I have been travelling with Wells Gray Tours for three and a half years now as their mascot and living my travel dream. I love to be out on the road meeting wonderful people, and seeing so many interesting destinations. All of this travel has not been without some sacrifice; I have had to give up my annual hibernation time and hang on for dear life as I have dangled off cruise balconies, mountain ledges and tried to smile while sitting next to ferocious looking creatures. I do love it though, and feel very lucky!
I have turned on the computer today to write my second blog since starting with the company to share with you one of my favourite Wells Gray Tours events.
This week the entire Wells Gray Tours team gathered in Vernon for their annual fall planning meeting. While I have a clone of me in each office and each tour director has one of me, it is only twice a year that the entire team gets together. In addition, it was a great opportunity to meet some of our newest staff members.
- Laura McWilliam: Tour Director
- Pam Stewart: Operations Assistant
- Jill Cope: Sales & Reservations Manager
The fall meeting is always exciting. In the morning we deal with any ideas for streamlining office procedures and everyone’s input is valuable. Our Director of Sales and Marketing, Kerrie and her assistant Joan, are working on a couple of ideas to simplify our website so you will find things easier. For me, I would like to see a “Wally button” for destination ideas that you, our valued customer could use as a suggestion box for future tour ideas. The afternoon portion of the meeting is the most exciting part of our day. This is where we discuss new tour ideas, destinations and attractions.
- Current or repeated itineraries: The comments that you, our clients provide start the planning process for updating existing itineraries that we visit annually, such as Haida Gwaii, Leavenworth, etc. We look at the comments about hotels, restaurants, attractions and destination guides to come up with new ideas that will improve the overall tour experience.
- New Tour ideas: Destinations that clients are asking for are our number one consideration. Meeting your needs is one of our most important goals. If one or more destination is repeatedly asked, we begin exploring. If it is an area that we have done before such as South Africa or Bhutan, then the planning process is much easier than one that is brand new to us. If a tour is new to Wells Gray Tours, then the research begins with what industry opportunities are available to put a staff person on the ground in that destination to check out the hotels, restaurants, attractions and transportation. Ethiopia, Tanzania, and more recently the Trans-Siberian rail tour were all investigated in this way. Investigating destinations in this manner is not always possible, but we take advantage of opportunities whenever presented as it helps us determine how the tour should be rated for activity levels. Local transportation and guides are also important components. In January, Fraser will be off to explore Jamaica as a future destination.
The day was extremely busy and culminated in a fabulous dinner hosted by Wells Gray Tours. Over the next few months we will be moving ahead planning and researching your next exciting tour experience. I hope you will join me, Wally as we explore this fantastic world we live in!
Written by: Joan Niemeier