PHOTO: Jaclyn Leibl-Cote discusses increasing demand for Europe, travel trends and new tours.
As the daughter of Dan Sullivan, president of Collette, Jaclyn Leibl-Cote grew up in the travel industry. After working outside of the company with ADP Solutions – as is required of family members – she joined Collette in 2005, working in product development and sales before becoming executive vice president of product. We caught up with Leibl-Cote to discuss how Europe is faring in 2017, what destinations are hot and how Collette is shaping its programs to stay in step with emerging travel trends.
What kind of demand are you seeing for Europe tours now?
We’re seeing incredible growth in Europe for tours departing in 2017, specifically in areas such as Iceland, Scotland and the Azores. As a result of this, we’ve increased our departures to meet demand.
Our numbers are up almost 40 percent in northern Spain and our Spain/Portugal numbers are up in the 25 percent range, which goes back to the drive of tourism to Europe. I also think this is a result of the media [coverage]. For instance, Portugal is hot, hot, hot right now – and ‘lists’ of the best places to go have been including it as of late.
To offer clients what they want, we’ve identified buckets of areas that work well together [to offer] “Amsterdam & London,” “Best of Britain and Ireland,” “Captivating Europe,” “France & Italy,” “Portugal, Spain and France” and “The Complete European Journey.”
What are you seeing in the way of changing travel styles?
We’re anticipating more requests for adventure travel in 2017. In fact, 69 percent of all age groups are planning to try something new when it comes to travel, according to TripBarometer. Some tour suggestions to fulfill this request include our “China Highlights,” “Classic Tanzania,” “Complete South America,” “Exploring Australia,” “Highlights of Morocco,” “Iceland’s Magical Northern Lights” and “U.K. by Rail.”
What are you seeing in terms of travel trends?
Guests are looking for unique and authentic experiences. We often hear that our guests want to experience life as a local, which includes taking cooking classes, tasting fine wine and experiencing home-hosted stays, to name a few possibilities.
Some of the tours that offer these experiences include “Discover Tuscany,” “England’s Treasures,” “Irish Splendor,” “Journey to Southern France,” “Madrid, Seville and Lisbon,” “Northern Spain and Portugal,” “Splendid Sicilia” and “Treasures of Piedmont.”
Is Collette introducing any new tours in Europe in 2017?
We are offering 17 new tours for 2017, and many of them are in Europe. On our “Romantic Road and Fairy Tale Road,” guests see the best of Germany’s iconic cities and its stunning countryside on a trip out of the pages of a storybook.
READ MORE: Experience Wonder Traveling to Britain and Ireland with Collette
On our “Amsterdam and London” tour, guests come to know two of Europe’s most dynamic cities on a leisurely paced, in-depth exploration. “Irish Adventure” offers a chance to experience Ireland’s thriving farm-to-table movement during a cooking class at one of Dublin’s premier culinary schools.
What are some of the ways in which Collette is giving its customers a chance to immerse themselves in local culture?
Guests can savor a pint of ‘the black stuff’ at the Guinness Storehouse and visit the Irish National Stud [a thoroughbred horse-breeding facility in Tully] to learn about one of Ireland’s most lucrative industries as well to gain a new perspective on Ireland and its people. “The Complete European Journey” gives a taste of the diverse cultures, history and cuisine of 10 different European nations, including Germany, Italy, Slovenia and France. There are so many treasures to uncover!
Guests can discover the flavors of Belgium on a culinary discovery tour in Brussels, on which they will visit Bruges, cruise a section of the scenic Rhine River and see the Lorelei rock.
They can tour the fairy-tale city of Prague with a local guide and choose their dinner experience. They can learn about Vienna’s splendid history during a city tour featuring Schoenbrunn Palace and savor dinner in Grinzing, Vienna’s wine-growing district. They can come to know Budapest with a local guide, enjoy a castle dinner in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and embark on a Pletna boat cruise on Lake Bled.
What is most exciting to you about Europe today?
One of the most exciting features about Europe is its close proximity to so many different opportunities in one relatively small and accessible area. Many of the greatest attractions are just a train ride away from each other, which gives guests the opportunity to do more, see more and take advantage of their flights. Walking through the classic Christmas markets during the holidays or having dinner at the Eiffel Tower is so romantic – and these are just some examples of the experiences that we offer on tour.