Describe the best group trip you’ve been on and why?
Our long-haul trips to China, India and Japan over the past few years have been absolutely fantastic.I personally love to experience the amazing diversity of cultures. Of course, these holidays are made all the more special by the comradeship of the group. We have great fun on every trip and as they love well-structured tours, it is a real pleasure organising these holidays for them.
Groups usually prefer hot countries in the cooler seasons, but many also prefer the colder climates of some winter getaway favourites including Norway, Austria and Iceland. In late spring, Europe, especially Italy, is a group favourite and I try to organise somewhere different, but equally as special each year.
The Dolomites and Lake Garda to Venice and Rome, Tuscany and Amalfi, down to Puglia, have been such wonderful holidays. With a passion for lakes and mountains, our Swiss Mountain Railway Tour with the Switzerland Travel Centre last September definitely features at the top of my list. We are now looking forward to a luxury cruise around the Dalmatian Islands in Croatia with Travelsphere on the deluxe 20-cabin MS President, and a two-centre holiday in Sicily – both of which I have had the good fortune to previously experience. We are also excited about our long-haul tour to Vietnam & Cambodia with The Travel Adventure in late October – two countries I have been planning to visit for many years.
Describe the worst group trip you’ve been on and why?
A tour to Prague for the Christmas Market could have gone horribly wrong if our Tour Operator, Success Tours, had not so efficiently pulled out all the stops. Whilst sitting on the plane in Prague waiting to fly home, we were suddenly stranded by deep snow. Fortunately, I was able to contact Success Tours’ emergency line and also my UK coach company, who were already on their way to the airport. Success Tours immediately put our evacuation from Prague airport into action, arranging a mini bus to take us back to the Adria Hotel. They even managed to arrange with the Manager that we have the same rooms we just vacated. As we ended up staying another three nights, it’s now fondly called the ‘Solent Events Bog Off’ Holiday. As we always say, ‘it’s not what goes wrong, but how it’s put right that matters’ and Success Tours really did live up to their name.
What’s your favourite destination for a group day out?
London has to be one of our favourite places for an Away-Day. We regularly attend a West End show, but my group’s favourite venue has to be the Royal Albert Hall. I recently organised a Mystery Away-Day to the Cotswolds, which everyone loved. We also like destinations with a rural feel, whereby I have organised various visits to the East side of London, plus areas around Oxford, Windsor and the New Forest. My Away-Days normally include a ‘sight to see’, a ‘lunch to enjoy’ and a delicious ‘afternoon tea’ – the perfect end to a perfect day.
What do you think makes a good group experience?
Meticulous planning, careful organisation and precise attention to detail will always ensure a good group experience. Excellent communication throughout is a ‘must,’ commencing with the venue(s), any catering facility, the Coach Company and driver. I always send a ‘Final Postcard’ to my clients, confirming the date, time of chosen pick-up, coach seat number and any other important information and recommendations necessary – keeping queries to a minimum.
I do feel that a ‘guide’ can make or break a tour, so I endeavour to ensure that ours is amusing, informative and not too heavy on ‘the numerous dates and deep rooted history.’
What do you always pack?
My mobile phone, complete with all the contact numbers required for the tour or excursion.
What do you always leave out?
Nothing according to my list, but I usually end up pre-packing and then halving it.
What were your most recent group trips?
A successful Ladies Day at Epsom, before embarking on my own annual family holiday. We had previously experienced a 13-day tour of Japan, a six-day tour to Marrakech and in February, a wonderful short break to Cologne and Dusseldorf to see André Rieu in concert – both organised with Success Tours.
Our most recent Away-Days include a Mystery Tour to the Cotswolds, a ‘Rags to Riches’ Day in London – Borough Market and lunch at The Ritz, Waddesdon Manor and Bletchley Park and an amazing five-course luxury lunch and journey through Kent on the exquisite Belmond Pullman Orient Express.