Get Creative and Increase Your Profits From UK-Bound Tours | Travel Research Online


Get Creative and Increase Your Profits From UK-Bound Tours

Cunard’s recent announcement of their new series of Mediterranean cruises set me thinking about some of the short programmes I can offer as pre- and post-cruise extensions from their main UK port of Southampton. The collection I’ve created includes Downton Abbey, the Cotswolds, Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Morse, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and the Beatles.

Given your knowledge of your client’s interests, generate some extra commission by offering them something that’s closer to their heart than a straight Southampton/London transfer!

Covid-19 has stalled UK-bound travel, but it hasn’t destroyed our historic sites, great cathedrals, abbeys, castles, and stately homes – or prevented Mother Nature from the annual refurbishment of our great gardens, both large and small.

Keep making plans for spring 2021 and beyond.

Experience Downton Abbey

I have a strong suspicion that you and many of your clients will have watched every episode, and that they probably own a complete collection of Downton Abbey boxed sets. As the key location is Highclere Castle, just 45 minutes north of Southampton, instead of taking the Cruise Terminal to London transfer, turn their passion into profitable reality with an On Location tour that includes the stately home itself – along with some of the villages used as locations for the various episodes. Highclere Castle opens on selected dates between 4th April-1st June and every day (except Fridays and Saturdays) from 11th July to 7th September.

Ah, The Cotswolds!

This glorious corner of England is just over 90 minutes north of Southampton and about the same from LHR, and a 3 night tour can be seasonally adjusted to coincide with a number of Cotswolds festivals and events including the annual Olimpick Games in early June, and the Longborough Opera Festival (4th June-3rd August 2021). With lunches in pubs that date back to the 14th century, highlights can include the award-winning gardens at Bourton House followed by English Afternoon Tea at a rarely opened private garden, an impressive Birds of Prey flying display at Cotswolds Falconry, and an unforgettable evening at The Pudding Club.

Morse, Marple, Midsomer and Holmes

Fans of these great detectives will really enjoy this 2-night itinerary. Leaving Southampton, it follows a trail that pauses at 13th century All Saints Church, Minstead, the final resting place for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before a lunchtime visit to spectacular Winchester Cathedral. With a Miss Marple ‘On Location’ visit on the way, take an Endeavour/Morse/Lewis themed walking tour of Oxford before discovering scenes from Midsomer Murders on the banks of the River Thames. If you can add an extra night, I recommend you add a visit to the Study in Sherlock in the Portsmouth City Museum and a half day Sherlock Holmes walking tour in London.

Myths and Legends

This 5000-year journey travels through the mists of time and gives insights into prehistoric Britain, the myths and legends of King Arthur, Roman Britain and Georgian England. The routing includes magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, the ancient stone circle at Stonehenge, and the Roman Baths in Bath. Subject to the dates of travel, we can include the beautiful Abbey House Gardens where “The WOW factor is here in abundance”; the royal gardens at Highgrove, home to some of the most inspired and innovative gardens in the UK; and Blenheim Palace, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and arguably the best showcase for the genius of ‘Capability’ Brown.

A Trail of Three Cities

Based in the iconic cities of Salisbury, Bath and Oxford (or in reverse order if you use London Heathrow as the gateway), this imaginative itinerary explains the Arthurian legends at Glastonbury Abbey, gives a fascinating insight into the life and times of Roman and Georgian England, takes you on a tour of locations associated with Inspector Morse and his faithful Sergeant Lewis, and delivers a Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland walking tour of the Oxford Colleges. With pub lunches and English Afternoon Teas in interesting locations, there’s also a journey through time from Stonehenge to Salisbury and a swing through the southern Cotswolds.


An Essentially English Experience

The cathedral city of Guildford is just 35 minutes southwest of London Heathrow, and only 75 minutes from the Southampton Cruise Terminal. Over a three-day period, you can offer your customers special tours of the Watts Gallery and artist’s village, a stroll through an 18th-century landscape at Painshill Park, and an audio tour of the Cobbe Collection of early keyboard instrument collection at Hatchlands. Garden lovers will appreciate a long and leisurely visit to the inspirational Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden at Wisley and, before reaching Southampton, a tour that follows in the footsteps of kings, saints, writers, and artists in Winchester’s awe-inspiring Norman Cathedral.

Discover the Beatles in Liverpool

This unique shore excursion features an early visit to the award-winning Beatles Story and your own private Magical Mystery tour that includes the new attraction at Strawberry Field, immortalised by John Lennon in the hit song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Before returning to the ship, there’s a visit to the Casbah Coffee Club, ‘the holy grail’ on the Beatles trail and where they truly began. Then the Liverpool Beatles Museum, both owned by Roag Best, brother of Pete Best, the Beatles original drummer. With sufficient notice, this short programme can be adjusted to include visits to the childhood homes of John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney.


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at or email him at

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