“After three years on the road with Globus Gateway, I felt that I had the confidence and knowledge to start my own tour operation. Among our first customers was my now wife, who later joined the fledgling business and played a vital role in its growth.”
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my introduction and what became almost a addiction to the tourism industry. (See 100 years in the hospitality industry!) In this column I would like to continue with part two.
After three years on the road with Globus Gateway, I felt that I had the confidence and knowledge to start my own tour operation. Of course it’s a lot more difficult than it initially sounds. Start small and grow was the plan. Using my savings, I purchased a Ford 12-seater minibus and began by driving and guiding my own long weekend tours to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Brugge based from a small office in Britain’s most easterly inhabited island, called Mersea.
Among our first customers, was my now wife, who later joined the fledgling business and played a vital role in its growth.
We soon outgrew the minibus and started chartering other firm’s coaches. We knew there was a market for travellers who wanted a high standard of transport from a convenient departure point, to stay in nice hotels, but at an affordable cost. It went far beyond price though, we wanted to get it right, without compromise.
Our groups stayed in beautiful hotels which included the Inter Continental and Schweitzerhof in Berlin, Admiral Copenhagen, Pultizer Amsterdam, Cayre, de Castiglione and Concorde Lafayette Paris, Royal Windsor, Brussels and Crowne Plaza Hamburg – Hotels that normally would charge room rates far above our meagre budget.
When contracting accommodation, I soon learnt the first question you asked was “When do you want us?” This was the secret.
For instance, the Inter Continental in Cologne would be full with business people Monday to Thursday nights, but over the weekend, occupancy would plummet to less than 30 per cent. We soon discovered that if the holiday duration was right and the product quality high that many people would take three or four breaks a year.
As egotistical as it may sound, we pioneered new standards in the industry at that time. Continue reading