We certainly live in an interesting time.
More and more companies are able to predict what their customers want. They track behavior, analyze it, and are seemingly able to know what you want to buy before you do.
It’s possible because they know what people similar to you have wanted in the past, and are able to predict that chances are good you’ll want the same thing.
Asaf Peled, owner of Shin Luxury Tours, wondered, “What would happen if the travel industry could do the same thing, but in a much more personal way”?
This thought birthed the idea of what he calls a Roots Trip. I sat down with Asaf and one of his top Travel Consultants, Adam Saville, to find out more.
Thank you Asaf for meeting with me. Can you tell me, what exactly is a Roots Trip to Israel?
Asaf: Ah, very good. Jewish families all over the world want to come to Israel, tour the country, see the sites, and have a fun family vacation all in the same trip. And there are lots of companies willing to help them do that, and they do a good job.
But when you come on a Roots Trip, the difference is how you leave the country. You won’t just have seen sights, you’ll have experienced them in unique and personal ways, that connect with you and move you.
Adam: That’s right. The culture here in Israel is so rich, that it’s not very difficult to guide someone through the country and ensure they have a great time. The challenge in our industry is now how do we get to know each member of the family or group we are guiding on a deep enough, individual level, that we can put together experiences that will truly move them.
So Adam, how exactly can you do that?
Adam: Well, my since my boss is sitting next to me I’ll have to be careful not to give away the secret recipe.
Asaf: [laughing] Yeah, be very careful Adam!
Adam: All kidding aside, it’s actually just a matter of intention. If you were planning a trip for someone close to you, and you wanted to make sure it was a trip they would never forget, you wouldn’t just bring them to various places. You would be intentional to use the places you brought them as a tool to connect to past experiences.
You would ask yourself “How are they going to respond when they get here? What feelings are they going to have? What can I do to make that experience even deeper?”
And you are able to do that for people that you’ve never met, when bringing them to a place they’ve never been to?
Asaf: Absolutely. Every Jew around the world is connected to Israel. It doesn’t even have to be for religious reasons.
The people looking to come to Israel are looking for connection to their heritage. A lot of times it’s not just for themselves, but for their children. We bring a lot of families on Bar and Bat Mitzvah trips because the parents want to pass on a part of their Jewish heritage to their kids, but they know they can’t do that as effectively back home.
Adam: And as far as never having met our clients, I’d say that’s not entirely true. Sure, we’ve never met in person, but in order for me to help a client plan a trip like what we’re talking about, it’s imperative that I take the time getting to know the likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, and backgrounds of every person that’s coming.
By the time I meet them in person for the first time, we feel like old friends. And that’s really the secret isn’t it?
What about the fun activities that all the popular tours advertise?
Asaf: Those are definitely a part of the trip. Even if you’re leading a group of academic scholars, they’re going to want to unwind with a beach day, hot air balloon ride, jeep tour through the countryside....
Adam: A float in the Dead Sea…
Asaf: That’s a popular one. But again, we can’t just assume where each group will want to go. If I took you to do all those activities we just mentioned, you would have a favorite experience.
Adam’s job is to find out what your favorite experience will be before you experience it, so that every day of your trip is more meaningful than the last.
What if you’re wrong, or things change once a group is physically here?
Asaf: As much effort as we put in to planning trips, things come up. Sometimes people want to make changes to their itinerary after it’s been set. Our goal isn’t to take you on the tour we planned, it’s to take you on the tour you want. So if things change in the middle of a trip, we do our absolute best to accommodate those changes.
If you think a tour is a product, then it becomes rigid. The features that were built into it, are the only features it has. I think of a tour more like an experience. It’s flexible. I can change it as needed to fit the people it was designed for.
We go through great lengths to make sure that every guide we hire thinks that same way. Our guides are constantly looking for ways to serve our clients.
Adam: One example of this is there was an older woman in one of our tours. It became unusually chilly that afternoon, and our guide noticed she was trying to keep herself warm by constantly rubbing her arms. Without being asked, he went and bought her a sweatshirt. She didn’t have to ask him to do that because he was being attentive to her needs,
Asaf: It is important to fulfil the dreams and desires of our clients, but it’s just as important for us to give them what they want even if they don’t know how to ask for it.
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It’s clear to me that Asaf and Adam are onto something in their approach to planning tours to Israel.
You can schedule a call with them here. As you can tell, they will take time to get to know you, and take care of all the details. Your biggest job will be coming with the expectation that you will go home “inspired by travel”, which is the company motto for good reason.