|FIVE MINUTES WITH MICHAEL GESKE, EXCLUSIVE TOURS|
|Exclusive Tours' vice president, managing director, discusses the company’s 15th anniversary, its new product offerings and changes in the cruise market|
Exclusive Tours is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2012. TRAVELHotNews.com spoke with Michael Geske, vice president, managing director, to find out what the small ship cruise company plans to do to mark the occasion, and what it can offer to travel agents, who represent 96 per cent of the company’s business.
|Michael Geske, vice president, managing director, Exclusive Tours
TRAVELHotNews.com: This year mark’s Exclusive Tours 15th anniversary, is the company doing anything special to celebrate?
Michael Geske: This year we are looking at coming out with interesting re-launches of some [past] products and a couple of brand new products.
Our river cruise product is still top in the industry today. We represent AmaWaterways, and what is new with them, in addition to Mekong, is river cruising in Africa, as well as some exciting themes, [such as] the wine river cruises. They’ve also deployed new builds on the Seine river in France and also on the Douro river.
Our Luftner cruising, also known as Amadeus Waterways, is now all priced in Canadian dollars. What’s unique about this is, and I think sometimes agents forget about this, if you have a river cruiser who wants to explore a little more at their own pace, tour excursions aren’t included with this product. Even when you add them in the whole product is much less expensive in Canadian dollars than a lot of the mainstream products. It’s also great for people that want to do groups because they can package in excursions that nobody else can offer.
THN: Are you working with any new cruise lines?
MG: Yes, in fact, brand new for us this year is a company we’ve been working with called Travel Dynamics. They’ve got two ships: the Yorktown, which was a previous Cruise West Yorktown Clipper, is operating some cruises in the Great Lakes this summer; ... the other is the Corinthian, which is one of the original renaissance ships. She does, traditionally, the Mediterranean in the spring, summer and fall. [Also] new for 2013, she has got a cruise that is taking her all the way down all the West Coast of Africa.
THN: Exclusive Tours calls itself “the experts in small ship cruising.” What does that entail?
MG: What we try do is find the best in class small ship cruising to either satisfy a diverse set of travellers’ needs and/or destinations. We try to break that down into four categories: river and inland waterway cruising; expedition cruising; worldwide cultural and learning; and yachting and luxury.
THN: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed through Exclusive Tours' 15 years of operation?
MG: Throughout the years we have obviously seen small ship cruising grow by huge leaps and bounds. Fifteen years ago we were the only company in Canada specializing in small ship cruising. Back then we were probably the only ones representing river cruises... We have not only kept our finger on the trend of the best river cruise companies that are out there, or at least some of the most competitive, we’ve also tried to expand with some of the newest products.
We have been doing this for 15 years and, I think, are really considered the Canadian experts in finding the right products for people looking for that small ship experience.