Recommend March 2013 - (Page 12)
a passion for asia
deserae del campo
More and more tour companies are offering itineraries that cater to
small groups, but ever since it launched in the early 1990s, tour operator Travel Indochina, which specializes in tours to the vast continent of Asia, has known that keeping it small is a formula that works.
“Our groups have an average of 12 travelers and a maximum of
16 on any journey,” says Mark Yacker, North America director for
Travel Indochina. “This small group size allows for more ﬂexibility and
intimacy than larger groups.”
In fact, about 60 percent of travelers choose the company’s Small
Group Tours, and regardless of the group size, 90 percent of Travel
Indochina’s tours will run, no matter the number of persons booked.
Most departures only require a minimum of two to four travelers to
operate, and approximately 30 percent return to Travel Indochina
within two years to do another Asia-bound trip.
Travel Indochina ﬁrst started offering travel journeys to destinations like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the early 1990s. Today,
the company has matured with more than 70 itineraries in 11 different countries within the continent.
Yacker says there are a few traits that set Travel Indochina apart
from other tour operators: They are true Asia specialists operating
in the region for almost 20 years; they boast a team of professional
Western tour leaders and local guides; and they specialize in genuinely small-group size itineraries.
He goes on to explain that the tour operator’s main clientele are in
their 40s, 50s and 60s, well traveled and looking for a quality itinerary, comfortable accommodations and an experience that depicts
Asia’s diverse culture. They are also interested, he says, in meeting
new people and savoring the local cuisine.
“We see a good mix of couples and solo travelers looking to share
their experience,” he adds, “and our range of Family Journeys offers
parents and grandparents the opportunity to open their family’s eyes
to this fascinating part of the world.”
Travel Indochina leads groups (as well as individual, tailor-made
tours and theme-based excursions) to places like Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Japan, Cambodia and Mongolia.
“Early on, we recognized that touring, regardless of the group
size, is not right for everyone, so Travel Indochina’s product team
got to work compiling an extensive collection of three-, four-, and
ﬁve-star accommodations, which can be packaged with privately
guided excursions that are handpicked by the traveler,” says Yacker.
Its 9- and 13-day Burma journeys, Burma Revealed, for example,
sell out at least six months in advance. On this itinerary, your clients
12 march 2013
12-13 TOUR TALK.indd 12
will get to explore the country like a local as they take a horsecart ride in Pagan, go on a train ride to Shwe Nyaung, do some
light trekking to the Pa-O villages in the hills beyond Inle Lake, or if
they prefer they can swim, cycle, visit an orphanage or even a local
Other itineraries that are popular include China, India and Thailand with itineraries such as the 15-day China Panorama tour and
the 14-day Highlights of Rajasthan tour in India.
“Although we have many itineraries that explore a single country,
our North American clients tend to want to visit multiple countries
on their Asian journey,” Yacker says. “Since opening our U.S. ofﬁce
in 2011, our 15-day Vietnam & Temples of Angkor and the 19-day
Indochina Explorer have been the most popular. These itineraries really connect people with the major destinations in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.”
While trekking through Asia, the group is never far from a Travel
Indochina ofﬁce. The tour operator has six operations ofﬁces and
numerous partner ofﬁces across Asia. Yacker says the satellite ofﬁces are essential to the tour operator’s success in crafting unique
itineraries, pinpointing exclusive activities, and delivering on-theground service.
Travel Indochina practices a thorough responsible travel policy,
which includes poignant initiatives such as working with, and contributing to, many Asian organizations. The tour operator also created a Tread Lightly booklet to help travelers be attentive of the impact
travel can have on local cultures and the environment.
“One example is the school program we set up to give students
the opportunity to train to become travel guides,” says Yacker. “Another is our partnership with an organization called Streets International, which provides a training program to help young Vietnamese
in Hoi An to become chefs, bartenders and wait-staff.”
The Street’s International Cafe is on every itinerary that includes
Hoi An. The group splits into smaller groups of three or four and
a student takes the travelers out of town to a local market where
Westerners are few and far between.
“The students take the clients through the market educating them
on some of the produce and local delicacies,” says Yacker. “Then
they return to the cafe where the group enjoys a drink on the terrace
and samples some of the food just discovered in the market.”
Sounds like the type of itinerary a small group can appreciate. ●
Travel Indochina: (800) 342-1957; travelindochina.com
2/20/13 2:43 PM
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend March 2013
Editor's Notes/Agent Speak
Hotel Desk: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Tour Talk: Travel Indochina
Safaris in Southern Africa
Un-Cruise Adventures in Alaska
Alaska is Celebrating in 2013
"Hard Rock" Chicago-Style: Rock out in the Windy City
Mexico Destination Weddings & Honeymoon Planner
Girldfriends' Getaway at Eden Roc, Miami Beach
Kyushu: The Rising Sun of Japanese Destinations
The New All-Inclusives in Jamaica Claim Their Turf
RIU Punta Cana
Costa Rica: A Trio of Detours
Touring Central & Eastern Europe
Recommend March 2013