10 OCT 2014: So your client asks about experiencing something local but doesn’t want to be burdened in finding that “local favourite” and thinks motor coach tours are only for old people.Well, it’s time for a rethink.

I recently went on a field trip. Okay, it wasn’t in an exotic country but instead it was in my own backyard of Toronto with Globus family of brands to figure out whether motor coach tours work.

For one of the world’s leading tour operators with an over 85-year track record selling package tours Globus certainly aren’t a slouch in this department. The company offers escorted motor coach tours with Globus, the value-priced Cosmos, prepackaged Monograms with its independent tours as well as its small ships portfolio, Avalon Waterways.

Now as our small media group was whisked away in a fancy V.I.P. leather upholstered “party” bus which incidentally left from the corner of Church and Bloor (the hub of the WorldPride parade), it kind of felt maybe this field trip would have some streamers or beaded necklaces, something glitzy.

Party streamers why not? Avalon Waterways just announced its latest godmother, eight-time Juno award winner Jann Arden, for the Avalon Tranquility II. She will no doubt inject her spicy brand of humour and firecracker personality to the newest ship which debuts next April in France.

But it also helps, as Stephanie Bishop, managing director for Globus family of brands in Canada, explained that coach touring in Canada for both Globus and Cosmos continues to grow.

“A lot of people think it’s an old-fashioned travel style but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The market is growing by leaps and bounds,” she smiled, microphone in hand as we blazed southbound on Church Street heading east to Old Town Toronto to indulge in an undisclosed “local favourite” surprise.

As the fall urban sights of pedestrians, delivery trucks and scenes of blessed construction came into view Stephanie focused on some coach tour myths.

Motor coach tour myths

Myth: Only for seniors

Reality: It’s not just for retirees. A younger age group has discovered the benefits. You have a designated driver, you leave the logistics to somebody else, and buses are Wi-Fi accessible so Facetiming and Facebooking don’t have to be delayed reactions as you drive by the Eiffel Tower in Paris or stop to see Big Ben in London.

In fact in Canada Stephanie says, 30 percent of their touring business is from people who are new to this travel style. “A lot of people haven’t been to Europe and they want to go the most effective way. All the surveys we do support the fact that Canadians want to discover Europe, and South America. It’s for all ages,” she explained adding that their value-driven brand, Cosmos, is especially good for younger travellers and their bucket lists.

Myth: Solo travel is expensive

Reality: Cosmos brand has a shared component so the company helps find a roommate.

Myth: Wait in line

Reality: With a big coach of a large group size the company has VIP access for attractions and events so no long lineups or long wait times. Remember that queue at the Sistine Chapel. Fuhgeddaboudit it.

Guides like James Saunders, Globus tour director and a seasoned professional tour guide in the business for 28 years with the company, help make a big difference. Picture a hotel check-in with a tired group of travellers who just want to refresh before dinner. Well James says he can check in a group of 46 people in a zip.

Myth: Europe-only tours

Reality: Not so much, as Stephanie relayed that while Europe is the company’s core product non-Europe is gaining lots of attention. “South America and Asia are hot.”

In fact South America I learned is so hot Globus next year will be adding South America to its Cosmos trip itineraries. “This is for people who want to take charge (and say) I want more time to myself, I want to be able to go out on my own, and I don’t want so many meals included,” said James.

Myth: Globus is for folks who can afford a Jaguar and Cosmos is for more Ford drivers.

Reality: Not really. James helped put the price differences between the higher Globus and lower Cosmos packages into perspective. Sometimes you get that doctor, senior executive who wants the logistics figured out for them but they want flexibility in restaurant choices, sightseeing opportunities and basically freer alone time.

Cosmos guests, he relayed prefer hotels closer to public transit closer to restaurants and want more time to explore on their own. ‘Sometimes they (Cosmos guests) have more money but they would rather choose their own.”

The Local Favourite Surprise

Meanwhile the big reveal for our group surprise was only minutes away. We head to the Toronto Distillery District, home of the former Gooderham and Worts whisky empire, to hear some fun trivia, passing by public art installations like the LOVE piece, a smattering of locks symbolizing unrequited love and then symbolically we stopped by another deep love so many of us share.

Chocolate.

“How many of you knew about this place?” he asked our group who clearly had a penchant for the deep dark cocoa bean. A big show of hands and off we went inside the bowels of SOMA to inhale and gaze at the intricate chocolate making process as we waited...

...and learned how Globus is attaching more chocolate-type tours in its popular South America itineraries.

And then out came a tray of spicy Mayan hot chocolate shots that had a velvet-satin sheen of rich secret spices, orange peel, ginger and Madagascar vanilla. You just swirled it around until it hit all the taste buds perfectly before going down the hatch. Mmmm, yummy.

Back on the bus we passed Old City Hall to learn that architect E.J. Lennox went over budget and never got the plaque he wanted bearing his name for the construction. Instead the good architect - if you aim your eyes closely onto the building – had his name chiselled in stone around the building “E.J. Lennox Architect,” said James of the little-known fact.

I have to say while it was only a quick afternoon tour of my own backyard, a coach tour sure helped put to ease the age-old questions like where to park, what to see and of course more importantly what to learn.

 

Coach Tour Toronto

author

Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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