MEET GOWAY 2.0: Tour operator looks ahead to next 50 years
Despite largely having to largely skip celebrations of a 50th anniversary milestone last year while enduring the “most difficult” period he’s ever seen in the business, Bruce Hodge says he’s determined that Goway will come out of the global health crisis (and subsequent travel downturn) even stronger than it was nearly two years ago.
To that end, Hodge has invoked the words of Winston Churchill in the aftermath of WWII – “Never let a good crisis go to waste” – as an opportunity to reinvent the business he founded a half century ago for the next 50 years.
In particular, the company has spent its pandemic downtime investing heavily in new technologies, including a new phone system, online training program and customized reservation system, all designed to make its destination specialist staff better experts and its varied product line “more attractive and easier to sell.”
Hodge points to the company’s recently introduced ‘Your Next Journey: The Best of Goway Travel’ interactive digital travel brochure as encapsulating the brand’s fresh approach to “doing business in a post-pandemic world.”
He adds, “All areas of our company have been refreshed and revitalized.”
Company VP Craig Canvin says Goway’s pandemic downtime also saw a product revamp, which he says now includes over a thousand “totally reimagined” tours in the system, and now divided into three price tiers: moderate, first class and deluxe – as well as boasting consistency across all divisions, from Australia to Africa, Europe, and South America.
With an added focus on luxury experiences, which includes private guided tours, agents will have a wider range of travel styles to offer clients, he says, but at the same time still having access to Goway’s “tried and true” product.
Other enhancements include private transfers on every tour.
“We’re not just a head in a bed and bum in the seat,” Canvin says, noting that many of the tour upgrades reflect customer demands. “This is what clients have been looking for and the traveller demands – to (travel) on their own terms.”
Agents can also take advantage of Goway’s tech enhancements via a new three-way Zoom feature that allows a company destination specialist to liaise with the agent and their client, which allows the customer to be involved in the planning process.
Of the changes, Canvin says, “We’re calling it Goway 2.0,” and adds, “It sets the stage for growth.”
Accompanying the product changes are some new team members (including the recently announced addition of Rares Dumitru as National Account Manager for Canada), as well as transitional changes to the company’s senior management team, effective Jan. 1, including the promotion of Anthony Saba to VP of Downunder & South Pacific, taking over from Shirley Rourke, who becomes VP of Groups. The latter move reflects the retirement of Barbara Norton next April after 38 years at the company.
Until then, Norton and Rourke will continue to work together to reinvent Goway’s Holidays of a Lifetime program, which will be incorporated into the refreshed Groups Only division.
More changes to the new Goway “50+ management team” are expected in the New Year.
At the same time, Goway, always active south of the border, has announced a partnership with the prominent Signature Travel Network, which boasts 11,000 members, in order to expand its reach in the US.
As for the winter and into 2022, VP Canvin says bookings are booming, especially for exotic destinations, or “idyllic retreats” as Goway calls them, with the top three destinations being The Maldives, Tahiti, and Dubai, with the latter’s Expo 2020 commanding great interest. Similarly doing “extremely well” is Europe, he says.
Another trend amongst clients is staying longer and upgrading amenities, from flights to hotel rooms.
“As soon as a luxury destination opens up,” enthuses Canvin, “it is booked.”
First published at Travel Industry Today