Highlight the elements of a trip that clients can’t replicate alone to show them the value of an escorted tour, says Joanna Booth
A tour is more than a list of places on an itinerary. People and experiences are key; it’s often these that make for the most memorable moments of a trip. With this in mind, tour operators are increasingly wooing clients with exclusive elements that they wouldn’t be able to access on their own. Here’s how to use these to get the bookings flying in.
It’s who you know
Luxury Gold rebranded this year with an expanded portfolio of Founder’s Collection tours featuring exclusive meet-and-greets curated by the late chairman, Stanley Tollman, via his friendships with well-known people.
They range from time with Habsburg princess Anita von Hohenberg at her castle, on the Harmony of Central Europe itinerary, to musical royalty. Grammy award-winners Charlie McCoy and Brenda Lee appear on the brand’s two Deep South tours.
Home from home
Trafalgar’s hugely popular Be My Guest events – launched a decade ago and now included on every tour – give clients the opportunity to go into the homes of local people and learn more about their everyday lives.
Options range from dining with a family of lemon farmers – and sipping their homemade limoncello – overlooking Mount Etna, to harvesting corn the traditional way in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Working with Indigenous communities to create authentic, immersive and locally guided experiences for travellers is integral to Intrepid Travel’s ethos. Options feature on many tours, from visiting a shaman in Guatemala to eating bush tucker with a First Nations guide in Australia’s Budj Bim National Park.
Supporting local communities
Responsibly minded operators help clients give back to the areas they’re travelling through. G Adventures supports community tourism projects, including the Hagi Homestay Association in rural Japan, where guests stay with farmers, and the Lusumpuko Women’s Club in Zimbabwe, which prepares a farm-to-table meal for travellers and uses the revenue to benefit their township.
Hands-on classes help guests understand local culture, or even head home with a new skill. Explore features locally led classes on most trips, including lantern-making in Vietnam, a coffee masterclass in Jordan and learning to read the stars with the Misminay Quechua community in Peru.
Behind-the-scenes or out-of-hours access is a huge attraction, particularly at busy sites. On Titan Travel’s Captivating Cultures private jet tour, guests visit the Vatican before normal opening hours, allowing them to see the Sistine Chapel without the usual crowds.
They’ll also enjoy a range of special events, including a private concert on Our Lady of the Rocks island in Montenegro’s Kotor Bay, and a cocktail party on board a yacht on the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
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