Q&A With Central Holidays CEO Gianni Miradoli on Outdoor Journeys’ Expansion

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Outdoor Journeys' active tours includes a walking tour in Italy's Apuan Alps.
Outdoor Journeys’ active tours includes a walking tour in Italy’s Apuan Alps.

For Outdoor Journeys, Central Holidays’ active vacations brand, authenticity is one of many key components necessary to providing the type of active travel experience guests will want to write home about and experience again…and again. In expanding its collection of biking, hiking, trekking, and ski travel programs throughout Europe, Outdoors Journeys continues to diversify its robust selection of active outdoor vacations with new programs in Tuscany (cycling), Sardinia (trekking), and Austria (skiing) and plans to add more destinations beyond Europe. Couple this with the continued in-country support of knowledgeable tour directors and fitness experts, and active travelers are sure to achieve those “unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime moments” Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays, believes they are after. In an interview with Recommend, Miradoli expounded upon the ways Outdoors Journeys’ new programs aim to capture the millions of outdoor enthusiasts feeding the ever-expanding billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry.

Melissa Bryant (MB): Why do you believe experiential and adventure travel is so popular? 

Gianni Miradoli (GM): We are seeing that today’s travelers are looking to authentically experience each destination they visit and these kinds of travel programs give them the opportunity to become immersed in the places they visit in unique ways with unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime moments they will share and cherish for a lifetime.

MB: What types of experiences/sightseeing opportunities are included with Outdoor Journeys’ programs?

GM: Walking, hiking, skiing or cycling in the footpaths of Europe’s ancestors. Travelers on these programs revel in wonderful cities of art; immerse themselves in the most spectacular corners of nature; and enjoy a unique combination of history, sightseeing and fitness at every turn on these new programs. These experiences also take travelers to explore the vast culinary pleasures of each place visited; featuring local products, wines and regional dishes to enjoy. Focused on delicacies that are an excellent source of energy for active travelers, they will become well acquainted with the “Mediterranean Diet,” adopted by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Mediterranean, people that celebrates not only locally grown food, but also sharing the mealtime experience with family and friends. On these active vacations, travelers will also often have the opportunity to learn good, healthy and easy-to-prepare healthy recipes that they can share with friends and family upon return home.

MB: Tell me a little bit about some of the new programs agents will find in Outdoor Journeys’ new brochure.  

GM: Our cycling programs, in particular, have been very popular since we introduced the Outdoor Journeys brand a year ago, so we have added several new cycling programs throughout Italy. Ideal for all fitness levels from beginners to accomplished athletes, each program is geared to the needs of the traveler, both groups and individuals. Each cycling program is led by certified fitness professionals and can be tailored to the traveler’s physical fitness level—employing bicycles, mountain bikes for more challenging terrain, as well as electronic bikes that feature a small motor that can be utilized if the traveler gets tired—while still enabling them to participate in these outdoor activities they are longing for. Likewise, we have added new trekking programs and ski opportunities that take travelers to different trails and runs every day while offering various challenge levels for varied ranges of fitness and skill.

MB: What types of activities are you categorizing as soft adventure/active vacations?

GM: We define soft adventure/active vacations as travel experiences that showcase outdoor activities as part of a comprehensive travel program in exciting destinations across the globe. Featuring biking, hiking, trekking, and ski travel programs set within scenic settings, the travel programs presented by Outdoor Journeys are noted for their diverse activities, destination immersion, and authentic experiences, as well as the in-country destination expertise and support dedicated to delivering the ultimate trips for active travelers. We will be further expanding these high-demand travel opportunities to more destinations throughout Europe and beyond. In fact, we recently announced an expansion of the Central Holidays product range to countries throughout Latin America and will certainly be introducing new Outdoor Journeys programs in this region that boasts such diverse natural outdoor offerings, including rainforests, volcanoes, beaches, rivers, mountains, and so much more just waiting for travelers to explore!

Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays.
Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays.

MB: Which of Outdoor Journeys’ four categories of programming do North American travel agents book most? Why do you believe that is?

GM: Historically, North American agents have booked more of the ski vacations simply because these other kinds of cycling and trekking programs were not available. In creating this entire range of products, we are providing a way for travelers to delve deeper into each destination, becoming part of the fabric that makes up each region via its culture, cuisine, customs, iconic sights, and nature-scapes. On these programs, they are able to get more up-close and personal in each city, village, and town and live the authenticity of the destination.

We have taken the essence of outdoor adventuring and re-composed it with all the elements to make these programs truly unparalleled destination experiences! We have even introduced an entire range of new ski programs that showcase the Alps in all new ways with skiing, snowboarding, cross-country, trekking and snowshoe adventures as part of our new Outdoor Activities brochure.

MB: Do you see many families booking multi-generational trips? 

GM: Multigenerational travel has been a growing trend for many years that assuredly continues. Millions of families vacation each year in this manner, traveling together with family members from three or more generations. Many grandparents are living active lifestyles as healthy living and wellness also continue trending. As well, Boomers tend to have the disposable income to enjoy travel multiple times a year, thus more and more are vacationing at least once a year on a multi-gen trip…whether to share the world, share a milestone life experience, for a family reunion, or simply to enjoy time with their adult children and grandchildren. This is certainly another reason that experiential and immersive vacations are so popular. They tend to offer activities and opportunities that appeal to various generations and keep everyone engaged and entertained throughout their travels.

MB: Are there any agent incentives that out readers should know about?

GM: As a travel company that has been in business for more than 43 years, we understand the importance of travel agents and group travel planners and are committed to them as our partners. We offer a great deal of sales support as well as incentives, perks and special offers for travel planning professionals who register online at centralholidays.com to become preferred travel agents of the Central Holidays family of travel brands. Additionally, our specialized destination knowledge and decades of experience serve as additional support for agents, acting as an extended part of an agent’s team. As well, it gives them peace of mind that our international staff will support their travelers every step of the way, from the planning phase, throughout their travels, and after they return home to start planning their next vacation. We are proud to have destination experts that are a valuable resource for our travel agent partners.

For more information, call (866) 840-5920 or visit outdoorjourneys.net.