How much business do you think you would get if you did not publish your address or telephone number on your website or on the collateral for your product? On the surface it seems like a pretty foolish move, but for Image Tours, it is the only way to go. Image Tours has no desire to have their information plastered on the web or on their brochures. They prefer to have that information in the hands of travel professionals—it’s the only way they do business.
If nothing else, Image Tours knows their product. They have been selling escorted tours to Europe since 1939 and have been operating in the U.S. since 1960. They know Europe well and they only sell Europe. As their Senior Account Executive, Justin Osbon told me, “To make an analogy ‘If Europe were a heart problem, other tour operators are good general surgeons, but Image Tours is a heart specialist—now who do you want?'”
Image Tours operates 11 tours including their signature —Heart of Europe® tour which encompasses 7 countries in 15 days. Their guides are all local Europeans who are fluent in English (for English speaking tours) and have an average of 14 years with Image Tours. They pay attention to the details and are fully escorted from airport to airport once in Europe. Moving thousands of passengers each year, Image has a very respectable “go rate” with approximately 95% of all of their tours actually departing. They do guarantee some departures, and a quick call can answer that for you. While their tours can accommodate up to 46 guests (in a coach built for 53) the average group is 38-40 so overcrowding is rarely a problem. Additionally, they require all motor coaches to be under 5 years old with full facilities, panoramic windows and air conditioning. Again, your clients will not be stuck in some 1970s jalopy.
Since they deal exclusively with agents, you can expect that the commissions are favorable as well. They offer a tiered commission program based on productivity as well as participation in their marketing programs. As Osbon said, “If we are working together on an initiative, we want to reward the agent.” Groups can earn as much as 17% on the land commission and when you add in the uncapped air commission at 10%, Image Tours is a perfect answer for clients seeking an escorted product in Europe.
Image Tours is a third generation, family owned firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. While you can get information and check prices and availability online, if you are looking for a human, 800-968-9161 followed by a 1 will get you a well trained destination specialist. Are you looking to speak with Justin about a marketing initiative? Same number but press 3. They are available and anxious to speak with travel professionals.
When asked what sets Image Tours apart from the rest (a favorite question), Justin was quick on the response, “Since we are a smaller company we can pay attention to the smaller details where our competition cannot. We have the knowledge of what the American client wants when traveling to Europe. For example, water on the dinner table is rare in Europe unless specifically ordered, with us it is there. It is all about knowing and anticipating needs.”
To register with Image Tours, visit their website at www.ImageTours.com/agents or give them a call at 800 968-9161, but don’t let your clients know the number.
Editor’s Hint: While researching, it appears that Image has an inside track on The Oberammergau Passion Play in 2010, but tickets go fast. (JWF)