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  • All Aboard: Train Travel Is Trending
    Published May 03, 2024 Jenna Buege

    5/22/2024 4:19:05 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Courtesy of Railbookers Group

    According to Railbookers Group (RBG), the home of Amtrak Vacations, Railbookers and Yankee Holidays, luxury rail bookings are up more than 46% since April 2023. The numbers don’t lie, train travel is hot, and the industry is pivoting to meet the unprecedented demand. For RBG that meant expanding its hours and hiring more staff, something the company set out to do in March 2024 to support its mission to serve clients seven days a week from its locations around the globe.

    Another trend reported by the brand is the increased demand for last-minute travel, which was particularly evident this spring when travelers flocked to beloved destinations like Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Alaska as well as historic European cities like Berlin, Prague and Vienna. Regarding the niche’s recent spike in popularity, RBG noted in an April 2024 press release that rail vacations highlight a destination’s natural beauty while allowing passengers to fully relax and indulge in cozy accommodations often paired with gourmet food and drink.

    “We are so busy, we can barely answer our phones,” said Eleanor Hardy, president of The Society of International Railway Travelers. Hardy works alongside her husband, Owen Hardy, the founder of The Society of International Railway Travelers, and the pair have been in business together as specialty rail advisors for 41 years. “Guests want to travel everywhere,” she said, agreeing with RBG that Europe is always a sought-after destination, especially in the winter with New Year’s celebrations and Christmas markets at the top of vacationers’ bucket lists. She also noted countries like Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as strong contenders.

    Since the pandemic, Hardy has noticed travelers are gravitating toward grander, more lavish experiences, saying: “Our guests post-COVID love all-inclusive packages, custom-designed by our team, these include the luxury train plus the ‘icing on the cake,’ which are VIP airport assistance, private transfers, five-star hotels, special experiences such as individual cooking classes in a great home cook’s home in Mumbai or a special private visit to the Prado.”

    When asked which resources she recommended for travel advisors looking to learn more about the niche, Hardy stressed the importance of collaborating with a luxury train specialist. “It can save you so much time, grief and hassle,” she said. For example, when working with The Society of International Railway Travelers, advisors hop on a quick conference call with their client and the team to address any questions and concerns before determining if a rail vacation is the right fit. “Let’s figure out together if this is right for your guests,” said Hardy. If they do decide to take the plunge, The Society of International Railway Travelers pays advisors a commission in U.S. dollars promptly after travel.

    Similarly, RBG has a variety of resources and itineraries for advisors to familiarize themselves with. “Railbookers offers customers and travel agents the unique opportunity to easily include luxury rail as part of a larger vacation,” said Jim Marini, senior vice president of strategic partnerships for Railbookers Group. “In response, we keep adding more products that features these unforgettable train journeys, including our extremely popular Around the World by Luxury Train itinerary. We’re proud to be the preferred solution for so many travel advisors and customers, making their bucket-list rail vacations become a reality.”

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