US-based river cruise specialist Tauck is opening a dedicated UK website and brochures priced in sterling as part of its first major overseas expansion.

The company recently hired a field sales force to serve the UK trade and opened a new reservations centre in London.

Leading Tauck’s new three-person sales team as UK and Ireland country manager Ray Steward, previously sales and marketing director for The Cruise Portfolio.

Stewart will also manage the company’s accounts in the southeast of England.

Emma Taylor joins from The Cruise Portfolio as sales manager, overseeing accounts in Northern Ireland, Ireland, southwest England and south Wales.

A second sales manager, Kathryn Coles, previously with Club Med, will manage Tauck’s accounts in central and northern England as well as north Wales and Scotland.

Tauck staff are currently in the UK manning the new call centre, while the new UK reservations sales employees are trained at Tauck’s US headquarters.

The company will also be hosting 75 UK agents on board its new riverboat Savor on November 1-5, when they attend an educational Tauck Academy seminar.

By successfully completing the academy curriculum, attendees become Tauck Certified agents who qualify for special benefits and other exclusive opportunities provided by the company.

Tauck Academy includes nine hours of intensive classroom training followed by a comprehensive exam. Topics covered include Tauck’s history, details of the company’s extensive product line, and what separates Tauck’s tours and cruises from those of its competitors.

Vice-president global sales Steve Spivak said the expansion in the UK was about providing service commensurate with the quality of Tauck’s journeys.

“We currently bring travellers to more than 70 countries, so operationally we’re already a global company, and last year we actually hosted travellers from more than 80 different countries on our tours and cruises,” he said.

“However, in order to provide the best possible service to UK-based travellers and travel agents, we knew we had to have more of a presence here.

“We’ve clearly made that commitment, and we’re looking forward to better serving our guests and travel agents in the UK market.”