By Ensemble Travel in conversation with Contiki · October 2020
As travel begins to reopen and travelers begin to book their long-awaited trips once again, we wanted to find out more. So, we sat down with Sheralyn Berry, President of Contiki Canada, and David Marathakis, Head of Sales at Contiki Canada, to learn what types of trips travelers are booking and what consumers can expect from a Contiki vacation.
Q: Tell us a bit about Contiki and the products and services the company offers.
At Contiki, we make travel a shared experience. Our trips are exclusively for those aged 18-35, and whether travelers join us solo or in a group, the trips are designed to share incredible experiences with travelers with similar interests from all around the world. We bring people together, we help them discover new cultures, new places, new flavors, and even themselves by showing them the authentic side of the destinations they visit.
The year 2020 was not quite the travel-heavy, adventurous year we had in mind. However, as the world reopens and adapts to a new way of traveling, we want travelers to feel amazing about it and have something epic to look forward to. So, Contiki is here to help with everything from transportation to health advice, changing plans and sorting accommodation. There’s no need to do all the work alone when guests can travel with Contiki – we take over the more challenging travel-related tasks. And when travelers are done exploring all our trips in Europe, they can check out our other trips around the world.
Q: Why book with Contiki for your next vacation?
We make travel easier. Transportation, accommodation, experiences, and plenty of delicious meals are all included in the price of a trip, so travelers never have to worry about the details. Our expert Trip Managers, Drivers, and Local Guides sort out the logistics so guests can travel hassle-free.
From start to finish, on each trip, guests will be traveling with their own “travel bubble” of Contiki travelers. All activities and meals will take place with these travelers only, and the entire trip will be overseen by our highly trained Trip Manager. We’ve vetted all local suppliers and guides to ensure that hygiene and distancing protocols are adhered to at all times. From the time when the booking is made to the day of departure, we’ll communicate regularly and will keep each guest up to date on any changes or developments so they’re ready to go.
Q: What locations and types of travel are consumers booking with Contiki for 2021 and 2022?
What has been positive to see is that 18-35 year old’s still want to travel and are booking! We are seeing two main regions that are of interest to future travelers: Canada and Europe. We recently launched four brand new trips in Canada as local adventures, after seeing demand pick up for local travel, which we noticed after conducting a survey this year among 1,100 Canadian millennials and Gen Z travelers. What is drawing our travelers to these regions are the experiences that Contiki offers – from visiting a Wolfdog sanctuary as a Contiki Cares initiative in Banff, going whale watching in Halifax, or spending an evening at an authentic sugar shack in Montreal, these are just some of the new additions to our newly-launched Canada local adventure trips. In Europe, Contiki has launched over 20 new trips and experiences that cater to every traveler’s interests. Contiki also has a series of active trips that include experiences like yoga and surfing, as well as a cycling trips through France where travelers can indulge in a Special Stay at our very own French Chateau (don’t worry, it is not the Tour de France). We have also included eight Pride-dedicated itineraries alongside our existing European trips to offer an even greater immersive experience and cater to various interests.
Q: For North American travelers looking to travel domestically, what does Contiki offer?
When the pandemic caused borders to close, Contiki adapted our Canadian product to reflect the desire of our travelers who wished to see our amazing country. Contiki introduced experiences such as exploring the mountains of Whistler on the Vallea Lumina light show, a locally-guided tour of Quebec City, or sampling a pint of Alexander Keith’s in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Contiki is looking into adding new USA trips to complement our existing itineraries which will resume operating when conditions improve.
Q: How have your tours and offerings changed in response to the pandemic?
As we started to see that international travel was not going to be easy or as readily available in 2020 as anticipated, we took the opportunity to create exciting and experiential trips in our own backyard. With travelers not able to venture abroad, the desire to travel did not disappear. Contiki created four incredible local adventures spanning from coast to coast. With these trips, guests can hit the slopes this winter on our Ski Banff or Ski Whistler trip which have been selling very well since we launched early August. If mountain activities and relaxing at the spa are not at the top of your bucket list, we also we have two immersive trips in Ontario and Quebec as well as Atlantic Canada. Guests can skate on the Rideau Canal, kayak on the Bay of Fundy, or enjoy the delicious cuisine of Eastern Canada – lobster, say no more.
Contiki is offering over 350+ itineraries across six continents. We have added more exceptional experiences in destination, and we’ve hand-picked unique accommodations to make each night’s stay even more memorable. We have a trip for every traveler, and we are looking forward to getting on the road and welcoming travelers back once again.
Q: What types of safety protocols has Contiki put in place to protect travelers?
Contiki has introduced Well-being Protocols which were established in collaboration with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and various government agencies. While guests travel with us, they can be sure we are taking every step to ensure the well-being of all our team and travelers on each trip.
Here are the ways we make booking a trip easy, secure and flexible with peace of mind guaranteed:
Q: BONUS: If you could recommend just one Contiki tour, which would it be?
It’s hard to narrow down our top choices, but we have a few recommendations we personally love (and our travelers do, too):
In Canada, we recommend our Ski Whistler trip. Travelers stay in the heart of the Whistler Village, where all the action is, at the Pangea Pod Hotel. Guests are only steps away from the ski lifts as well as shopping, snowshoeing, hiking and spas. This trip gives travelers the freedom to do what they wish on their vacation, high up in the mountains with stunning vistas. Ski Whistler starts at $455.00!
For Europe, we recommend Greece. This iconic destination is still a hot destination for Contiki travelers, and our Greek Island Hopping is always one of our top selling trips. Taking in the three iconic islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Ios, travelers get to experience crystal blue water, delicious food, and world-famous beaches while using Athens as their gateway.
Finally, we recommend our new 2021 “Detour” trip series. We know travelers are becoming increasingly time starved when it comes to vacations, and they may not have time for a one, two, or three-week adventure. Our “Detour” series offers a variety of options where guests can experience a mini Contiki trip as part of a themed adventure. They can go truffle hunting in Italy, on a photo safari in Botswana, or on a wellness retreat in Sri Lanka. These shorter trips are great options which you can be booked as a stand-alone trip or as an add-on to one of our longer trips. These incredible new trips launch mid-October 2020.