Author Archives: Paull Tickner

There are 65 articles by Paull Tickner published on this site.


On Location tours, Viking Festivals, Wallabies in one of England’s finest woodland gardens, and an audio tour of a fine collection keyboard instruments. Welcome to the world I live in and the experiences I include in customised itineraries for couples, families and groups cruising or flying in and out of the UK. Read on and discover more about the bubble, fizz and pleasant surprises I can add to your tours.

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From the steady flow of interesting travel advisor requests greeting me every morning here in the UK, two clear patterns are emerging as more and more of your UK-bound independent travellers and small groups are looking for tour ideas that:

  • Travel less, so that they can see and experience a whole lot more.
  • Match their interests, time frame and budget.

From my swift responses, they can see that they’ve come to the right person for quick and imaginative replies and as you read on, you’ll see that this week’s selection will help you to achieve both objectives.

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A travel counsellor recently asked me for a UK garden tour that her clients hadn’t seen before. My suggestion combined the Journées des Plantes in Paris and the Chelsea Flower Show in London. She’s now promoting this programme and shooting for a small group of 12-15 for late May 2020 and it’s my top story.

Other eye-catching updates include two new attractions in the Viking city of York, news of a major ceramics event in the World Capital of Ceramics aka Stoke on Trent, and the annual re-enactment of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. The improved dollar/sterling exchange rate offers possibilities for UK shopping trips and I’ve added a couple of bright ideas for November/December Christmas tours. Bon Voyage!

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I know you’re extremely busy but as I want you to generate some profitable new UK-bound business, please spare me 5-10 minutes by listing the names of people you know who are Master Gardeners –  members of orchid, rose, herb and other specialist garden societies: friends of botanical gardens and arboreta; landscape gardeners; TV, radio, newspaper and magazine gardening personalities; clients who are members of your local garden Club. These contacts are potential pied pipers and some of the ideas in this week’s edition will start conversations that can top and tail visits to the Chelsea Flower Show.

As many of your green-fingered clients will be busy with their own gardens/gardening events in May, think seriously about a Cornwall garden tour in March/April. It’s worth considering because the warming effect of the Gulf Stream ensures that spring comes early in this part of the world, making March/April the best time to visit when everything is fresh and lush. Airfares might also be better…

Having made the list, read on for more hooks to hang a customised UK garden tour and let’s exchange emails about the value added, customised tour you can offer them. Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re a regular reader of these Agent’s Perspectives (and there are many of you out there) you’ll be aware of my longstanding commitment to helping you identify and profitably develop some of the untapped niche markets close to where you live. It’s why my website is divided into separate sections for GARDEN, FAITH, VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS, GIRLS GETAWAYS, etc.

Many of your anglophile clients will be interested in themes with a LITERARY/ON LOCATION slant, and with 15 conversation starting itinerary outlines on the Literary Tours page, you can take a look at some of the potential sources ON YOUR DOORSTEP. Read the rest of this entry »

Bustling and colourful Christmas markets in historic settings, treasure-filled castles and stately homes in full festive mode: carol singers, sparkling and highly decorated Christmas trees, mulled wine, mince pies and ice skating outdoors at famous London attractions. Welcome to an exciting series of London and the countryside tour ideas that can be gift-wrapped to generate valuable extra commission in the run-up to Christmas.

My top story brings together 5 Christmas markets in London, Winchester, Salisbury and Bath which can be given extra festive flair by adding one or more of my After Dark Tours. December also sees the appearance of outdoor skating rinks at several famous heritage sites in London, and they provide a starting point for an unusual Girls Getaway.

I couldn’t resist creating a programme where you can meet a crowd of much-loved characters at Rochester’s annual Dickens Festival, complete with visits to the castles at Hever and Leeds, both fully decorated for Christmas. Read the rest of this entry »

Ours is a creative industry and if you like thinking out of the box, you’ll love what’s in store for you and your clients on this side of the northern gateway of Manchester. As many of you can easily use Virgin Atlantic’s flights from Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando (see schedule) start a conversation with anglophile clients about customised tours that include Beatrix Potter, the Brontës, Wedgwood, David Hockney, Hadrian’s Wall and the heritage cities of Chester and York. Let’s create something that matches their interests, time frame and budget. Take a close look at this website and discover no fewer than 23 exciting new products that are waiting, just for you! Read the rest of this entry »

The recent announcements about the new ePassport gates at UK airports (see my top story) started me thinking about other ways in which you can help your clients enjoy a smoother and better start to their UK visit.

Having gained time by a quicker journey through immigration at London Heathrow, don’t squander it by joining the Monday-Friday rush hour traffic jams heading into London—only to find that their hotel rooms won’t be ready until the early afternoon. Get the trip off to a more enjoyable start by heading northwest for about an hour and use one of these suggestions as the starting point for a customised UK tour. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m always on the look-out for new ways of looking at your old friend Britain and this week’s edition spotlights 7 imaginative ideas that will delight adults and families alike and generate valuable extra profit for the innovative travel planner.

On Location with Downton Abbey leads the way and it’s followed by the celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of D Day. There’s a neat idea for Roald Dahl fans, some incredible edibles in Clovelly and if your clients can travel a little further into the world of Doc Martin, Poldark, King Arthur and Lorna Doone you will also see some tasty foodie reasons for adding the attractive North Devon to your itineraries in England’s West Country.

There’s an intriguing Children’s Literature tour suggestion for July and August and for niche marketeers, you’ll spot the potential in the British Ceramics Biennial in the World Capital of Ceramics. For those interested in converting much-loved TV series like Poirot and Miss Marple into see it, touch it reality, your little grey cells will start buzzing with September’s Agatha Christie Festival.

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Most of my Windows on Britain articles concentrate on ideas that will appeal to adults flying or cruising in-and-out of the UK; but today, I’m going to highlight some of England’s countryside attractions which dramatically bring history to life during the summer months. Weekends are when many of these imagination-stretching re-enactments take place and, as that’s when the world descends on London, they offer a very good reason for escaping from our people and traffic-filled capital city.

If your client’s holiday starts on Saturday or Sunday, break the habit of a lifetime by heading straight into the English countryside and start the vacation with one of our jaw-dropping historic events. Then on Monday, with jetlag parked and a morning visit to a castle under their belt, head for London where, during the early afternoon, their rooms will be ready. Doesn’t that get things off to a better start?

England offers a VERY long menu of experiential tour opportunities and here are just a few that have caught my eye.

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Among several interesting requests this week, there was one for 4 motoring enthusiasts who want to attend the Goodwood Revival in September. The tour I’ve created for them includes some wonderful motor museum experiences, and I offer them to you in case you have some vintage car club members in your client base.

Another was for a Scotch whisky distillery tour, which will probably tie into the Spirit of Speyside Distilled Festival in early September. A third travel agent wanted to propose a fund raiser to her local art gallery, and I’ve used as bait, the outstanding Sculpture Exhibition at the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden at Wisley.

Give careful thought to these niche markets, because you will have clients with an interest in all three of them and they will share that interest with their like-minded friends. You, the travel agent can turn it into valuable business.

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This window on England opens on the Royal Horticultural Society and the stunning flower shows they organise along with the Chelsea Flower Show. I’ve sharpened the focus on Blenheim Palace, York, our home of chocolate and the autumn Ceramics Biennial in Stoke on Trent before taking a closer look at Cornwall. Although it is in the far southwest of England, it’s a first-class illustration of a TRAVEL LESS-SEE MORE destination and my suggestions will begin to reveal what this rugged southwestern tip of England can offer enterprising travel counsellors.

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For many travel planners, London Heathrow arrivals are frequently followed by the slow drive through the London rush hour traffic to hotels, where the rooms are often not ready. For more years than I choose to remember, I’ve been championing the idea of starting tours of Britain with the first three to four nights in the English countryside. To illustrate the point, I’m suggesting journeys of less than one hour from London Heathrow to cathedral cities and market towns where jet lag can be parked in fine country house hotels and new travel experiences can be enjoyed before arriving in London, adjusted to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and when bedrooms are ready.

Take a look at my Six of the Best – St Albans, Guilford, the Ashdown Forest, Oxford, Petworth and Winchester. Many of your clients will love this idea.

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Piecing Together Britain’s Heritage

One of the Christmas presents I always looked forward to was the jigsaw puzzle from my aunt, which gradually became more complex as the years went by. It probably explains why I so enjoy identifying different aspects of the UK and piecing them together as memorable and unique travel experiences for your customers. This week’s ‘box of tricks’ introduces England’s Jurassic Coast, numerous great detectives (anglophiles will recognise them immediately), embroidery collections, ceramics and the 75th anniversary of D Day. Read on and then send me the jigsaw puzzle I can help you with!

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If you’re a regular reader of these Agents Perspectives (email me at ptickner@customgb.co.uk, it would be good to meet you), you’ll be familiar with my mantra of “Travelling Less Seeing More” and my top 5 stories are just another very good illustration of just how this can be done. As all these attractions are a short hop from London Heathrow, it makes better sense to base them in a fine country house hotel so that you can offer them a stylish, travel less, see more start to their UK visit before they head into London.

For much the same reason, interest in Cotswolds-based tea room tours is also growing, as is awareness of new travel experiences through the northern gateway of Manchester where the World Capital of Ceramics aka. Stoke on Trent is almost on its doorstep. I’ve finished with a valuable ‘Traveller’s Tip’.

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Just in case you think that I dream up these ideas for my own amusement, almost every one of this week’s collection plays an important role in customised itineraries I’ve recently created for enterprising travel counsellors.

The top story provides the foundations for a small group, pre-cruise extension in September and the Artist Village is in a 2020 Chelsea Flower Show itinerary. A visit to Duke Humfrey’s Library is part of a C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien literary tour for a family of 7 in June and Palladian Elegance appeals to another travel agent as something different for next year. I don’t yet have any takers for the Bluebells at Hole Park (working on it) but Spode and Wedgwood are in a long weekend shopping trip to the World Capital of Ceramics.

Tell me what fires your imagination.

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Every year, at the end of January, some of England’s attractions come together to showcase what they have to offer during the forthcoming season and I’m always on the lookout for bright ideas for you to offer independent travellers and small groups cruising or flying in or out of London. Most of them are in the southern and central regions of the country, and this week I’m highlighting an opening selection with more to follow in 2 weeks’ time. Don’t forget, if something catches your eye, I have nearly 40 years’ experience in matching it to suit your client’s interest, time frame and budget. Here are 10 suggestions that will give you a more imaginative perspective on your old friend Britain. Read the rest of this entry »

As you, and many of your clients, may have seen on last Sunday’s Masterpiece screening of ‘Victoria’, my top story will help you to convert their interest in fiction into reality UK On Location tour. As I’ve successfully run it for a Public Broadcasting Station, I can offer you a programme that works extremely well as a customised small group tour.

You’ve probably read about ‘The Favourite’, the historical period comedy-drama film starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Acclaimed at the Venice Film festival, what you may not know is that Hatfield House, just north of London was the chosen filming location. Use the link in my second story for a closer look.
With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings just around the corner, I’ve added something on the role played by the North Devon village of Clovelly in the build-up to Operation Overlord.
For clients cruising in or out of Dover, a visit to the Denbies Wine Estate will add some sparkle to a transfer to or from the port and for those who enjoy Living History experiences, The Eboracum Festival in York will tick all the boxes as will the annual Alice’s Day celebrations in Oxford!

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Wedgwood, Wells, Quilts, Tea and Cakes

Happy New Year! For me, 2019 got off to a great start with a travel agent request for 6 older ladies who want to go to the Festival of Quilts (Birmingham 1st-4th August). After a quick-fire volley of bright ideas from me, they are now flying from Atlanta to the user-friendly northern gateway of Manchester for a series of imaginative and memorable visits which include:

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I’m rounding off a busy year with a selection of imagination stretching bright ideas that I’m already including in customised UK tours. The lead story flags up a significant anniversary which many Methodist churches will be celebrating, and which some enterprising travel agents have already spotted as the starting point for an imaginatively themed UK Methodist Heritage tour. The stories continue with a pop-up Elizabethan theatre in York, Peter Pan in Dumfries, Scotland and a Harry Potter/Roald Dahl combination that will appeal to families and people like me who like me who are also fans!

News of direct flights from London Heathrow to Newquay in Cornwall makes access to Doc Martin, Poldark, Arthurian legends and other important literary anniversaries a great deal easier—and those of you with green fingered clients will be able to offer them an Ireland, Wales and England programme they will probably have never seen before

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas. See you next year!

Paull

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Shaking the Dust Off the History Books

In the world of customised UK/Ireland tours, I never know what’s going to appear overnight on my laptop. Requests in the past few days have been for a Public Broadcasting Station tour to Cornwall (Doc Martin and Poldark), a food and whisky tour of Scotland, a post cruise 3-nighter to the Cotswolds and a Methodist church interested in next year’s 350th anniversary of Susannah Wesley, mother of her 2 famous sons, John and Charles. More on that shortly.

I also created a small group tour for an action-filled 3 days at Europe’s largest Viking Festival in York which made me curious to learn more about some of the other living history events that fill the UK’s calendar each year. What I’ve discovered is a nation-wide Aladdin’s Cave of edge-of-your-seat historical re-enactments and living history experiences that add something memorable to any customised tour of Britain. Read the rest of this entry »