Lots of tour operators cite “experience” as a reason to book with them. But Goway Travel, which celebrates its 40th year in the business this year, gives the competition a run for its money. Since launching as a specialist in “under 30s” travel four decades ago, Goway has evolved into one of the largest tour operators in North America, serving up luxurious and exciting itineraries in far-flung destinations from Africa to the South Pacific—and adding a bit of luxury for agents, too, with marketing support and FAM trips galore.
a long way for luxury When Bruce Hodge launched Goway Travel in 1970, the company was dedicated to Africa and Asia touring, with the 30-and-under set in particular. But what a difference 40 years makes. Moira Smith, general manager, Africa, says that today, the company’s philosophy is much broader: “Goway as a company, has as a philosophy to specialize in long-haul exotic destinations,” she explains. “We have a very strong Asia department, but we also have a very strong South Pacific department.” In fact, she says, one of Goway’s more unique portfolios of destinations is its Idyllic Islands collection, including such exotic islands as Bali, Tahiti and the Maldives, where itineraries can be tailored to romantic escapes, adventurous diving excursions, or anything in-between.
In fact, she says, it’s that diversity of product in each destination that has helped to make Goway so popular. “One thing that sets us apart is our diverse product range, from high-end personalized independent arrangements to overland trips, train journeys, etc. We have product suitable for family trips, honeymoons, and adventure travel. And we can go from more mid-priced to high-end, like camping in luxury tents.” Luxury travelers in particular have plenty of options to choose from throughout each of Goway’s destinations, thanks to its Stays of Distinction portfolio of accommodations, including luxury tents like those at Singita Sabora Tented Camp in Tanzania. Chosen by experts in each destination, the hotels and resorts in Stays of Distinction make it easy for luxury clients and agents to narrow down their options when booking their tour, regardless of whether they’re familiar with the destination.
And that’s not the only time Goway’s expertise comes in handy. In fact, the biggest differentiating factor between Goway and the competition, Smith says, is “our expertise and experience. If you’re booking Africa, you can call our Africa Experts. The name says it all. My staff alone is comprised of a team who have lived and traveled extensively in Africa.” That expertise also leads to good decision-making when it comes to choosing reliable suppliers—an absolute must-have, Smith says, when your customers are traveling long distances. “The Goway philosophy is to [encourage] clients to come back to the agent, and come back to Goway, to further explore our destinations,” she explains. “What’s really important there is having quality product that’s tried and tested, and a key part of that is choosing the right suppliers. When you arrive at your destination 17 hours later, you need to know that you’re looked after and taken care of. If, God forbid, anything goes wrong, you need to have someone there to make things perfect.”
That’s ever more important as travelers set their sights on regions in a state of flux. Smith says that Egypt has become an up-and-coming destination for Goway, and that South Africa’s popularity has skyrocketed due to all the attention surrounding the 2010 World Cup. Capitalizing on the increased interest in destinations like these, Goway offers itineraries designed to introduce clients to these areas. Essence of Arabia, for example, lets clients spend seven days exploring sites like Muscat, Nakhl and Nizwa, with stops at sites including the Grand Mosque, the Amouage Perfumery and Bahla Fort, as well as plenty of time for shopping in the cities’ souqs. Rates start at $1,623.
happy birthday to you
That aforementioned philosophy seems to be working, because 40 years later, Goway is thriving. And to celebrate, the company is giving back to one very important part of its success: travel agents. The company is offering at least seven planned FAMs for 2010—a number that could increase as the year progresses—spanning its destinations from India to South America and more. The successful Ultimate South Africa FAM that debuted in 2009 with trips to Cape Town and its winelands, the Shamwari Game Reserve and Johannesburg, will be reprised this year (see Recommend’s November issue for more information). Agents can then return and sell a similar 13-day Ultimate South Africa itinerary starting at $4,085. But the biggest anniversary event, Smith says, will be a Downunder FAM for as many as 40 agents. “Four FAM trips [with 10 agents each] will converge to meet in Sydney for our Australasia celebrations,” she explains.