Tauck Rolls Out the Second Year of BBC Earth
PHOTO: A BBC filmmaker with Tauck in Botswana. (Photo courtesy of Tauck)
Tauck rolled out its second year edition of its BBC Earth Journeys. Following the same path as Tauck’s tour/film partnership with filmmaker Ken Burns introduced in 2010, Tauck rolled out its first tours from its BBC Earth partnership in 2015. As with the Ken Burns partnership, the idea is to infuse Tauck tour experiences with BBC content.
The merging of the film company and the tour company takes place on three levels: insights and expertise from BBC filmmakers that Tauck leverages in crafting Earth Journeys itineraries, film vignettes shown during the tour experience, and finally what Tauck calls the “gadgets” of the BBC filmmakers, such as FLIR thermal imaging cameras and camera traps, which will also become part of the tour experience on some Tauck tours.
BBC Earth is a division of BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of The British Broadcasting Corp., and the producer of nature-based documentaries such as “Planet Earth,” “Frozen Planet” and “Life and The Blue Planet."
As the tour operator rolls out its second year’s BBC product line, Tauck’s Jeremy Palmer believes the bugs have been worked out and the new product line is up and running without a hitch.
“Twenty-fifteen was the launch year of BBC Earth Journeys,” said Palmer. “We didn’t have all our itineraries in place, though we had all the components in place. It was our first time running through the tours. In 2016 we are now in our full portfolio. We have 17 itineraries that are BBC Earth Journeys covering all our natural history footprint from Africa, to the poles, to the Galapagos, to India, etc. We have all the BBC videos in place that our guests are watching. And we have all the gadgets in place.”
The BBC content has been introduced to Tauck programs across the company’s various product lines, including its traditional Tauck World Discovery escorted tour programs, its Bridges family programs, its Culturious programs for the “culturally curious” and its small ship series.
The nature element is growing in popularity in touring, Palmer said.
“Experiences that are nature focused or animal focused are an incredibly important part of our industry,” said Palmer. “It’s one of fastest growing sectors. Within Tauck not only is it one of our fastest growing product lines in terms of absolute numbers, people traveling to these natural realms is a fair proportion of our business.”
Tauck’s integration of the BBC content into its nature-based programs is similar to how it integrated Ken Burns film content into its North American tours.
“Anything that’s in North America we’ve infused with the Ken Burns content because it makes that experience better,” said Palmer. “It’s the same philosophy with BBC. We’re always trying to give our guests better stories, richer content, exclusive content, so we partnered with the BBC to provide that. It doesn’t matter which brand it is, if it’s touching natural history or animals, we’ve layered in BBC content to make the experience better.”
Guest reaction has been strongly positive, Palmer said, and guests are saying they want more BBC content.
“So what we’re doing now is we are in discussions with BBC to expand the partnership, to move into other content areas and to other physical geographies. We’re looking to expand within natural history realm and perhaps beyond.”
The merging of touring and filmmaking comes down to the common element of storytelling.
“The whole basis of this is that the BBC folks who work on 'Planet Earth' are some of the best storytellers you’ll ever meet,” said Palmer. “These folks are the real deal in terms of the filming, the knowledge, the passion... You just can’t help but learn and be energized when talk to them.”
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