Believe it or not, we don’t just spin a globe or play drinking games to select the destinations for our vacations. Careful deliberation, name-calling and hair-pulling goes into the selection of every trip.
Okay, in truth, the process is based on a number of factors:
Input from guests
In annual surveys and occasional social media posts, we ask guests where they would like to see us go. We also maintain an “influencer” group of past guests who we poll for their opinions on proposed trips. (If you’re a past guest who would like to join the group, just let us know.) These give us a valuable window into the ever-changing interests of our travelers.
Brand g strives to offer top value in our 4.5 and 5-star vacations, and luckily, our bargaining power as a company has increased dramatically over the past 7 years, as we’ve gone from offering 1 vacation a year to 11. (We are NOT in this business to make a bunch of money and get out. Travel is our passion, and we’re content to make far-from-glamorous livings.)
But – like all travel companies, big and small – we’re still affected by outside factors, like:
- Fluctuations in exchange rates. The Euro, for example, has dropped from $1.35 five years ago to $1.15 now. The British pound dropped (following the Brexit vote) from $1.50 to $1.25, and remains there. Changes like these enable us to lower prices or offer additional all-inclusive elements (like unlimited adult beverages – you’re welcome).
- New local tour operators. When new local hosts enter a destination and competition heats up, prices can drop. Although we never employ brand new host companies (we require substantial, A+ track records from our local operators), we certainly take advantage of the opportunity for lower local costs.
- On the flip side, there are destinations that will always be pricey, like Antarctica and the Galapagos, where tourism is severely restricted in an effort to preserve the natural environment. We certainly support their commitment to ecology, but it does result in higher costs for travelers, and there’s nothing any travel supplier can do to change that. So, as incredibly memorable as they are, we only offer trips to these locales occasionally.
Obviously, the ever-changing geopolitical climate can create hot spots where we’ll choose not to go. Egypt is a good example: the unstable political situation there makes it a bit too risky to travel to the land of the pyramids.
With that said: the U.S. State Department issues travel advisories for countries around the world; and these days, most countries have one. So, you have to parse the language. Low-level travel advisories basically just mean, “something could happen somewhere, at some time”. It hardly means the country is in the midst of a civil war. To give you some perspective, for citizens of many other countries around the world, the U.S. has a travel advisory.
Last year, while we were in South Africa, Zimbabwe had a coup. We were scheduled to travel there the next day. And while we were in constant contact with the State Department, there was really nothing to worry about, since we were traveling to Victoria Falls, hundreds of miles from the capital where the (bloodless) coup occurred. The trip, of course, went off without a hitch – you’d never even have known anything was going on.
Creating a Balanced Selection
We don’t want to be a company of purely European river cruises, or of solely exotic land tours. Each year, we try to find a balance between the countries we visit and the types of vacations we offer. Some will be river cruises with a pre- or post-cruise hotel component (primarily in Europe); some will be exotic land tours (in various locales around the world, from Japan to Ireland to Africa to Northern Asia); some will be combos of a river cruise and substantial land tour, like our trips to India, the Amazon/Macchu Picchu, and Vietnam/Cambodia.
Due to their popularity, a handful of our vacations are offered every year. But we also strive to offer at least two or three new destinations or travel experiences each year. This variety makes it easier for our well-traveled guests to find an itinerary or experience that matches their needs, and causes them to swear their undying allegiance to Brand g and keep pictures of us under their pillows.
If you need a photo, just let us know.