently announced the launch of its Celebrate Italy with Trafalgar campaign, which runs until Feb. 27. For travel agents, each client booked on a 2011 Trafalgar vacation (for travel April 1 through October 31, 2011) enters you into Trafalgar’s weekly drawing for an Apple iPad. Plus, you’ll earn double Trafalgar Travel Cash on every booking. To enter, mention BOOKITALY at the time of booking. Visit trafalgartours.com/celebrateitaly for more information.

Contact: (866) 544-4434; trafalgartours.com

Lion World Tours, specializing in group and individual tours to Southern and East Africa, is offering two, air-inclusive Safari on Sale packages to South Africa or Kenya, featuring “unbelievable prices for an unforgettable African experience,” according to company president Lucille Sive. “We’ve been in business for 40 years, and providing affordable luxury and value for money are what keep clients coming back to us.”

Valid March 1-April 30, South Africa’s Safari on Sale is a 9-day program priced at $2,499. Included are four nights at the Commodore Hotel in Cape Townand two nights at one of two luxury Tinga Private Game Lodges (managed by Lion World) with game drives, transfers, a Winelands Tour, most meals and internal air. Additionally, the cost includes roundtrip economy-class air fromWashington, D.C. to South Africa on Ethiopian Airlines’ brand-new 777LR aircraft and all fuel surcharges.