With its 2013 Europe and Britian catalog just released, Insight Vacations is eagerly looking forward to a fantastic upcoming year. The company, which only offers premium, four- and five-star product, will visit 42 countries around the continent during 2013, with over 1,000 departures covering the gamut from the U.K. to Eastern Europe, and from Iceland to Italy.
“Yes,” says Insight Vacations president Marc Kazlauskas, “it’s going to be a great year for travel to Europe.”
That, then, would probably be why the company has rolled out four new itineraries in the area. Added to the catalog, agents will now find three new Gold Itineraries—a 10-day Gaelic Treasures in Ireland, a 9-day Celtic Treasures in Scotland, a 10-day Spanish Gold in Spain—and one additional Premium Itinerary, a 10-day Highlights of Portugal.
Gold and Premium itineraries are differentiated—just barely—by their levels of luxury. While Premium tours feature four- and five-star hotels and restaurants, Gold level tours can expect nothing but the best, going five-star luxury all the way.
About the newly introduced itineraries, Kazlauskas says, “They’re all great destinations—you can’t go wrong in any one of them. But for me, I would probably say Portugal is my favorite, only because Portugal is such a nice surprise. Most people go there with low or no expectations and they’re really blown away by the people, the food, the architecture, the culture; it really is a great destination that most people don’t know about, then they travel there and say, ‘Oh wow.’ That’s how I felt too, the first time I traveled there.”
Guests on an Insight tour can expect to experience all of those things and more. Insight tours are all guided by a tour director, better known by the company as a Traveling Concierge, who travels with guests from beginning to end. “We think they’re the best in the business,” says Kazlauskas. “They’re there to impart their knowledge and enthusiasm about the destination that they’re showing the clients, and they’re there to guide the clients and give advice and tell them where to go and where not to go. They really bring the destination to life for the clients that travel with us.”
In addition to that, Insight takes pride on including all of the must-sees and must-dos of any destination. “These are things people dream of, and with Insight, it’s included.” For instance, in Paris, guests are taken to the Eiffel Tower; in Venice, they enjoy a gondola ride; and in Rome, they not only visit the Vatican, but they also enjoy a private tour of the Bramante Staircase—a tour exclusive to Insight Vacations and its sister companies. “It’s kind of like the back door to the Vatican. It’s something you couldn’t do by yourself. It’s a really special inclusion you get with Insight that’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime ‘wow’ moments.”
Add to that the accommodations. On both Gold and Premium itineraries, clients are guaranteed a hotel that’s either in town or city-center, or if there is no city-center—for instance, in the Lake District of England—it offers the most scenic view possible.
“We really are probably the best way to see a destination, because we show you the destination like a local. And that is key to why you’d want to take an escorted tour, because we really do show you the destination the way you could never do it on your own, or the way you could never get it on a cruise line.
“It’s no question that cruising is a great vacation, but there’s no way that you can experience a destination on a cruise the same way that you can experience it on a tour, because you’re seeing a peripheral; you’re only spending a day in a town, where we’re spending two, three or four nights in a city. And frankly,” Kazlauskas continues, “Europe comes alive at night, and that’s normally when the cruise passengers go back to the ships. With Insight, you’re sitting in that bistro in Paris, or you’re sitting in St. Marks Square in Venice, experiencing musicians and the locals at night. You’re in Vienna at night when the city comes alive—that’s when you meet the people, that’s when the streets become vibrant, that’s when you really feel the energy. With Insight, we’re there, we’re right where the action’s happening.”
As far as booking is concerned, he says agents have it easy. “We’ve got 10 sales managers placed throughout the country, and they’re there to help travel agents. That’s their whole job—they can help with marketing, with presentations, with how to sell Insight, with product knowledge, with who to target.”
To expand on that last tidbit, Kazlauskas says, “Our clients tend to be well-traveled, they tend to be customers that are empty-nesters, they tend to be fairly affluent, and they tend to be people who have maybe visited Italy on their own once and have decided, ‘You know, I want someone to show me around. I don’t want to look at guide books and do planning with maps; I don’t want to research. I want to be taken care of, I want it done for me and I want to really get a feel for the real Italy.’ Those are the customers that tend to take Insight.”
In addition to the sales managers, Kazlauskas shares that this upcoming year’s prices have come down since 2012. “That will help agents as well, because there’s such tremendous value in selling Insight now. We come back to the fact that we know, from agents and customer feedback, that we’re the best product for the best price.”
But if there’s one thing Kazlauskas stresses, it’s the importance of booking early. “There are three reasons we’re pushing this. One is because you’re gonna get the best deal by booking early. We’ve got a deal right now that can save couples up to $1,920 per couple—that’s huge savings. The second thing is you take advantage of the better, lower air rate, and the third reason is if you don’t book early, you may not get the departure or the tour date you’re looking for.” Based on the company’s projections for the upcoming year, he says, “We’re already seeing great demand, and we think they’re gonna sell out.”
The best Book Early savings are available through Dec. 27, and can be realized by booking and paying in full before that date. Following that, additional Book Early deadlines will be staggered through the year, but according to Kazlauskas, “The best deal of the season is to book by Dec. 27.”
Insight Vacations’ Europe and Britain itineraries are available with lengths from eight to 32 days, and tours are limited to no more than 40 guests. For more information, call (888) 680-1241 or visit insightvacations.com or the agent site at insightvacations.com/us/user/log-in.