Celebrations International Travel Blog

Posts Tagged ‘escorted tour

“They don’t care what you do!” my BNI (Business Network International) trainer emphasized repeatedly.  He was referring to the fact that in most cases, your profession emphatically implies what you do.  He wanted to impress upon us the fact that it’s not what you do, but the benefits you can offer people that captures their interest.

With that in mind,  you all know that travel agents help arrange travel. 

Here are some things that you may not know that some travel agents do, including myself and my agency, Celebrations International Travel:

– Meetings/Events at Sea or On Location:  My agency can help you organize a meeting or event on a cruise, or at an all-inclusive resort or a hotel in the city of your choice and take care of the details!

– Group Pricing Without A Group:  Who says you always have to travel with ten of your best friends to qualify for group rates?  At Celebrations International Travel, we’ve reserved space on many popular cruise sailings that allow us to offer the savings of group rates to our clients, whether you’re traveling as a couple or bringing all your friends and family along.  With some notice, similar arrangements can be made at all-inclusive resorts or for escorted tours.

– Fundraising:  That’s right….You can help raise funds for your favorite charity or cause through your travels.  Contact us to find out more.

– Itinerary Planning:  Even if you have a good idea about where and when you want to travel, a good travel agent can provide you with good tips and advice on things to see and do (and the best days/times to do them), the best ways to get around, and good places to eat and shop.  Especially for international destinations with which you aren’t familiar, your agent may be able to give you practical advice on currency exchanges, taxi services, money-saving ideas, and general travelers’ safety.

– Special Occasions & Celebrations:  We believe in Celebrating Life Through Travel!  If you’re celebrating a special occasion on your trip, let your travel agent know so that he/she can do their best to help you celebrate!

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I think there’s a commonly-held misconception that anything “custom” or “customized” must be expensive.  Well, I’m here to dispel that myth, at least where escorted tours are concerned.

In my post entitled “Escorted Tours My Way:  No Whirlwind Bus Rides!” I talked about the fact that with many traditional group tours, the travelers’ experience can typically be described as  “on the bus, off the bus,” without doing much to actually experience the destinations.  “Standard vs. Custom Tours” highlighted the benefits of custom tours.

Delving further into the subject of tours, I want to explain how and why custom tours don’t have to be expensive.

– Custom Travel Dates: Unlike standard tours, which have set departure dates, you get to choose when you want to travel, and how long you want to be away.  Many times, moving your travel dates by even a day or two could make a difference in cost of the airfare, accommodations, and other arrangements.  Plus, if you decide the cost of your dream trip is more than you’re comfortable with, you can always cut down the number of days to save.  That just isn’t possible when booking standard tours with pre-set itineraries and travel dates.

– Spend On What’s Important to You: Not all travelers are alike.  With custom tours, you tell us what you’d rather spend your money on, and what you’d rather save on.  To some travelers, it’s most important to be able to see and do everything on their wishlist, and they’d rather stay in more moderate hotels in order to stay within their budget.  By contrast, other travelers might prefer very luxurious hotel accommodations paired with a more leisurely-paced itinerary with fewer cities or locales planned.  Whatever suits you, Celebrations International Travel can help you plan your custom tour.

Travel How You Want: On standard tours, your transportation between cities and between attractions is pre-set for the group.  However, with a custom tour, in most locales, there are choices in transportation that can save you money.  For instance, if a standard tour itinerary includes a flight between cities that can also be easily reached by train, you might choose the train ride to give you a different perspective and experience, provided you have the time.  Or, you might decide to forego a privately-chauffeured transfer from the airport if you’re familiar with the city’s metro system or prefer to take a taxi.

– See & Do What You Want At Your Own Pace: Standard tours are designed to please a crowd, they tend either offer travelers more of an “overview” visit to their destination and/or include the historical sites and attractions most popularly requested.  What if some things on a standard itinerary don’t interest you, or maybe you’ve done it before?  On a standard tour, you’re stuck with it because it’s included in the price of the tour, so you end up going with the group because the group travels together.  Why not make better use of your time and money?  With a custom tour, you tell us what you want to see and do, and if you need ideas, tell us what types of things interest you, and our destination experts can offer suggestions accordingly.  Not paying for tour inclusions that you don’t want saves you money for the things you do want!  As an added bonus, you can explore at your own pace because of the flexibility that a customized private tour provides.  You’re not being “herded” in mass!

– Choose the Services & Inclusions You Need & Want: In some destinations, you might choose to have a tour guide/translator, driver, and/or other professionals to assist you.  In other cases, you might prefer to explore on your own, or you might opt for a combination of guided and free time.  You may want meals other than breakfast or certain activities or special occasion celebrations included in your tour.  Any and all of that can be customized for you.  On a custom tour, you choose when, where, and what services and inclusions you want, instead of paying for a standard set of inclusions that you might not need.

Contact us for more information on custom tours, and see our Culinary Travel Homepage for delicious and adventuresome sample itineraries to inspire your travels!

If you’ve ever been on a standard (non-custom)  escorted tour like I have, what do you remember?  In my case, what I remember is a bus (motorcoach) full of people, a tour director, and a driver.  (To read more about this, see my earlier post, “Escorted Tours My Way:  No Whirlwind Bus Rides!”.)

What I think is good about standard group tours (where the itinerary is pre-set, and agents book travelers into a group with pre-set travel dates) is that the tour guides are very knowledgeable and experienced, most motorcoaches are comfortable, the driving is left to someone else, you have no worries about language barriers, and you can get to know your fellow travelers.

Admittedly, some travelers may find this “standard overview” approach to touring suits their needs, and  Celebrations International Travel works with a host of tour companies to offer clients who choose this option the best possible choices for any destination they want to visit.

But here’s what I don’t like about standard group tours:

– These tours assume that “one size fits all,” which may not be true for many travelers.

– Pre-Set tours can be restrictive.  Yes, it’s nice that someone else gets to worry about all the arrangements and hassles, but what if you want to spend more time exploring a particular attraction, or if there’s something on the day’s itinerary that you’re just not thrilled about?  What if you simply would rather experience the same attraction in a different way?  What if you want to go out at night, but not by yourselves, and the pre-set tour doesn’t give you escorted options?  No matter how much flexibility or free time is built into a pre-set itinerary, you as the traveler still have to work within the choices and timeframe that the tour gives you.

– Large groups and pre-set tours can make travelers feel like they’re being herded in mass from one place to another.

– You are not in control of your own time, as the group must travel as a whole, and the amount of time spent in each locale is prescribed.

Try telling my teenage self that there was anything OK with this last point when I had a completely unobstructed view of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, but as soon as the guards marched in and turned around, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said “It’s time to go back to the bus.”  My reaction was and is to this day:  I can’t believe I went all the way to London and didn’t even get to see the changing of the guard!

All this is why in my view, custom tours are a much better idea.  You can still experience all the benefits of standard touring:  You can have knowledgeable drivers and English-speaking tour guides, comfortable transportation, and enjoy getting to know people you meet along the way.

What custom touring gives you that standard touring doesn’t is this:

– Flexibility: Travel when, where, and how you want.  There are no pre-set travel dates or itineraries, although we can provide you with sample itineraries and other ideas to consider incorporating into your custom tour.  You see and do what interests you, and you have the flexibility to alter your itinerary on the spot if you’d rather spend more time at a particular locale or skip something else.

– Budget Considerations: With custom tours, you pay for exactly what you want.  You get to approve your custom tour before committing to it, and we work within your reasonable budget constraints.  This is helpful because it allows travelers to spend on what’s important to them, and save on other things if they choose.  Custom tours do not have to be expensive.  I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post.

– Travel with Whomever You Want: You can bring just your spouse, or your family, friends, your bowling team or wine club, or open the tour up to your entire company if you want.  Your customized tour is just for your group, so it’s up to you!

– Theme Tours Your Way: If you have a hobby or interest you’d like to incorporate into your custom tour, let us know!  Whether your passion is food and wine, photography, art and architecture, gardening, or anything else, Celebrations International Travel’s destination experts can design a tour to focus on your interests.  Our Culinary Travel Homepage provides some sample itineraries designed with food and wine connoisseurs in mind.  These will give you an idea of what a theme tour might entail.

Contact us for more information on planning your own custom tour!


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This is blog based on the experiences and interests of travel agency owners Adrienne and Agni Mitra. Through our blog entries, we will share our travel experience and expertise. We will also have other entries of interest to inspire your travels.

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