Published on July 4, 2012 by Barbara Fang
We were thrilled to get a chance to chat with Hugh Clayson who is Product Director for Titan Travel. Here is what we talked about:
Titan Travel guarantees a low price with early bookings. Some people (myself included) tend to start planning too early, while others plan too late. In general, when do you think is the ideal time for travellers to begin planning their holidays?
In general it is better if the traveller can plan and book early. Not only does this give the longest time to enjoy that magical sense of anticipation one gets when one books a holiday but also ensures the best choice of departure date, (or cabin selection in the case of an ocean or river cruise) and the lowest early booking prices. With Titan, the earlier you book, the lower the price you will pay – and if we do subsequently reduce a holiday price to below what they paid (net of all discounts received), our industry-leading price promise means we refund the difference plus reduce the price by a further £20 per person.
There are many different types of traveller; from explorers who prefer to plan every detail and adventure themselves, to vacationers who prefer everything to be done for them in advance. Tell us about the advantages of booking escorted holiday tours.
Escorted tours take all the worry out of travel – and put all the enjoyment in! This is not just a slogan – it’s true. All the planning has been carried out by our product experts, Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service makes getting from home to the airport and back a relaxing, enjoyable experience, our airport team take all the hassle out of navigating through the busy London airports (including carrying your bags to the check-in area) and each tour group is accompanied by an experienced and expert Titan Tour Manager who not only manages all the logistics of the tour, but also provides fascinating insights and commentary to enhance the clients’ enjoyment. Titan is well known for the exceptional quality of its tours; not only the precise organization and administration, but crucially the selection of mainly 4* hotels, first class coaches and included excursions at the key points of interest. Finally, Titan’s escorted tours are designed for like-minded British travellers to enjoy the benefits of group travel yet still have complete freedom to be independent if they wish.
An escorted tour enables the traveller to see more of a region in a shorter space of time than they could on their own. For example, you can certainly try to drive yourself on a tour of say California, but when you take into account the great distances to cover, the navigation, booking hotels etc., you will see more and gain a greater insight on a Titan escorted tour – plus have an expert driver to do the driving!
With such a diversity of travel and tour options, you have surely been on some unique adventures. What is one of your most memorable travel experiences?
This year I was lucky enough to join a Titan group on our “Wild Plains of Tanzania” tour, enjoying a safari in the Serengeti National Park. One day a client spotted a leopard on a branch in a tree. We were completely alone, three 4 x 4 vehicles, 15 travellers and the leopard. The vehicles stopped, cameras started clicking and in the next half an hour (it felt much longer) the leopard literally walked from his tree and without fear came within a few feet of the vehicle – a private show in the remote and beautiful Serengeti. The clients joked that Titan had somehow pre-arranged this for them! The atmosphere was electric – so exciting.
Being nominated for the British Travel Awards is an achievement in itself. Having been operating since the 1970s, what do you do to stay up to date and successful in the tour industry?
We believe firmly in delivering the very best customer experience, from the moment a client calls us to the time they return home from their holiday. Titan’s exclusive and unique VIP Home Departure Service that collects clients from their front door from every address in mainland UK is an essential ingredient as is constant focus on quality and innovation with many new tours and product enhancements on an ongoing basis.
For travellers heading abroad for the first time, there are more matters to deal with than when travelling locally. What advice do you have to ease pre-travel jitters?
Titan is perfect for first time travellers, as with us they are fully escorted from the moment they leave their front door. First timers might be a bit apprehensive – and travelling with a group of like-minded people makes the whole experience less daunting and enjoyable. My advice is once you have been on your first trip, you will never look back.
Many holiday makers have a hard time balancing relaxation and adventure. How do your tour packages reconcile these two contrasting elements of holidays?
Titan’s itineraries enable the traveller to see the very best of the area they are visiting in one well-planned journey. We balance each day with included sightseeing and time at leisure, thus allowing reflection, relaxation and time for independent exploration. We choose hotels for their location so that clients can explore the particular city easily themselves as well as joining an organized optional excursion. We do not shorten the duration of our tours to try to reduce the price as this would impact on the enjoyment of the experience.
What is the average size of a tour group?
On average, about 30 - 35 people per group.
Placing quality at such a high standard, what are the most important aspects you consider when planning a tour?
The hotels we use are key: their location, facilities, rooms and cuisine. Our hotels in Venice, for example, are located next to the Grand Canal or behind St Mark’s Square, whereas most other operators choose hotels away from the centre in order to offer a perceived lower price.
We have rigorous requirements to use only the best coaches and we only use direct, scheduled airlines (not low cost airlines or charter flights). We review all feedback from clients and tour managers and constantly update and amend our tours in light of comments received.
This year, our quality scores have been our best ever!
Having started in the 1970s, where did Titan Travel first start offering tours to?
We first began offering coach tours to Europe including the Dutch Bulb fields and Normandy. From there we quickly became one of the largest operators to Egypt and North America where we remain market leader today. Our portfolio now covers the world and all forms of travel: by road, rail, sea or river!
Have you noticed any trends occurring, in terms of the type of travellers you come across or a certain type of holiday people choose?
Travellers are becoming more adventurous, with destinations such as South America and Africa growing in popularity. We are also seeing strong growth in river cruising with our exclusive partnership with Uniworld – the world’s best river cruises. There is very much a trend for clients to upgrade where they realise the sheer enjoyment and life enhancing experience that is gained by paying that little bit extra on things like Rocky Mountaineer Goldleaf or a balcony cabin on a cruise. After all, they have worked hard all there life – they deserve a bit of luxury and the best view.
Do you have any exciting new destinations or specialised tours in the works?
We constantly review our existing products and add exciting, new tours to stimulate the traveller’s appetite.
We are about to launch a ‘once in a lifetime’ safari combining the incredible Okavango Delta with a Choebe River Safari and a few days at the Victoria Falls. Other recent new programmes include an incredible journey from Bombay to the Backwaters of Kerala, a new tour of Vietnam and three wonderful river cruises on the Rhine and the Danube – exclusively chartered for 2013 for Titan guests.
Travelling the world has become much more accessible today thanks to the internet. With an infinite amount of personal and professional advice, what important travel tips do you have to offer?
For me when I travel I like to understand the history of the area I am visiting. I will take a relevant travelogue written by a travel writer with me as well as a guide. I find this helps give a different insight into the area. I recently visited Yangtze River and found Simon Winchester’s: ‘River at the centre of the World’ a superb companion.
I also recommend to anyone travelling to relax, leave their life at home behind and become an explorer ready for exciting experiences. One of the great things about travel is discovering something new and meeting people with a completely different perspective on the world and life.