28 NOV 2018: Are you selling lots of coach tours these days? If not, why not? There’s a tour for every taste, age and budget. One of my beloved nieces had the time of her life on a Contiki tour, several of my cousins still years later talk about their Insight trips.

Yes, even those clients that previously wouldn’t dream of “taking a bus trip and being herded like cattle from gift shop to gift shop are changing their minds.”

Insight Vacations told me sales are way up this year. Last week, I was invited to join a group of agents for a fabulous dinner, so they could thank their agents and talk about this year’s offerings.

Coach tours have become more popular than ever we were told. And why not, it is all done for your clients. It is seamless for them. Other people plan the route, organize hotel rooms, and get a better price than you could get them, or they could get themselves. Someone else gases up the coach and makes sure it is serviced. And speaking of coaches, Insight has customized their coach to give more leg room. Yes, there is free Wi-Fi on board.

One of people’s biggest fears is that there will be no time to do “their own thing.” A few years ago, I took a five-day tour around England, Scotland and Wales now called The Gems of Britain. It certainly was fast paced just as described but I had plenty of time to do the things I wanted to… such as buy a cashmere sweater, and a tartan dog collar in Edinburgh.

On certain dates in August, the departures for that tour attend the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

There was a lot of driving, and some passengers complained ... You might want to point out distances when you’re selling the tour. Other passengers were thrilled that THEY weren’t driving and could just sit back and enjoy. The ones that enjoyed the trip the most were the passengers that knew they were getting a taste, and an idea of which destination they wanted to go back to and stay longer.

There are 70 trips to choose from this year.

In 2016 the company launched Luxury Gold, for those clients of yours that want the very best.

When people ask why the difference in price, tell them that Luxury Gold organizes VIP experiences after hours, to avoid the crowds and with a private local historian. Then there is the accommodation - boutique, five-star, luxury hotels, and the third big reason is - the food.

It includes meals in Michelin-starred restaurants, enjoy hands on local fare, and cookery classes in family run bistros. A Traveling Concierge goes along who will smooth the way, open doors and make any special arrangements your clients may want. Meals include wine. There is an average of 28 passengers on each coach.

Luxury Gold has announced some new tours this year and the Castles & Kingdoms - 20 days in Britain and Ireland - should be a big seller.

After all, two royal weddings, a new royal baby and another one on the way, mean the British Royals have been in the news practically daily, that makes castles, stately homes and anything royal a must see”.

There’s a great itinerary and includes things like the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London which has taken place every night for the past 700 years. It was an unforgettable evening when I went, wandering the Tower and watching the ceremony not quite but almost alone. History came alive, and it was magic to be amongst it. But that isn’t all, this is a Chairman’s Collection, and on select departures your clients will meet the Duchess of Northumberland for a private tour of her beautifully restored gardens at her home, Alnwick Castle.

This is where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. The gardens are world famous, and have been redone by the Duchess, who is the first woman appointed Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland by Queen Elizabeth II no less. In 2011 she was patron of 160 charities. It’ll be hard to resist asking her about Prince William and Katharine’s wedding … she was a guest.

Your clients will also be introduced to the Head Hardener, Trevor Jones, who will lead them past a labyrinth, the serpent garden and ornate fountains, as they listen to the fascinating story of how the Duchess restored this exquisite garden to its former 18th century glory over the last twenty years. It remains a work in progress. Then they will indulge in a seasonal lunch and join a Local Expert for an in-depth exploration of the 11th Castle.

Their travels continue to the beautiful Scottish capital of Edinburgh where you have an evening to enjoy at your leisure. Your Travelling Concierge is a treasure-trove of knowledge and will happily guide you to the best local restaurants and attractions. During August, they’ll be invited to witness the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

They will dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bath and enjoy a VIP twilight picnic at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in the Yorkshire countryside.

SIGH! Doesn’t it make you want to go with your clients?

 

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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