Industry Q&A: Brigitte Armand of Eurobound

Industry Q&A: Brigitte Armand of Eurobound

How Eurobound is responding to rising trends in European luxury travel By: Lindsay Kamikawa
<p>Brigitte Armand, president and co-owner of Eurobound // © 2017 Eurobound</p><p>Feature image (above): The U.S.-based company customizes itineraries...

Brigitte Armand, president and co-owner of Eurobound // © 2017 Eurobound

Feature image (above): The U.S.-based company customizes itineraries to the taste of the budget and client. // © 2017 iStock

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The Details

Working exclusively with travel agents, Eurobound specializes in providing highly personalized itineraries in Europe, both for individual travelers and small groups. With each vacation tailored to the desires of the client — whether it’s a kid-friendly tour of the Vatican Museums or a private tour of Versailles — the possibilities are endless.

Agents may also appreciate Eurobound’s one-stop-shop design that features one centralized contract and one commission to track, paid up-front with travel documents. Experienced group specialists can also assist in everything from scheduled air or private air charters to hotel accommodations, ground transportation, meals, escorts and local guides.

We spoke with company president and co-owner Brigitte Armand to learn more about trends in the market, demands from millennial and intergenerational travelers and how agents can benefit from working with the 20-year-old company.

What rising trends are sweeping the luxury European travel market?
I’ve noticed that millennials are going back to working with travel agents. There’s so much information on the internet, and though millennials are very internet-savvy, they’re coming back because they need the expertise from the people who know what is legitimate and where the good guides and local hotels are. 

Art and culture remain driving forces for European travel, but in combination with food and wine. People go to Europe because it’s a continent that is so different from the United States. They want that culture and history, which is lacking in the U.S., and food and wine are part of that. I don’t think one excludes the other. 

How does Eurobound plan to accommodate these trends?
Our Epicurean Collection is for those looking for the local feel; they want culture, as well as a mix of wine and food. We offer wine-tasting tours, as well. For example, in France, there is a big interest in the different regions, including Provence, Burgundy and Bordeaux. We have local guides in each region. It’s not like in the U.S.; in France, you have to have an introduction and an appointment. It’s a pretty closed circuit. We plan to expand the collection of customized packages to France, Italy and Spain in 2017.

And how are you helping agents who might be working with millennials?
We will also be using Axus, a mobile app that allows us to build our itineraries and proposals very efficiently, as well as make changes and remain flexible for the travel agent and client. The clients can download the app on their phones, allowing them to have their complete itinerary at their fingertips. For example, if they’re up on the Eiffel Tower and they want to know what time they’re being picked up at the hotel, they can view this on their phone, along with the contact information of their driver. If clients want to change something, it can be changed then and there.

What options does Eurobound offer for millennial and intergenerational travelers?
Every itinerary is tailored to the taste and budget of the client. For intergenerational travelers, we will pick activities that will occupy children. You can do the same tour and gear it toward the kids. Of course, we all know that when the kids are happy, the adults are happy.

We have a Vatican tour, for example, that will focus on children, but adults can, of course, still benefit. Millennials are interested in more engaging and active vacations, whether it’s canyoning, biking or driving a Ferrari. I’m certainly not a millennial, but I also like to be active on my vacations; I don’t want to be a spectator, I want to be a participant. Some of these more active itineraries include the recently introduced Lapland and Scandinavia vacation and the Yoga in Provence package.

What sets Eurobound’s approach to travel apart from other luxury tour operators?
Because of our contacts, we’re able to get access to exclusive places. We had clients in the summer, for example, who wanted to see the Louvre alone. We planned a champagne cocktail under the Louvre Pyramid, and they had it to themselves for three hours. We were able to help the same clients privatize Versailles. We arranged for them to take a horse-drawn carriage, complete with champagne, through the town of Versailles, followed by a private tour of the chateau after it was closed. 

I’m very hands-on, and I’m always accessible to my clients. We also have two people on the ground in Europe, and they are constantly finding these small, exceptional experiences for us to share with our clients.

How does Eurobound ensure a consistent product?
We can’t be everything to everybody. We do not book two- or three-star hotels, or Boy Scout or big coach tours. We work with more affluent travelers; we pick hotels that represent the essence of the local culture; and we pick guides who reflect what clients are looking for. I would never book a guide through the internet because you don’t know what you’re getting. We work with people we’ve known for a long time, and that’s crucial. 

Why should travel agents work with Eurobound, a U.S.-based company, when servicing their Europe-geared clients?
All of our funds are here, and that’s a big advantage to clients. It’s a nice guarantee. Because we’re local, we’re always on the same time zone as opposed to dealing with a nine-hour difference. 

What role do agents play in the customization processes?
It depends on the agent and how familiar they are with the destination. Some specialize in Europe, so they’ll come to us and participate in suggesting hotels, and we’re happy to work with them that way. Those who don’t specialize in Europe come to us for recommendations on the little gems — that’s where we excel. 

Can you speak about Eurobound’s outlook for travel to Europe in 2017?
I’m cautiously optimistic. I think no matter what happens, Americans love Europe because it’s a place where many Americans have roots and because you can go back so many times. Of course, current events affect everybody, and it’s the reality of the world we live in. People are realizing there is no one place that’s completely safe from everything, but they still love Europe and want to experience it and take their children there. 

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