Amtrak Vacations’ rail packages typically include CityPass tickets for city stops. // © 2014 Amtrak Vacations
Yankee Leisure Group (YLG), parent company of Amtrak Vacations, Yankee Holidays and Unique Journeys, is reaching out to travel agents in the West.
According to Frank Marini, president of YLG, California is the company’s second highest-volume tourism market.
In response to the importance of this market, YLG, which is headquartered in Beverly, Mass., recently opened a West Coast office. Located in Laguna Hills, Calif., the second office allows the company to expand its hours of service to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Travel agents should be on the lookout for more direct visits from Amtrak Vacations, including one-on-one meetings at Global Travel Marketplace West, an elite travel agent event hosted by TravelAge West and Travel Weekly.
The timing for agents is good — Amtrak Vacations experienced record-setting growth last year, and YLG expects domestic production to continue to improve.
“Amtrak Vacations is a sleeping giant,” said Marini. “Rail travel is the new river cruising — it is novel, different and unique.”
And if Marini’s recent Amtrak Vacations trip with his family is any indication, there are at least eight more reasons for travel agents to consider booking a rail trip for their clients.
Traveling by Rail is a Bucket List Item
Though a necessary and common mode of long-haul transportation in the past, travel by train is now viewed as a bucket list experience, Marini said. Though there are some “trainophiles,” the appeal of rail travel is broader than that.
On a recent Amtrak Vacations trip from Chicago to Seattle via Glacier National Park, Marini met many of his company’s clients. They were well-traveled, active and eager to do something new.
Amtrak Vacations offers travel agents an opportunity to make large commissions on rail trips, as these packages are not affected by Amtrak’s recent announcement that it will no longer pay base commissions to travel agents, except to members of AAA and Vacation.com.
Variety of Packages
Amtrak Vacations’ portfolio features independent rail journeys, escorted rail journeys, family adventures and even some options that include sailings with Celebrity Cruises. Included in the packages are some meals, hotels, access to attractions and tour passes. Clients can choose between medium and deluxe properties.
Exploring the U.S.
According to Marini, seeing more of America is a common desire for Amtrak Vacations’ clients. By rail, passengers are not only able to leisurely enjoy the sights as they travel — they also see parts of America they would never experience otherwise.
“The main motivation is the destination,” said Marini. “Then having the opportunity to travel by train to that destination, where an agent’s customers can see parts of the U.S. they have never seen before — and most people will never see — makes the trip even better.”
The most popular route Amtrak Vacations offers is the itinerary Marini took his family on — the Glacier National Park Discovery, an 11-day, 10-night journey from Chicago to Seattle which stops at East Glacier Park. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, New York City, Niagara Falls and Chicago also continue to realize record-setting growth each year.
Rail travel is more comfortable than air travel, providing even the lowest-cost passenger a proper bed for overnight trips. In general, there is plenty of space to move around onboard.
Some of Marini’s favorite moments onboard included playing board games with his kids and taking to the dining cars for meals.
Families can spend quality time on the trains with their kids, and many of Amtrak’s packages are designed with families in mind. One new trip, the nine-day Atlantic Coast Discovery Rail Journey, travels from New York City to Washington, D.C., to Orlando aboard Amtrak’s Silver Meteor / Silver Star. The trip features tours in both New York City and Washington, D.C., a visit to the historic Kennedy Space Center and two full days in Orlando’s Universal Studios.
New Options for 2014
Amtrak Vacations continues to grow its portfolio, with more than 18 new rail journeys in 2014, including independent and family tours. Many of the new tours feature top destinations such as New York City, New Orleans, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Amtrak has also added a variety of themed programs. The new six-day Blues and Bayou Rail Journey explores New Orleans and Memphis at a leisurely pace. Highlights include a visit to Graceland and brunch at The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans. Three-night hotel accommodations in both cities are also included in the package.