Have you ever thought what you, as a trip designer and planner, should bring to your prospective traveler? Sure, your travelers are going to buy the exciting itinerary and contents you have mentioned. But they’re buying more than just the day-to-day schedule outlined in your brochure or other publicity materials. Here are the magic 12 features I think a good trip should provide above and beyond hotels, transportation and guides.
1. A Glimpse of Beauty
Something your tour members will remember as beautiful – a spectacular sunset, a colorful garden, a striking architectural structure.
2. A Change of Pace
Varied experiences, some intense, some fleeting, something totally different in the day’s pacing from what one would be doing at home so that your tour members feel they are really “away” when they’re away with you.
Hopefully developed among your fellow tour members as the trip moves along, culminating in new friendships to be continued long after the tour ends and one returns home. Not only do new friends make for new emotional fodder to warrant future trips, but it always pleases tour members to know that they’ve enlarged their circle.
4. An Appreciation of the Past
A look back through the ages bringing to life the history your tour members may have studied in school and are now seeing and perhaps understanding for the first time.
5. A Sense of Fun
Stories, jokes, funny incidents. Laughter all the way around the group. The lighter touch can also balance any unpleasant incidents that may have occurred en route: a rude waiter, an impossible-to-understand local guide, an unhelpful hotel desk clerk.
6. Something Sensual
A massage, a visit to a perfume factory, a pedicure. A walk on the beach with the sand between your toes. Something they will remember by the touch.
7. A Food Experience
Being introduced to totally new and delicious dining experiences. Hopefully not just eating new cuisines but visiting a local market and attending a cooking demonstration or opportunity to “do it yourself” under supervision of a local chef. Being able to return home and pass along this new ability to family and friends.
8. Your Personal Kindness
To the locals and to other members of your group so that when you return home you can honestly say that you “gave back” to those whom you met and learned from along the way.
9. A Learning Experience
Not just learning about the history of the areas you’re visiting but understanding how this history developed through the years. Bringing history to life through visits to such sites as the Louvre, the Statue of Liberty or something as awful as Auschwitz.
10. Meeting With Locals
Not just visits to places and buildings, but interacting with local people of the areas you’re visiting. You can pre-arrange a dinner get-together with a local teacher, lawyer or business person who might provide insight to your group.
11. Pre-Trip Advice
Help before the trip even starts in information bulletins you may prepare advising them on passports and any necessary visas, packing, clothing suggestions, en route medications, any required inoculations and other suggestions that occur to you.
12. A Sense of Pride
Pride on your part that you were able to provide this unique trip, but also pride on the part of the tour members that they actually had the opportunity to be part of this wonderful travel project. This pride will be the basis for their recommending future travel clients to you and will also mean that they will come back year after year on future travel programs you may plan and offer to them. And while every trip trip you plan may not include all 12 of the points mentioned, it should give you some insight as to what a top-notch operator can aspire.