US customers opting for authentic experiences

Allison Heller is Product Development Specialist at Gate 1 Travel, which is based in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. We started by asking her about the company.

Gate 1 Travel is a family-owned and operated business, founded in 1981. We operate on all seven continents and we cater for mostly an American market. We do have a sales office in Florida, as well as a sales office in Australia. In the US, we send about 300,000 American clients around the world. We have over 26 offices worldwide and 400 employees.


What are the main trends you see in terms of buyer demand?

I work on a lot of independent packages in Central Europe, as well as in Egypt. Gate 1 just got back into Egypt after a 10-year hiatus due to all the con ict in the Middle East. We got back into Egypt about a year ago and it’s one of our best-selling markets currently. Customers want authentic experiences. We have a tour series brand, called Discovery Tours, which tends to offer smaller tours. Our Classic Tours are generally 35-42 passengers per coach, and that includes a tour manager; with our Discovery Tours those have a maximum group size of 22 people. The Gate 1 clientele is typically older Americans that have a little bit more time to travel, who aren’t necessarily restricted by work schedules or holiday time.

Did you take part in the Speed Networking event?

It was a fantastic event, the first time I had done anything like that. I definitely need to bring more business cards next year. I got to meet a lot of different people – scheduling of the event was very easy.

Why did you join the ITB Buyers Circle?

We thought we would try it out. There are some perks that come with it, such as the Speed Networking, which really enticed me. Having the lounge, to come and sit down, has been key. I’ll absolutely be back next year.

Photo: Allison Heller Product Development Specialist, Gate 1 Travel