Marcelo Gallo, On-board Expedition Team Leader, Australis
Australis on-board expedition team leader Marcelo was born in Santiago de Chile, but has chosen to live in the Patagonian region. He started working on Australis in 2005 until 2009. After a two-year break, he returned in 2011 to guide and show Patagonia, “the most beautiful place on earth,” to our guests. He traveled to France where he perfected his French. Today he works guiding the on-shore excursions in Spanish, English, and French.
LANGUAGES: French, Spanish and English
Travel Research Online (TRO): First of all, let me say, giving guided tours in three separate languages is impressive. Do you find it difficult to switch between languages so often?
Marcelo Gallo (MG): Normally it’s not that hard, because whenever me or my colleagues do it, we’re only speaking one language at a time. But, sometimes, in the reception area or at the dining room I have to switch very quickly so that everyone can get the info. That can be sometimes a little hard. But when you do it on a daily basis you get some practice.
TRO: I received word that you just got back from the United States; where you, the CEO, and Director of Sales in the US were trying to feel out what travel agents are interested in. Did that go well?
MG: I think it went fantastic. We were on a 3-week trip to try to reach as many agents as possible and talk with agents not only about business, but also exchanging views and perspectives on Patagonia, Chile and the tourism industry in general. I think it’s a great deal for the agencies when you get a visit from a team that can give a full view of our company and the uniqueness of the Australis experience.
TRO: Can you tell us anything about what you learned on your trip? Perhaps how Australis may be improving how they deal with travel agents interests and needs?
MG: Living most of the time immersed in the heart of Patagonia, sometimes we forget that this place is for most part of the world a huge mystery. Sometimes, we take for granted some information that seems obvious to us; but, actually, it is not obvious at all. We are dealing with such a unique, remote, even exotic place; and, it’s good to see it through the eyes of somebody that has never been there before. It helps us to consider all the information that needs to be explained, to allow anybody to truly and completely understand what a special journey we offer. This trip also helped me to understand even more how the US market behaves and the different actors involved in the travel industry. Even though I have been in this area since my first job, I have always been involved in the operations area so I get to know the travel agents on board the ship. It’s a totally different thing to visit them in their work places! Regarding the needs of travel agents, Australis is currently aiming at the right agencies with visits from our local sales representatives. They will provide all the information required to sell this product to the final clients through visits, webinars, and printed and digital material. Also, we have a certified “Australis Specialist” course for the agent that is free and should take no more than 2 hours to complete.
TRO: You are now one of the On-board Expedition Team Leaders, though you used to solely be part of the expedition team. Has this helped you to understand multiple sides of the travel industry?
MG: Indeed. I feel that I have grown, both professionally and personally, along the years after I was promoted to my current position. I have had the opportunity to share experiences aboard our ships with people from different areas of the tourism industry and that has left something in me. I have learned more about customer service and to identify the needs of our guests on board and try to give them the best trip of their lives, which is a goal to us for sure. Of course, we do get a lot of help from the landscape that our routes offer. And it’s important to mention that it’s all a team effort from all the different areas of Australis.
TRO: Patagonia is a popular destination in the travel industry. How does Australis consider their plans for routes and services in that gorgeous area?
MG: After almost 30 years sailing in the area, we know it profoundly, like few others do. This, plus our permanent attention to our guest’s expectations and commentaries regarding the different sites that we have visited along the years, has led us to narrow them to different routes of 4 and/or 8 nights. That way we know our guests will be able to deeply enjoy some corners of Patagonia that only a few have had the privilege to step on. Our routes aim to show a blend of both the historical and natural richness of Patagonia, as well as sailing through emblematic places and all the mystic that this means. We do this with a great respect for nature and the National Parks that we visit, improving progressively along the years our ways to contribute to the ecology of the region.
TRO: What is/was your favorite expedition to lead with Australis?
MG: I do have a crush on Cape Horn! I simply love that place. I believe there you can really feel what is Patagonia, how you probably imagined it before visiting it. The wind on your face, the silence, the remoteness and the weight of history. It all meets in that tiny spot at the end of South America.
Another place that I enjoy every time we go there is Pia Glacier, in the northwestern arm of the Beagle channel. Is simply majestic! And also, a place that offers great sights for our travelers due to the big calvings that you could get to see there.
TRO: As one of the On-board Expedition Team Leader at Australis, what would you like to let new travel agents know about your Patagonian expeditions?
MG: Australis is a unique, all-inclusive product that offers the opportunity to sail and explore one of the most remote areas in the world: the southern Patagonian fjords. We do this through daily excursions that offer different levels of physical demand, in places that are completely unspoiled. These excursions are guided by the on-board Expedition Team in small-sized groups (20 people on average), so that our guests can have the best experience on-site. In either route, you will see penguins, glaciers and visit Cape Horn – which is considered the bottom of the Earth. We are the only company that lands in Cape Horn, a place that is a must if you travel to Patagonia.
TRO: Does Australis have any new offerings, routes, or plans for the near future?
MG: We could say that the future is now. We just added a brand-new vessel to our fleet, the Ventus Australis, which we launched on January 2018. It is exactly the same size and capacity as its sister ship Stella Australis. Also, during the first part of its operation, the Ventus Australis began a new 4-night route from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas (Patagonian Explorer) with 7 excursions including Condor Glacier, an absolutely new place for us. Thus, no matter which vessel you take – the places to visit will be the same.
TRO: Thanks for your time, Marcelo.
MG: Thanks to you and hope to see you soon in Patagonia on board any of the Australis ships!