Ninety-nine years have passed since Collette’s very first tour took a group of travellers on a three-week holiday from Boston to Florida – each paid US$61.50 for the experience!
Collette, while relatively unknown here in Australia, is a major global travel company now with an office in Sydney and has been family owned throughout its long history. At the helm is Dan Sullivan, whose family owns and manages the business – with Dan personally involved for almost 40 years – living and breathing travel all his working life.
We discussed some of the evolution of travel and touring over the years. Of course there have been huge changes to the travel industry and touring in particular.
Dan explains, “the travel experience is vastly different now… travellers look for more immersive experiences with the culture of the destination they are visiting. Whether it’s in US national parks, Europe or China, people want to meet the locals, and get an authentic taste of what it’s like to live in that region.”
Among the ways Collette reflects this change in guest expectation is through ‘Choice on tour’ – which, as the name implies, provides options for individuals to tailor their time on tour, making for a far more personalised journey. Some of the choices are exceptional – on Canada’s Winter Wonderland, guests choose a snow-shoe trip or a guided Ice Canyon walk; on the Romantic and Fairy Tale Road in Rothenburg, guests choose between making snowball pastries or visiting the Medieval Crime & Justice Museum; New England options include a whale watching tour or trip through the Dunes.
An aspect that hasn’t changed is the learning and social interaction that touring provides:
“Even if people like exploring on their own, if you’re going around on your own through the National Parks or the Canadian Rockies and you want to know what a particular geological formation is, or what that mountain is, you have to stop and look it up. Unless you’re really an expert on that topic yourself, having someone who is with you means so much more.”
“No getting around it, on tours you learn more. It’s a great learning experience,” said Dan, “and you go to places you wouldn’t even know how to find on your own.”
An area that has been embraced by the Sullivan family, and embedded into the culture of their travel business is responsibleattitudes to tourism and the potential to make the world a better place. This is delivered through the Collette Foundation, which at the end of last year created an initiative to deliver 100,000 meals to those in need. Among many accolades for philanthropy, Dan (along with his late father, Daniel Sullivan Sr) was inducted into the Tourism Cares Hall of Fame for his contributions to the community, through philanthropic endeavors and significant contributions to the advancement of responsible tourism.
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DAN’S TOP PICKS FOR AUSTRALIANS FROM THE COLLETTE PROGRAM OF OVER 150 TOURS
AMERICA’S MUSIC CITIES
Reserved seats at the famed Grand Ole Opry and a tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland are included in this tour to New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville.
Prices start from $3329* for an 8-day tour.
ROMANTIC ROAD & FAIRY TALE ROAD
Classic fairytales are brought to life; Rapunzel’s castle and the Brother’s Grimm museum, interwoven with quintessential German countryside, delicious marzipan and beer tasting.
Prices start from $3679* for an 11-day tour.
BEST OF EASTERN CANADA
Celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017 and Montreal its 375th will create a superb air of festivity. Highlights include Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls.
Prices start from $2779* for an 8-day tour.
AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS & DENVER
This has overnight stays in both Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon so guests really get to appreciate the magnificence of these scenic wonders.
Prices start from $5469* for a 14-day tour.
ICELAND’S MAGICAL NORTHERN LIGHTS
A destination that has really taken off in recent years with so many travellers adding the Aurora Borealis to their must-see list.
Prices start from $2559* for a 7-day tour.
SPOTLIGHT ON TUSCANY
Stay in Montecatini Terme and visit Florence, Lucca, Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano – regional wines included with dinners are just the tonic after a day exploring this famed region.
Prices start from $2229* for an 8-day tour.
*Valid for travel dates vary, ask your consultant for details.