Ya’lla Tours USA offers dahabiya cruises on the Nile. // © 2010 Ya’lla Tours USA
Read more about Ya’lla Tours USA’s 10-day Heavenly Egypt tour
, which includes a cruise on a dahabiya.
Agents and wholesalers know not to depend on any lasting trends, but they can rest assured that changes in the market will never fail to offer exciting new challenges and opportunities. In recent years, Egypt has become more and more popular with a younger group of travelers, a demographic for whom an authentic cultural experience trumps an expensive hotel stay any day.
“Things are changing,” Ronen Paldi, president of Ya’lla Tours USA told TravelAge West. “We are receiving clients in their 30s and 40s who want more than just a visit. Traveling to Egypt has become an emotional experience for them, not a rational one. We are seeing more and more last-minute bookings — primarily because we offer new kinds of customized, private tours which attract enthusiastic customers. In terms of mass-transport travel, this is a huge move away from hectic Monday departures.”
Wholesalers such as Ya’lla are quick to adjust to this new market by creating itineraries with a range of experiences and activities. Agents can book anything from a safari in the Western Desert to shore excursions in the urban center of Alexandria and the Red Sea.
According to Paldi, trips on a dahabiya, a small sailing boat much like those used by pharaohs of ancient Egypt, are also growing in popularity. Rather than large, motorized Nile cruises, Paldi sees clients trending toward slower, more intimate experiences on the water that allow them to soak in the surrounding scenery and local culture, including small villages along the riverbanks and hidden areas inaccessible to larger vessels. Although adventures onboard the ships are not as luxurious as larger vessels, they provide a rustic experience that appeals to younger travelers.
“The industry is becoming a niche market and professional knowledge is key,” said Paldi. “Egypt is extremely marketable, but it is a complicated area. Marketing to these emerging affinity groups requires agents to specialize their sales plans. The ones who find the most success carefully screen and qualify their client base, making sure they have a clear idea of an individual’s interests before offering them any vacation options. Agents interested in selling trips to Egypt should also familiarize themselves with activities that go beyond the Giza pyramids and the Great Sphinx, activities that can offer clients a more unique and memorable experience.”
Paldi teaches nine-hour seminars held during Ya’lla’s agent fams to Egypt. Topics covered include sales techniques, tourism to Egypt for the upscale American market, Christian travel to Egypt and other specifics on Ya’lla’s many programs.
Ya’lla is also helping agents sell travel to the region through a promotional DVD called, “A Day in the Life of a Pharaoh,” which was released last month. The video informs agents about Alexandria’s catacombs and the Montazah Palace Gardens; the Western Desert; Luxor’s Karnak Temple, the Colossi of Memnon and the Temple of Hatshepsut; the Temple of Horus in Edfu; Nubia; Abu Simbel; and more. Ya’lla will send a free copy to any agent interested, or agents can watch the video for free on the wholesaler’s website.