The Art of Tour Development

By Zachary Moses

Have you ever seen an image in a magazine and thought to yourself “wouldn’t it be great to visit that place?” Perhaps you cut out the image from the magazine and stuck it to the side of your fridge with that plumbing or real estate refrigerator magnet that has been mysteriously on your fridge since you received it in 1995. You said to yourself, “someday… this is where I am going.” You weren’t sure how to get there or when, but you just knew that eventually, no matter what it would take, you would get there. This is your bucket list.

A few years pass, and one day you say to yourself “You know what? I’m going to do it! This year, I’m going.”

So you’ve made your decision, but now what do you do? Maybe you make a Google search or take a trip to Trip Adviser. Oh boy! It turns out that there are a lot of opinions on the Internet, and they often contradict each other. It can get a little bit overwhelming. So you break down and call some random travel agent. In the best case, the agent understands exactly what you want, and recommends the perfect spot. Or maybe the agent tries to sell you an entirely different destination that they know better, or encourages you to book a mainstream cruise where you get to wait in line to go ashore at your dream destination with your 5,000 new friends.

Sound familiar? If you still feel you haven’t found the right solution, you can go back to the Internet and try to book each part of your holiday by yourself. However, there are so many online options that it can be overwhelming. This hotel looks great, but is it in the right neighborhood? That restaurant sounds fantastic, but how do you get there? Do the locals speak English? How do you exchange money in this country? This hotel sounds too good to be true, but is this some scam? Yikes, wouldn’t it be great to have a knowledgeable editor?

This is where we come in. HE Travel and Alyson Adventures are what are known as international tour operators. We design and develop small group tours around the world, and we’ve been doing it for more than 40 years. We scour the globe, not only finding the most fascinating places, but figuring out the best way for you to see them. We always know who to talk to so we can stay current about what’s worthwhile seeing and doing. When possible we introduce you to our friends in the destination, and we know which local can be persuaded to let you into that section of the park that’s “closed” to the public. We would never just put you on a bus and drive you around so you can take pictures out your window.

Our mission is adventure! Whether you are on one of our group tours, or on a customized tour that we’ve designed just for you, our goal is to make sure that you experience the region for what it truly is, and to learn what the people who live there are most proud of. We immerse you in the destination, and adapt to the place, rather than making the place adapt to us. You will see the impossible, taste the incredible, and feel the freedom that comes from a well-run tour.

Our tours generally take months to develop, with tours to some unique destinations actually taking years to get everything just right … and just like you, we have magazine clippings of our dream destinations on our refrigerators. This is how great tours start, from dreams.

Every tour company has their primary “market.” For us, it’s the gay community. We know what gay people want from their time spent at a destination, and we know the best way to deliver it.  When we are designing our tours, we find our suppliers, then we have months of site visits, emails and phone calls aligning everything down to the smallest detail. We make arrangements to deal with the miles (or kilometers) of cultural differences. We make sure that the destinations are gay-friendly and we send our professional tour directors with nearly every tour, in order to make sure that every aspect of the tour is delivered as promised. Our tours bring together a small group of gay folks (and sometimes friends and family), so that no matter where we are, we’ve brought the gay community with us. We are your professional trip adviser. We bring you the world so that you only have to bring yourself.

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3 Responses to The Art of Tour Development

  1. Pingback: The Art of Tour Development | HE Travel | Tour Cambodia

  2. Tat Hean Lie says:

    I really like your article. I have travelled with you once. That was last year when I cycled along the Atlantique Coast of France, from Nantes to La RoChelle. I enjoyed that very much. However, that was only one trip in a string of four trips with other travel organisations, one following the other which I embarked upon in order to justify the marathon effort required (not to mention the cost of the air fare) from Australia to Europe. So if you could organise a string of at least two if not three trips, one following or nearly following the other, altogether lasting about four weeks, or thereabouts, I would be very interested to travel with your organisation more often. I agree with everything you said in your article.

    • philsheldon says:

      We have several tours that run back to back, and we can absolutely customize something for you. This is something we actually do often. We have a guy this year who is joining our Meditations on Mount Athos (Greece) tour, then stepping straight into our Greek Classics tour, then flying to Bari, Italy and joining our Puglia villa tour. He has to arrive a day late to Puglia, but we’ve made made sure that he will connect with the group easily. His total trip will be 21 days. If someone wanted to do a trip like this, then have a private tour for a week, they could then join the New Israel Adventure tour. We have so many options to make your trip amazing!

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