We are in the process of launching our new Premium and Gold brochures to Europe & the Eastern Mediterranean for 2013 – exciting times as these regions are hugely popular destinations for our guests.
At Insight we are genuinely passionate about creating great vacations. I know it seems easy to say, but we really do work tirelessly to ensure our guests enjoy the best of each destination in comfort and style. Our contracting teams and quality control staff monitor product delivery all the time but our guests input, through on-tour questionnaires, tour director reports and our travel forum is immensely important. I also catch up with guests and get direct feedback as often as I can and value everyone’s thoughts. This year I’ve travelled twice to India, met customers in London, on our Channel Islands tours, on our Swiss tours, French tours, on a USA tour, and I’ll be joining the 2012 Travel Forum tour in St Malo and Paris this September.
Here is a quick heads-up of what’s brand new, what’s changed and where we are going with product and destinations in 2013.
Firstly, we again visit 42 independent states in geographical Europe – more than any other operator. The only countries we don’t tour through are Andorra, San Marino, Kosovo and Moldova! So with Insight, you can travel from Iceland over 4300km (as the crow flies) to the Ukraine & Crimea; or from Russia’s Golden Ring (which combines perfectly with Easy Pace Russia) to our new 9 day itinerary of Portugal showcasing the best of this delightful country. There’s a new 3 day extension tour of the Battlefields of WWI, linked to 5 other ‘Discovery’ and ‘French’ tours; and we’ve completely re-designed our Gold luxury itineraries in Ireland, Scotland and Spain to bring you even better coverage of the destinations – they are absolutely superb. The Eastern Mediterranean remains a major part of our portfolio too, with no less than 9 itineraries that include Egypt; then there are multiple itineraries to Turkey, Greece, Jordan and Israel too. We’ve introduced another Premium vacation in Greece, combining classical touring with island-hopping to Santorini and Mykonos; this complements our Gold island-hopping by providing an alternate price-point. Our Grandeur tour is now one day longer with an extra night in Pamplona while our Heritage itinerary is one day shorter as it now flies from Athens to Italy instead of travelling by ferry.
We’ve also got an online-only tour section too. Check out our new Photography Tours, our Italian Wine tours, an art and culture tour from Paris to Barcelona covering the best and most culturally rich areas of France and Spain, plus our very own Travel Forum tour to Poland and Bohemia in 2014, and other itineraries that we’ll feature from time to time.
But at the heart of everything lies the fact that we have always seen it as incumbent upon us to spend your money wisely. Accordingly, each year we make various adjustments to improve guest experiences, including various routing or sightseeing changes to itineraries. We also always take a fresh look at our hotels to ensure we are providing the best and the most appropriate for each tour. 2013 is no exception and we are pleased to have made some major hotel upgrades across the programme.
I would specifically highlight improvements in tours of Britain – with four star upgrades in the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District, the South Coast and elsewhere. This has been a tough nut to crack but it is fair to say that these new hotels are impressive and will ensure our guests experience in the UK is the best ever, a world apart from other operators.
We’ve also made major hotel changes elsewhere – so much so that 67% of all Insight hotels are now Superior First Class or Deluxe (95% First Class to Deluxe), and 100% are central or scenic (the only exceptions being a couple of final night gateways specifically positioned for airport departures)!
But Insight’s superior quality and customer advantage doesn’t stop with hotels. We’ve also added some additional new experiential activities and special highlight evenings with dinner, wine and entertainment. To name just a few: there are wine tastings and vineyard visits to meet growers and wine experts; we include cookery demonstrations in Provence, in Guernsey and in Austria; and we have unique access with a new VIP entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with a special visit to the incredible Bramante Stairs (included on every Insight tour visiting Rome)
We also include more fabulous night-time excursions and evening entertainment…
A fiery Flamenco show with dinner and unlimited drinks is now included on every tour that visits Seville; there’s a new highlight dinner and operetta with the tenors in Rome; an elegant evening concert with dinner, waltzing, Mozart and Strauss in Vienna; a candlelit dinner and gondola serenade in Venice; a celebration dinner on the summit of Mt Stanserhorn in Switzerland; and dinners in renowned restaurants on the Left and Right banks of Paris.
Our Gold luxury tours are also growing strongly and product quality in 2013 is no exception. We have once again selected excellent luxury properties, many of them members of Leading Hotels of the World and Relais & Chateaux. They all feature outstanding service and guests will enjoy great dining and epicurean delights.
You’ll be pleased to know that nothing has changed with our established fundamentals of premium sightseeing experiences, smaller group size of a maximum 40 guests, reconfigured touring coaches with ‘business class’ legroom, desirable locations, Dine-Around evenings, Welcome Receptions with dinner, farewell Celebration Dinners, Club Bon Voyage drinks receptions and more…
If you are joining a UK or European multi-country tour in London, then you are almost certain to want an extra day to relax or explore after your long haul flight. Insight’s new ‘Bonus Day’ is the perfect solution – your Tour Director will be available the day before your tour departs the capital, to assist with check-in and sightseeing and, with lower-priced hotel accommodation for that night, it will be the best start to a perfect tour!
(N.B. North American travellers have London pre-packaged as part of their tour).
Lastly, we have a fantastic new Early Payment Discount for most UK & European tours. In the past it was time-limited by departure date, so many guests missed out. No longer! Everyone can make massive savings of 10% simply by paying in full before 27th December; 7.5% by paying before 28th Feb; and 5% by 30th April. The key message is that the earlier you book, the sooner your place is confirmed and the more you can save!
2013 Europe is due online this week in Australia and New Zealand, during early September in the USA and Canada and shortly thereafter in other countries.
To all Insight guests – past, present and future – I wish you every happiness and safe travels and we look forward to you joining us during the coming year.
PS. First time travellers may find our new ‘Fact File’ section useful. It is located at the back of the 2013 Europe brochure and contains various articles such as ‘Insight, Independent or Cruise?’ and ‘How to Read This Brochure’, as well as our hotel listings, ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, tour terminology, and much more. We will replicate online in due course.
PPS. Please also consider travelling to Europe during the Autumn, Winter and Spring months of November through March. You’ll have a fabulous time. The weather can be surprisingly mild, prices are excellent and it is usually a little less crowded. There are also lots of seasonal attractions, such as Christmas Markets, Pageants and January Sales – it is a fascinating time to travel.