The benefits of a tailormade holiday
In this blog post we try and define the meaning of a tailormade holiday, outline the advantages of booking bespoke travel arrangements and address the question of price. We also provide a case study demonstrating exactly how we tailor travel arrangements for our clients.
What is a tailormade holiday?
The difference between a tailormade and an 'off the peg' holiday is not always clear, but in simple terms these can be split between group and private travel arrangements. All group tours come with fixed itineraries, and whilst there are some advantages in this arrangement, there is zero flexibility once you arrive in the destination as the leader herds the group from A to B at a pre-determined time. If you decide to travel on a private basis - whether you are a couple, family, group of friends or solo traveller - all arrangements are booked on an individual basis and are tailored to personal requirements both in the planning and execution stages.
What are the key advantages of a tailormade holiday?
Here are a few bullet points to summarise the benefits of a bespoke travel package:
- Having an expert travel consultant on hand to make suggestions based on their first-hand knowledge of the destination.
- Being able to pick the departure date which fits in with your schedule.
- Dictating the exact duration of the holiday around your work or other life plans.
- Selecting the style and standard of accommodation and work out the most suitable day to day activities.
- A complete choice of the airline and airport to fly with and from.
- In most cases having a private guide and car at your destination, allowing complete flexibility of timings and activities.
- Overall a much more personalised level of service from start to finish.
Is tailormade travel more expensive?
We are often asked by our customers ‘do your bespoke holidays cost more than group tours?’. This is always a tricky question to answer because there are so many different products out there to compare with. On one end of the scale you have exotic sounding holidays with startlingly low lead-in prices splashed across the classified sections of the weekend newspapers. What these adverts do not reveal is that these are group tours with a minimum of 40 or 60 participants, and if this number is not reached the tour will be cancelled a few weeks before the planned departure date. With a series of tours this size over a season gives significant buying power with hotels and transport suppliers, and this is translated in the low sell price that no tailormade holiday could compete with. But be in no doubt, these tours are as mass market as you get - think modern business hotels in out of town locations, bland buffet meals and sightseeing in a herd. If you then compare prices with the medium-sized groups with up to 28 people and smaller groups with no more than 15, the playing field becomes more level. Whilst there is some buying power with hotels and transport providers with these sizes of groups, there are increased costs involved with group tours such as the tour leader, brochure production and distribution and group airfares. What’s more the sell prices are set at the minimum number threshold which are set much lower than the maximum group size, which can be as low as 6 or 8 at times. Once the additional costs are factored in, the cost of arranging a tailored holiday is comparable to a group tour for the same itinerary and content.
How to start planning a tailormade holiday?
We only arrange private tailormade holidays in Asia and have an enormous library of sample tours for each of our destinations, including many multi country options. These can be booked off the peg, but in almost every case we personalise the itineraries to match the tastes, interests and budget of our client.
Whilst there is an online enquiry form on our website to get the ball rolling we find that speaking over the phone, or in person at our office, allows us to get a much clearer understanding of our clients and what they are looking to get out of the big adventure they are planning.
To give you some idea of the type of tailormade tours that we arrange for our clients we have the following case study outlining the processes involved when putting together a bespoke holiday.
Case Study – The McKenna Family from Harrogate
The trip: A three-week family holiday in Cambodia with two children.
The brief: Their main priorities were to see the Temples of Angkor away from the crowds, stay in small local-style hotels (not flashy), do some wildlife activities, see local lifestyles in areas away from the tourist trail and spend some time on a pristine beach.
The clients: Mrs McKenna first got in touch with an e-mail outlining the plans of the holiday they were dreaming of. They had contacted another operator but were not satisfied that the style of hotels and overall experiences matched what they were seeking. We then set up a consultation call to run through their ideas, provide suggestions and practical advice and then agree on a blueprint for their itinerary. The parents were in their early 40s who had backpacked in their younger days, and they now wanted to return to Southeast Asia for the first time with their two active boys aged 8 and 10.
How we tailored the holiday: We suggested that the McKennas started their trip in Phnom Penh for several reasons. Firstly, there is a greater choice of airlines flying to the capital which would keep the cost down, and give more flexibility with departure times and the routing of the all-important international flights. Phnom Penh is also an ideal place to get over jetlag, with its great variety of restaurants and comfortable hotels to help with the culture shock. The hotel we recommended was I-Roha Garden, a laid-back heritage hotel with a spacious garden and swimming pool, and suggested a welcome dinner at Farm to Table, our favourite family-friendly restaurant in Phnom Penh which promotes organic farming methods and has a garden with an old tractor for kids to clamber about on. The activity we felt most suitable for the family in Phnom Penh was our Cycling on Silk Island experience, a leisurely ride around a river island that is home to a community of welcoming weavers.
For the wildlife experiences we suggested travelling east to Mondulkiri Province, to visit the Elephant Valley Project and if they felt adventurous enough to spend a night at the Jahoo Gibbon Camp in the jungle. Another family-friendly activity in the east of Cambodia is Kayaking with Mekong Dolphins, and this pairs perfectly with a stay at Relais de Chhlong, a former governor’s mansion now converted into a boutique hotel.
Moving on to the temple town of Siem Reap, the hotel which we thought fitted the bill was the Angkor Heart Bungalow – a small local style hotel with a family bungalow, and only a short walk from the attractions of pub street. To bring the temples to life for the kids we mentioned our interactive Angkor Scavenger Hunt, along with a hike up to see the river-bed carvings at Kbal Spean and a visit to the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), a wildlife conservation centre that is home to a range of rescued animals including monkeys, pangolins, civets, leopard cats and boars. Siem Reap has a great choice of activities and entertainment away from the temples, and for the McKenna family we thought that Zip-lining at Angkor would suit their active young boys, and for an entertaining and thought-proving evening experience the Phare Cambodian Circus was well worth a visit.
There are a number of luxurious beach resorts on the Southern Islands of Cambodia, but we felt that these might lack the authentic style the McKennas were searching for. Our recommended option was therefore the Long Set Resort, a comfortable mid-range resort on an undeveloped stretch of white sand beach on Koh Rong Island. One of the benefits of this choice is that, unlike some of the more upmarket options elsewhere on Cambodia’s islands, there are local bars and restaurants within walking distance of the property. This would allow the family the choice to explore the island independently, and also keeps the prices of the resort’s food and beverages at a more competitive level – an important factor for any family.
To break the long journey between the islands and Phnom Penh airport we included a stay at the Champa Lodge as the finale. This charming rural retreat is ideal for families and feels really off the beaten track and is the starting point for our Kayaking on the Kampot River experience – a perfect activity for the final day.