Following last month’s suggestions for early season February-May garden tours, here are some more but this time for the June-September period. Putting them together, I’ve been struck by an important thought.
Because your clients are travelling between 3,000-6,000 miles for their customised tour, every itinerary should be spiced up with owner/head gardener visits. These special touches add a few extra dollars to the overall tour cost but their impact on the quality of the experience is huge and worth every penny.
As we move into the season of mellow fruitfulness, thoughts should turn to offering clients imaginative tours packed with visits to interesting historic castles, magnificent stately homes and beautiful gardens, perhaps linked to one of our many outstanding garden shows. Your target audience will be Master Gardeners, Friends of Arboreta and Botanical Gardens, Orchid, Rose and other specialist societies and your local Garden Club.
However, a wider audience might be interested in being offered say a Cornwall tour with a day at the Cornwall Spring Flower Show with the rest of the itinerary focusing on Arthurian legends, Poldark, Doc Martin and learning the difference between a Cornish and a Devon Cream Tea. They’re not the same!
Britain-bound first, second and third time visitors frequently look for itineraries that pack as much as possible into the shortest amount of time. However, this is not always the case with more savvy anglophile travellers to the UK and here are five important hallmarks that embellish the imaginatively themed and customized UK/Ireland tours I put together for independent customers and groups flying or cruising in and out of Britain.
The recent appalling terrorism atrocity in Manchester has inspired me to increase my efforts to heighten awareness of this user-friendly northern gateway which is more accessible than ever before with non-stop flights from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Newark, New York JFK, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C
Virgin Atlantic have recently started non-stop services from San Francisco and Boston to the north of England city of Manchester. With flights already heading across the pond from Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, JFK, Philadelphia and Washington DC it’s worth taking a much closer look at why you should be actively promoting this user-friendly gateway to North Wales, northern England and Scotland.
Visit England recently announced that 2017 is to be the Year of Literary Heroes and with it being the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the 20th anniversary of J K Rowling’s first novel, the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication, and with the five-year Brontë 200 celebration well underway, it set me thinking about how you could convert these and other literary connections into a profitable UK travel experience.
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For many, the Chelsea Flower Show is THE garden show to include in any springtime UK garden tour and I’m not going to disagree. However, there are some independent clients who just can’t get away in May because of commitments to their own garden club, and I’ve picked out several alternative events that may well catch their eye.
For those who can travel in May, look also at the garden festivals in France, Ireland, and Scotland and see how they can be combined to create something completely new. Read the rest of this entry »
With the post-Brexit exchange rate holding at its lowest level since the mid ‘80s, fans of English costume dramas will be thrilled by Masterpiece Theatre’s mid-January screening of ITV’s ‘Victoria,’ while Jane Austen’s 200th anniversary will encourage more ‘On Location’ interest in some of their earlier productions.
Staying with the literary theme but blending together David Hockney, Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, James Herriot, and JMW Turner with the ongoing Bronte 200, celebrations programs opens up new opportunities for more creative tours in England’s North Country. Read the rest of this entry »
With economic data showing that the British economy is faring better than many experts predicted from Brexit uncertainty, the exchange rate has gone from $1.47 on 23rd June to $1.31 today; setting up a perfect scenario for a short fuse UK trip. That said, the news gets even better for enterprising travel agents because everything I’ve listed here will take place all over again in 2017, which gives you a full year to convert at least one of these events into an even more valuable piece of new business. Read the rest of this entry »
While clever people way above my pay grade work out the far reaching implications of the ‘earthquake’ caused by the Brexit victory, as far as our hotels, castles, stately homes, gardens, cathedrals, pubs and tea rooms are concerned, the signs are out everywhere to confirm that it’s very much business as usual.
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If your local theater stages a Shakespeare season or festival, there’s very good chance that over the past weekend, they may have been marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. Given that any Shakespeare season attracts good audiences, capitalize on the media coverage by talking to them about a customized London – Stratford – London tour that could feature experiences they may never have seen before. The market gets bigger when you think of drama teachers and professors who will be looking for an interesting program for their Theater and English Literature students for their Spring Break in 2017. Read the rest of this entry »
What do Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and George Washington all have in common? Linked together, they all become key players in a memorable early July family travel experience that starts and finishes in London.
Major literary anniversaries make great foundations for a customized tour, and in 2016 with the Brontë Sisters, Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, and Alf Wight (aka James Herriot), we have four very well known names with which to work.
Don’t be put off by the words ‘Literary Tour.’ With the addition of privately owned homes and gardens and the inclusion of pubs and tearooms, tours to the sources of inspiration for great writers and poets can be informative, entertaining, and fun. Read the rest of this entry »
To mark the 300th anniversary of ‘Capability’ Brown and in celebration of England’s many fabulous gardens, landscapes, and events, VisitEngland is promoting ‘Year of the English Garden’ as a major theme for 2016. As most of the places your customers will want to visit lie outside of London, you now have the opportunity to develop new itineraries which spend 5-6 nights in the countryside packed with value-added visits to privately owned castles, stately homes, and gardens. Pubs and tea rooms get added into the mix and with jetlag parked, your clients are then ready for 2-3 nights in London, plus extensions on an independent basis. Read the rest of this entry »
Just as the Chelsea Flower Show defines excellence for garden lovers, so do the three little words, “The Flying Scotsman”, resonate with the tens of thousands of people who flock to see the Steam Preservation and Rail Museums in North America. Take a look at the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums, and then check out the UK product possibilities at the Heritage Railway Association. Read the rest of this entry »
During September, many garden clubs will be reconvening after their summer vacation which makes this a good time for finalizing and presenting a really eye catching, value added customized UK tour at their next meeting.
In the months ahead, your customer’s gardening magazines will be carrying details and images of the 2016 Year of the English Garden and the Tercentenary of Capability Brown, the UK’s most famous Master Gardener; so get ahead of the game and capture this interest by offering them a program that they won’t see in any tour operator’s brochure, which combines large and spectacular castles and stately homes with privately owned homes and gardens rarely open to the general public. Read the rest of this entry »
Many years ago, I formed my love affair with North America by taking advantage of Greyhound’s amazing offer of 99 days of travel for $99. I spent nearly 5 months touring your fine country and still have the Rand McNally map to prove it.
While you and your customers may not have spent as long falling in love with the UK, many will thank you for suggesting a London and York holiday. Here are some reasons why they’d willingly let the train take the strain out of the fast 2-hour journey between the two locations. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cotswolds – Forever England
I always get a positive reaction whenever I mention the word ‘Cotswolds’ at trade shows. That said, many travel agents are unaware that this iconic destination stretches from Stratford upon Avon in the north to Bath in the south and across to Oxford in the east. It is a region of sleepy, honey colored limestone villages, sheep-clad hillsides, privately owned and internationally renowned gardens, 16th century pubs, quintessentially English tea rooms, the Arts and Crafts Movement, jaw dropping history, treasure filled castles and a close encounter with Tudor England. Welcome to the Cotswolds, a corner of England that has just become more accessible thanks to the new American Airlines daily non-stop service from JFK to Birmingham in the heart of England. Read the rest of this entry »
With hints of the long awaited Spring in the air and with the Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner across the pond, here’s an update on some new ideas for UK garden tours. Some of them like the Capability Brown 300th anniversary in 2016 will be of great interest to your gardening contacts while others will appeal to customers cruising or flying in/out of Southampton, Dover or Harwich this year.
Which is a better idea? To book your clients on pre-set departure UK tours or to suffer the slings and arrows of some extra work by creating a tailor made program that matches their interests, time frame and budget—the FIT.
For first and second time visitors, a London-only or a 7-10 night extended tour, will often start a love affair with Britain that will last for years. Once smitten these soon-to-be anglophiles may well say yes to a proposal that’s based in 2 different hubs for 3-4 nights each. Read the rest of this entry »