Our future guests often ask me what our tours are going to be like, and I try to explain the feeling of ‘family’, and how it is so different than anything else out there. Oddly, it is a difficult thing to explain, especially since our future guests are little more than strangers on a phone line at first. But it is without question the number one reason for our success. After all, we get countless of word of mouth bookings. With all that is going on in the current economic meltdown and the fact that the travel industry is suffering so terribly, we aren’t feeling it at all. In fact, we are showing a 56% INCREASE over last year because of it.
So today I think I managed to find the best way to explain that sense of family. Not by explaining what it is like during the tour, but how it has changed our lives after tours. Here it is:
I came back to the US after the 2008 season last October. Four and a half months have passed since. In that time, we have not only stayed in contact with many of our past guests, but have seen them, stayed with them, and partied with them. Here is a rundown:
In late summer, while still in Italy, we went on a cruise (we get vacations, too) with past guests.
In November, a couple of past guests came to Florida. We had a wonderful dinner together.
In December we visited some past guests in Arizona. We stayed at their home for a few days and they had a wonderful party. Attending the party were 2 other past guests of ours, as well as a couple future guests of ours.
While we were in Arizona, we also spent a wonderful evening with yet another 2 past guests.
After the time in Arizona, I went to Los Angeles for some business, and wound up having dinner with yet two more past guests.
We spent New Year’s Eve with past guests (for the second year in a row).
In early January, we spent a week down in Cancun with past guests (the same that we had just spent New Years Eve with in Florida)
Later in January, some past guests came to Orlando and we had a wonderful dinner out with them.
In February I spent a few days up in New York for business. I stayed with past guests. While there, I spent a day with another past guest, and met another two past guests for dinner. All in all, guests from the separate past tours all met one another that day :-).
I even just went to a baseball game a few days back with some past guests!
To add to all of that, more than 100 of my Facebook friends are past guests, and both Paola and I are constantly e-mailing and talking to past guests. The reason? So many of our past guests are difficult to see as ‘past guests’. They just become friends and family.
That’s why we do what we do the way we do it. It doesn’t feel like work for us. It just feels like we are vacationing with friends… so it turns out that way.