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Yankee Leisure Group (YLG) — which is composed of the Amtrak Vacations, Railbookers and Yankee Holidays brands — is heading into the new year with a 37 percent increase in sales over the previous year.
YLG announced two new partnerships — Eurostar Vacations by Railbookers and Trenitalia Vacations by Railbookers — in late 2018. Eurostar’s high-speed train network connects the U.K. to France, Belgium and the Netherlands, while Trenitalia’s far-reaching network provides access from Italy to Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria, creating limitless opportunities throughout Europe.
“We work with a lot of different rail companies, but these partnerships run deeper,” said Frank Marini, president of YLG. “We have access to all of their routes and rates, and as they continue to expand, we’re looking to grow with them.”
Below, Marini shares his thoughts on YLG’s continued success and expansion, in addition to how travel advisors benefit when working with YLG brands.
What sets YLG apart from an escorted tour operator or FIT company?We’re an independent rail company, which means that we have a lot of depth and breadth when it comes to our product. Independent travel is one of the largest segments in the travel industry, but it doesn’t get noticed because all of bits and pieces are broken up.
YLG customizes every itinerary according to the customer’s preferences. If clients have their heart set on a specific attraction or an obscure town, we can make that happen. And rail travel complements other types of travel, too. We find that a lot of our customers like to add a post-river-cruise train ride to complete their vacation.
Our strength really comes down to how we develop our product. We follow the customer. When travel advisors call us, we’ll create an entirely custom package. Soon after, that itinerary will pop up on the site. We’re releasing new products every week, and the cycle moves fast.
What do you love about travel by rail?Whenever I’m having a conversation and I mention what YLG does, a smile comes across my companion’s face. Rail has always been there — and it’s not going anywhere — but it’s different for everyone. There’s point-to-point and cross-country train travel. You can spend a day riding through the Swiss Alps, or you can spend a few weeks touring the Italian countryside. It’s a unique and personalized experience for everyone, and the means of transportation is part of the journey.
Have any recommendations for a stellar train trip? I’m a huge fan of Italy — and not just because I’m Italian. I enjoyed traveling from Italy to Switzerland, coming up through Rome, Florence and Milan, and being immersed in the history and culture.
In Europe, our Paris to Amsterdam itineraries are selling well. In the U.S., national parks continue to be the main draw. Glacier National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park are always popular, but we have diverse itineraries that span multiple parks and state lines. And the great thing about train travel is that you wake up with a view of the Cascade Mountains or Big Sky just outside of your window.
How does YLG support travel advisors and their clients?There is nothing worse than a booking that never goes away, but often when it comes to rail travel, tickets are unavailable during the planning stages of a trip. It can be six weeks or six months before the slot opens up. But we eliminate that waiting period; we allow advisors to book tickets up to 18 months in advance.We offer round-the-clock assistance over the phone (with no longer than a five-second hold time), and we can even three-way call an advisor and his or her client to better explain the desired product. Rail can be a confusing product, especially when working with four different railroads and four different schedules. We have educational webinars on our website, too.
Commissions start at 10 percent.
The DetailsYankee Leisure Group www.ylginc.com