Dear Tauck Family of Friends,
We’ve come so far together. Our shared passion for travel burned brightly across more than 60 countries around the world. And in important ways, Tauck’s spirit also glowed around our Wilton CT campus. We held our first fall company meeting since 2019. It was energizing to bring hundreds of our team members together with the Tauck family and our Board of Directors. Joy and pride were evident as we took a pause to recognize and give thanks to where we are now. We expressed gratitude for the individual and collective commitment to something greater than ourselves; and that our team and thousands of partners around the world, created a path forward. We also expressed gratitude for the resilience and deep sense of connection we have with you, our valued patrons. Your intrepid desire to resume your freedoms inspired us all. No global tour or cruise company operated as widely in 2021 and 2022, and we owe this to your trust in Tauck. Thank you.
This is my last Porchlight column. I’m not going anywhere, so let me explain. On March 20, 2020, just four days after closing our offices, we shared the symbol of a “Porchlight” to our team, patrons and partners. At that time, I was thinking of ways to symbolize Tauck being there during the health crisis, as the world was in a very anxious place. My wife Kiki thought of the “Porchlight” metaphor – a beacon that welcomes people home; perhaps students back from college, or friends and family when they visit. I shared in messages since then that our porchlight at our Wilton Woods campus was shining brightly and would always remain on for when we could welcome our team back to our campus and for when our patrons told us they were ready to travel again. A colleague surprised us all when he built a porchlight and door for our annual meeting this fall (shown in photo above – note the street number). Our world is in a vastly different place today. We have made it together to “the other side,” and this metaphor is no longer needed.
And what a journey it’s been. In March 2020, Tauck suspended its operations globally for the first time since May 1942 during WWII. We remained completely shut down for all of 2020 and, except a few programs, for the first third of 2021. Yet everyone at Tauck was incredibly busy supporting our guests in our call center, rebuilding our tours and cruises and finding new ways to connect digitally with our guests. All with zero revenue. By summer 2021, it began to brighten and we operated in 36 countries. 2022 was anything but ordinary, as countries opened up and confidence strengthened. We touched down in 61 countries on all 7 continents. Everything was not perfect at times, but conditions improved over the year and overall guest satisfaction was in line with 2019.
After 32 months, we have time for reflection. The Tauck family is more committed and optimistic about the future than ever. I am most proud that our “way” of doing things has not changed where it matters most. Companies that last for generations, like Tauck, have a spirit that guides them. This spirit is born from values and beliefs. I can see this when our team and family gather, and can feel it when I hear from our patrons and TDs from trips around the world. Tauck’s belief system is as strong as ever as we near 100 years young. We are also grateful that our conservative financial philosophy over the decades has enabled us to remain “debt free” today. “Tauck can be Tauck” with no financial commitments to banks or outside entities, allowing us to keep our focus on our business priorities. I’m proud of the team for keeping major technology projects moving forward during this time. Another result of a major disruption is that you see ways to innovate and to think more creatively. Some of these new ideas still make sense on the “other side.” One example, more than one million “connections” occurred via online lectures, stories, webinars, gatherings and more. They did not replace the “real thing,” but served to engage the senses and remind us of the things we treasure.
And we move forward even further in 2023. Tauck will re-open several key “exotic” regions including Japan, additional safaris in Africa and several new itineraries across Europe. On the water, Tauck will operate four additional small ship itineraries and we will double our Seine river cruise departures. We also saw a surge in demand for smaller group departures and have added more of them globally. Our honest, transparent pricing has always been valued and it brings even more peace of mind today. Tauck does not change prices daily or weekly. We do not use gimmicks or promotions. With prices for many goods and services increasing, Tauck prices are set and will not change through 2023. We also recognize that 2023 journeys are filling up fast. So, if a particular journey, a date, or a particular cabin type on our cruises, is important to you, it is best to confirm your reservation soon. We also are taking reservations for 2024.
Suffice it to say, our 95th anniversary in 2020 wasn’t quite the year we had planned for. But we’re inching close to our 100th anniversary and we are excited about the opportunities ahead. It’s important we are always open to seeing the good and beauty in our world. It’s not easy at times, but it is there. We value more than ever life’s “little things,” our freedoms and most importantly, our relationships. Travel has always brought our world together. We meet people from many places and improve our mutual understanding of different cultures and ways of life. In the end, we’re all human and the smiles, conversations and deeper appreciations are central to what makes our journeys so meaningful and memorable.
We made a promise in the Spring of 2020 that we would be here for when you were ready, just as we’ve always been. Our commitment to serve you is as strong as ever. As we chart our course to “Tauck beyond 100,” we do so with a desire stronger than ever to make your travel dreams come true. And our porchlight burns brighter than ever.
On behalf of the entire Tauck family and the team at Tauck, we wish you and your family a joyous holiday season.
Daniel W. Mahar, CEO
P.S. The people you’ll meet and the connections you’ll make are such an important part of traveling with Tauck; we’re so pleased to share a look back and a view of what’s ahead in Connections 2023. Read it here