PASTORS SEEK OUT SPECIALIST AGENTS vs. GENERALIST.
February 19, 2018
Several of our pastor/tour clients have recently told us how much they appreciate our hands-on experience in Israel and other destinations we specialize. At Ed Hill Tours, we believe these comments point out the need for specialization in a tour company/travel professional. One pastor stated, “I believe more pastors are understanding the need to work with a tour company that specializes in certain destinations and not just a general travel agent.” In our years in operation, we’ve even known of individuals with no professional travel experience who simply decided to call themselves a tour company.
So I believe pastors are looking for a destination or product-focused specialist, not simply a local travel agent with no “on-the-ground” experience at specific destinations such as Israel, Greece, or other “Christian-interest” destinations.
One seasoned Christian tour leader noted, “Education and experience soon weeds out part-time adventurists trying to be travel professionals. I’ve found that expertise and service are the most important factors in choosing a travel management company.” With over 55 years of experience in Christian group travel, Ed Hill Tours obviously did not just “decide to be travel professionals.” Israel has been our #1 destination since 1962, and through the years our owners and staff have personally accompanied hundreds of groups.
Safety is a major issue in today’s world. Ed Hill Tours has always believed that not only must we be knowledgeable of the touring aspects of various destinations, but of the safety issues at those destinations as well. With over 5 decades of experience in Christian group travel, we doubt that anyone can match our first-hand knowledge of actual conditions and safety factors at the destinations we specialize in. As Christians who own a tour company that organizes Christian group travel, we believe in absolute honesty with our clients. That is why we do not recommend travel to some destinations. Yet although some who only watch news reports may believe that Israel is a dangerous place, we wholeheartedly encourage travel to Israel. According to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, more than 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, and NOT ONE was killed or to our knowledge, harmed in any way.
The influence of the Internet on today’s travel. There are legitimate good deals on the Internet, and there are many times we recommend that prospective clients, usually individuals, purchase their air or cruise tickets on the Internet. Yet, buyers should also beware of misleading and false information, bait and switch tactics, and pay close attention to the “fine print.” Many so-called Travel Deals on the Internet are simply “click bait” – a “deal” that is no longer available, or possibly never was. These “come-on” prices lead to the complicated process of determining and adding the necessary options, extras, airline-imposed charges, or taxes; all of which will significantly increase the cost. One tour company advertises a Pastors FAM Tour for about $500 less than ours. (By the way, they use lower level hotels, have a shorter itinerary, etc). But upon checking out their fine print, you find that the price they advertise in large print price does not include the Airline Fuel Surcharge of $700! Ed Hill Tours will not engage in bait and switch advertising even if we lose some business to operators who use this tactic to lure customers who do not read the fine print.
Our role at times has been to untangle all the information and misinformation, and narrow down a client’s options. A recent article in a national travel magazine stated, “a good travel professional’s role can be to sift through the maze of so-called deals online and truly find clients the best value and make sure they get what they pay for.”
Nothing beats years of first-hand experience at any destination. In Christian group travel, no destination is more popular than Israel, and no one has done it longer, and consistently does it better than Ed Hill Tours.