Entrée. No. I’m not referring to a course on the menu. Entrée is French for entrance. Or to quote Webster, entrée is “freedom of entry or access.” And private entrée? Entrance or access to something or someone that the general public does not have. Here is your chance to provide a tour with these truly innovative private features which can differentiate your tour from a million others.
These features can offer clients the personal touch. They can also make it possible to compete with less expensive tours. Your tour includes private features which are yours alone and justify a higher price.
What are some private entrée features you might consider including in your itinerary? This will depend, of course, on the destination in question and the special interests of your group. I find that many adults are interested in ongoing education and the lifelong learning concept, so I’ve used private classes, lectures and demonstrations effectively. I also find that they love meeting “real people” not just hotel bellmen, waiters and guides.
When in France…
In France, my group spent a day at a private manor house outside Aix‐en‐Provence, complete with a four‐hour cooking class, followed by wine tasting and a leisurely and elegant lunch under the trees on a warm summer afternoon. In northern Italy, the same thing was possible an extremely articulate chef who patiently taught us to make risotto, pasta and other Tuscan and Umbrian goodies.
As part of a London trip, it was possible to arrange for a private fashion show. In Stratford, following a performance at the Shakespeare Memorial Theater, a backstage visit for our group with the director and several of the cast.
A special‐interest tour in Japan for those in agribusiness included a day with local folks. The group was amazed to learn how the Japanese raise watercress on land under their freeways, thus using every inch of tillable land to the utmost.
An unusual and very personal type of experience for many tour members is an opportunity to stay overnight in a private home with a local family. This was accomplished in Australia, by contacting an Australian ranching organization that was anxious to raise scholarship monies for their students. Each family in the association agreed to take one of our visiting tour members home for a 24‐hour ranch stay and we, in turn, made a donation to the scholarship fund, so it was a win‐win situation for all involved.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Go to Washington
Many times by adequate advance planning and political persuasion, you might arrange for your group not only to visit the sights in Washington. D.C., but also to meet and chat with your congressional representative. Many of them are most willing to meet with their constituents from back home.
Some years ago the owners of the receptive operator company I’ve used for many years in England bought an old Manor house in the Cotswolds. One of my groups loved being invited to a private late afternoon tea at their home. Our hostess explained the progress they’d made in the house over the years and her husband proudly showed off his garden to our admiring group. And then high tea was served and the two college‐age sons graciously greeted our members one by one. All in all, it was a most memorable afternoon.
This same operator arranged for an Oxford dean to address a group fireside on a blustery snowy January day. He also helped me plan a concert tour for the Berkeley (CA) Community Chorus, singing jointly with the Cheltenham Chorus. It was a unique opportunity for two groups of similar interests to share an endeavor on a more personal level than ordinary public tours permit.
This sort of combined effort could prove very effective if an organization from the western U.S. were to do something with a similar organization from another part of the U.S. or abroad.
The concept of private entrée is as rich as the imagination permits. Put on your thinking cap and ask your volunteers to do likewise. And, by all means, ask the tour operators you use to design some private and unique features for your group alone. Even if it does raise the tour price a wee bit, the unique flavor of your trip will make for a most distinctive and sought‐after travel adventure.