Exoticca makes a splash in the Canadian market

Get to know Exoticca, a tour operator specializing in private and small group tours in destinations like Peru, the Galapagos, Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Thailand, South Africa and Vietnam.

Travel advisors have a lot of choice when it comes to tour operator partners, but Exoticca’s VP of sales Mike Quinto believes their European style of touring sets them apart from the competition.

“The way we do things differently is we don’t believe in going to see every castle ever built in Ireland. We’re going to see all the major highlights, all the major things you want to see, but then we want to give the clients free time,”  Quinto tells Travel Courier. “We’re kind of like a mix of an escorted tour and FIT — if you put those two together, that’s what our philosophy is.”

For example, in a destination like Rome, after breakfast at the hotel, a tour kicks off with a local guide taking the group to major attractions like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps, and the Pantheon. After wards, free time is built into the itinerary so travellers can opt to continue exploring downtown, embark on an optional excursion like learning how to make an authentic pizza or head back to the hotel to unwind.

“It’s really neat because the clients can see the sights, are led around by a local guide, they get out there, they see the major sites, they learn the history, the culture, they have a guide to ask any questions they want, but then in the afternoons, they can do what they want. If they just want to sit at a table and have a pint of beer and people watch, they can do that.”

Barcelona-based Exoticca first expanded into North America in 2018 and was growing in the market when the pandemic hit. The tour operator relaunched its B2B team in Dec. 2021 to positive reception and has only been growing since then.

“Our average group size is about 14 to 16 people on average. The max group size is 25 for our destinations, but there are certain destinations like Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, where our maximum size is eight people,” says. “We want to make sure that we have those small intimate groups where you can really have a lay of the land and see it through the local’s eyes.”

Tours are available across varying levels of accommodations from three to five star hotels. Along with a main guide leading the group, Exoticca also features local city guides and experts in each destination. A small portion of its portfolio is also self-guided tours.

“This year, the biggest influx in sales we’ve seen is South Africa. South Africa is super hot. We’ve an incredible tour down there. 11 days with flights from Toronto doing game drives, seeing penguins, wineries,” he says. “Your usual suspects are coming back up in the European market right now. Italy is super popular. Croatia, we just launched a brand new product in Croatia. It’s becoming really, really popular. Greece is super hot right now. Portugal, there’s so much. It’s a big, big destination for us right now. And then Asia is picking back up. So Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Those areas now are finally starting to come back to market which is great.”

Notably, Quinto points out that there are many perks for travel advisors to work with the tour operator, including commission on all aspects of bookings, including air.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can to help out agents right now. So first things first: we pay top class commissions on everything. We include commission on airfare. We pay anywhere between like 10-16% depending on who you’re with. Also for all agents, all agencies right now, which is amazing, when you make your first booking with Exoticca, on top of your commission, you also get a $200 bonus commission right now for your first booking, which is really cool,” he shares.

And for travel advisors looking to experience the product firsthand, there are multiple FAM trip opportunities available this year. One just wrapped up in the Galapagos and two take off this month to Jordan and Egypt.

“August is to South Africa. September is Vietnam. October is Peru and Portugal is in November and we still have some seats left on the fams which is super exciting,” he notes, adding that agents should follow the Exoticca Pro Travel group on Facebook for all the details. “Each fam is gonna go out with about 20 travel agents, which is a little bit larger than our average group size, but we’ve had such demand, we want the agents to experience it because once they go out there and see what it’s really like, it is the new style of touring. It’s quite amazing.”

Exoticca also recently expanded its team in Canada so agents looking for more information can contact Cindy Chau, director of sales Vancouver ([email protected]); Diana Winters, director of sales – Eastern Canada ([email protected]) and Sharon Wilson, director of sales – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba ([email protected]).

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