Pleasant holidays: secondary European cities that attract travelers
If travelers have visited the most popular Europe cities in a given country, such as Rome, Florence and Venice in Italy, they are increasingly looking at other city break options in this same country, such as Milan or Sorrento.
“We have now added 200 hotels to Europe alone since the start of the 2020 pandemic, and we continue to add more, ”says Jack richards, President and CEO, Pleasant vacations, who runs this vacation package brand, a separate luxury brand, Journese, and an international air consolidator, Air by Pleasant, which has a main aerial focus of Europe.
So in Italy, for example, Pleasant vacations and Jourse now offer new holiday stay options not only in Milan and Sorrento, but also Lake Como, Tuscany and Verona, among other tasks.
Thus, customers can relax at the Hotel Indigo Verona – Grand Hotel des Arts, then set off to sample culinary and wine delights as well as Roman ruins, including an incredibly well-preserved arena. Ancient Europe’s off the beaten track sites continue to draw American visitors who have seen Rome Coliseum or Athens‘ Parthenon during a past European trip.
Simply put, ‘secondary’ European cities offer incredible experiences and cultural and heritage sites to explore. Despite this, they are often less known to Americans, who may have visited these big, renowned cities before. But although isolated during the pandemic, consumers have also dug deeper into a country they hope to visit and are discovering options outside the box.
“Even during the pandemic, we spent a lot of time, energy and resources not only building primary markets but also secondary markets,” says Richards. Thus, “in Austria, It’s not only Vienna, But Salzburg too, ”he says.
The Goldener Hirsh Hotel is one of the city break options offered in Salzburg, Austria by Pleasant Holidays.
Pleasant Holidays customers can now choose hotels such as the Goldener Hirsh Hotel, a Luxury Collection hotel; the Holiday Inn Salzburg City; and the Sheraton Grand Salzburg. Personalized arrangements then transform the vacation into an even more personalized getaway.
Any other new secondary options? In addition to offering stays in Barcelona, Spain, “We now offer Valencia, Costa del Sol and CordobaSays Richards. In Germany, “We have extended beyond Munich and Berlin, and now offer Nuremberg, Hamburg and Stuttgart. “
In Stuttgart guests can stay in Le Méridien Stuttgart; while in Hamburg, they can check in at their hotel and venture out independently or on a private tour to explore maritime history at several locations.
By far, however, the greatest number of additions for Pleasant Holidays and Journese have been and still occur in Greece. According to Richards, the company is currently working on setting up an electronic connection for 90 to 100 hotels in the Greek Islands, giving consumers a wide range of new choices with instant pricing and inventory; it’s a little too early for more details.
“Our main destination right now is Greece … up 10% from 2019,” says Richards of overall bookings. Among the other top places, Italy and Spain are OK. Portugal bookings are up 162% from 2019, but this is based on smaller numbers to begin with, a situation that also applies to Pleasant Holidays bookings for Iceland.
Among the main countries for European Pleasant Holidays bookings is the Czech Republic; The Old Town of Prague is pictured above. // Photo by Getty Images / Yasonya
Among other best performances from Pleasant Holidays and Journese, “Hungary is also in the Top 10 “just like Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, “he adds. Having said that,” all of those will be down [compared] to 2019 ”, because it’s what Richards calls“ a banner year ”for Pleasant Holidays.
Certainly the recent European Union decision to open to vaccinated American visitors propels reservations, however. “I can tell you that by the time the announcement was made we definitely saw a corresponding difference not only in interest but also in bookings to Europe,” says Richards.
“It was very dormant as you would expect for a long time, and then once that announcement was made, once the airlines started adding transatlantic flights, we started to see a recovery,” he says, noting that momentum is building. .
That said, tour operators and those offering destination packages are not yet sure what the rules and regulations are or will be for each country in Europe.
“I think we’re making progress, but we’re very early in the game,” Richards admits. But he believes that “it will continue to improve over the next four to six weeks.”
Several airlines are increasing the number of flights to Barcelona. // Photo by Getty Images
Watching transatlantic flights from the we in Spain, United Airlines has just announced its intention to resume service five times a week between Newark Liberty International Airport and Barcelona from July and service six times a week between New York / Newark and Madrid starting in July.
Delta currently serves Madrid daily from John F. Kennedy International Airport and will add a service three times a week from JFK to Barcelona starting June 6 and Atlanta from August 5. American Airlines currently offers daily flights to Barcelona from Miami and Madrid from Dallas Fort Worth, and plans more flights to Madrid from June 17 from the two Miami and JFK from New York.
The Pleasant Holidays portfolio has grown considerably and now includes vacations in 22 European countries, from Slovenia where guests can book a stay at InterContinental Ljubljana, to several towns in Croatia with guests heading to Zagreb maybe for a stay at Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Center.
Another trend for European travel? Richards sees that “people fly nonstop and stay in the city they land in.” So, don’t travel all over several countries the same way in the past. Cost is a factor, as is the ability to distance themselves socially, he reports: “They don’t want to go into crowded airports and keep moving all the time. They want to get there and stay there.
Richards says “this will probably continue throughout 2021”, but “we expect that to change in 2022”.
Who is going to Europe? Pleasant Holidays and Journese mainly cater for couples and multigenerational families.
One of the highest growth areas for 2021 and beyond for Pleasant Holidays and Journese, as well as other tour operators and providers of personalized packages, such as Luxury gold or Abercrombie & Kent, to name a few, it is the increasing demand for personalized private arrangements. It could mean a private city tour, or think outside the box and head to the countryside or a side destination to visit for the day in a more personalized way.
During the pandemic period, “we’ve added a bunch of what we call private tours all over Europe,” Richards said, citing everything from walking tours to food tours. “What we’re finding is that people don’t want to travel in groups of people anymore. They want it to be very limited, very private.”
So, for example, Pleasant Holidays offers “Florence off the beaten track“with a local guide, so guests on a private excursion can” do a wine tasting or stop at his favorite restaurant for an espresso, “Richards said. This is also true for Madrid, Spain.
Another hot trend? Richards reveals that customers are increasingly opting for private transfers, not a shuttle for six or eight people, or a larger group transfer. This includes airport transfers, whether in Dublin, Ireland; Tivat, Montenegro; Brussels, Belgium; or another European destination.
Stay tuned as Trip Agent will examine the trend of private tours with a range of operators in an upcoming story!
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