Comment: Why escorted tours are more rewarding than independent travel

Escorted tours provide numerous benefits that result in a more enriching experience, says Riviera Travel head of short haul product Joanne Lynn.

Gone are the days when going on an escorted tour meant you’d be herded like cattle on a whirlwind trip, visiting a dozen destinations in a fraction of the time. Fortunately, things are different now.

Customers are savvier and there’s a greater choice of travel experiences, so naturally their expectations are higher. And rightly so, if we expect them to entrust us with delivering their hard-earned holiday.

Every customer wants their holiday to be perfect, but planning for it can be incredibly stressful. Imagine organising flights, hotels and car hire for a multi-country tour, and then having to navigate language barriers, traffic and find parking in a foreign country! An escorted tour takes away the hassle of not just organising the trip, but also ensuring everything goes smoothly. It’s essential that tour managers are all experienced and trained professionals, so they’re prepared for challenges that even a well-travelled holidaymaker may not even anticipate. They’re there at every stage of the trip to make sure your customers are happy and safe.

Escorted tours aren’t just for mature customers; they’re ideal for anyone who wants to see the world as a traveller rather than a tourist. Expect qualified guides who are adept at engaging customers and bringing each destination to life, guides local to the area and with have a wealth of “inside” knowledge you won’t normally find in a guide book. This greater depth of understanding and appreciation means customers will find the holiday more enjoyable and memorable.

Making sure every aspect of itineraries is tailored to suit your customers is also vital, from the choice of hotels to the places that are visited. Escorted tours may take an unusual route that’s more scenic if it enhances the experience, or may decide on an early start if it means catching a spectacular sunrise.

Some customers may be put off by the idea of sticking to a strict schedule, but an organised tour doesn’t have to be soulless and regimented. Riviera Travel’s customers can choose to skip any of our tours and visits – although it would be a shame! Our tours are well-paced and always include free time, so there are plenty of opportunities for customers to explore further on their own. If customers need ideas of where to visit, or places to eat, the tour manager is always on hand with plenty of suggestions. We also offer lots of ways to ‘Personalise your holiday’ through additional unique experiences that’ll make a holiday even more special, whether that’s attending the oldest open-air opera festival in Verona or a night at the ballet in St Petersburg.

At first glance, an escorted tour might be seen as a little expensive, but when you consider everything that’s included in the packaged price, they really are fantastic value for money. At Riviera Travel, our teams personally go out and visit every destination, staying in the hotels, meeting the local guides and visiting all the places our customers will visit on their tour. And we’re continually improving all our tours and taking customer feedback on board, so we know our customers are going to have the best possible time on their holiday.

So the next time you’re faced with a customer who’s not sure if an escorted tour is really for them, remind them of all the benefits. There’s also the Riviera Travel team working behind the scenes who are always happy to help with answering questions or offering support to travel agents, so please pick up the phone and have a chat with them.

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