Central Holidays is revving up for an exciting year. The company is expanding to launch more products than ever before, adding 60 new itineraries and new destinations spanning Africa, Europe and Latin America. Recommend caught up with CEO Gianni Miradoli to find out what travel agents can expect in 2014 and beyond.
Lane Nieset (LN): Can you tell us about some of the new itineraries? What type of feedback are you receiving?
Gianni Miradoli (GM): Central Holidays has a huge amount of repeat clients, and this means that we are providing the services that the clients are asking for. At the same time, it’s a challenge since we need to provide something else for those clients. This is why we decided to do two things: add new itineraries to our programs, mainly for our strongest destinations—Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey—and because we are a group of different brands, add new destinations.
LN: Which new itineraries are you most excited about launching? Why did Central Holidays decide to add these options to the portfolio?
GM: In Europe, we added Croatia, which was a very good product many years ago, but then with the war that occurred in Yugoslavia, we discontinued this area. Now that the political issues are over and the situation has stabilized, Croatia is a fantastic destination. So with this addition, Central Holidays covers the entire portion of Europe in the Mediterranean from Portugal to Israel, offering all of the countries in between.
In Italy, we decided to add escorted tours to three areas, since it seems like escorted tours are becoming very strong. This year we had an increase of over 20 percent on passengers on escorted tours in Italy. We decided to add regions that are in demand like the Puglia region in the southeast of Italy; the lakes in the northern part of Italy; and Sardinia.
If you add everything, we are introducing close to 60 new itineraries.
LN: Why did Central Holidays decide to add more experiential and fitness-inspired travel?
GM: We went back to the Enchanting River Cruises; it was a brand that was put on hold a couple of years ago, and I decided to put it back on the marketplace because river cruising/barging is a very good product and there’s a high demand for that.
I had the idea years ago to go into soft adventure, but to do that, you need to have the people who can help you really put together the packages. For trekking in Italy, you need licensed people who can really drive the clients ,and they’re not easy to find. Having the support of alpine guides, for example, on this type of service, I thought it was the moment to launch these programs. It’s because I had the support of key people I am sure can help us to operate these tours in the correct way.
LN: Who is the typical Central Holidays’ customer and what are they looking for out of a vacation?
GM: Because we gather a great range of customers from boomers to multigenerational travelers, couples, friends and honeymooners, we don’t have a typical client. The vast range of programs we have are ideal for any type of traveler. We customize in any possible way to your wishes. We can change, modify or build a trip from scratch. Our brochures are just ideas, guidelines for clients to build their own programs, to let them know that we are the specialists, we know the destinations, and we can provide them with all of the necessary support to create their package.
LN: What types of changes can travel agents expect? What can they tell their clients about these new itineraries?
GM: Travel agents are our best friends and they are the ones that really drive our business. Ninety percent of business is from travel agents. We recommend that clients go to travel agents because they can prepare their travels and call us to finalize the itinerary.
We believe that in 2014, the travel industry will be recovering from the past four or five years. We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, and we think it’s going to be the start of a new year for travel. We want to be ready on the marketplace for the challenge.
For more information, visit centralholidays.com.