Creating unforgettable travel itineraries must surely be the dream profession.
We sought the insights of one of Scenic’s Journey Designers to find out what it’s like to plot the perfect travel plan for tens of thousands of people.
Louise Hill shares her story.
How many times a week do people say ‘you must have the best job in the world?’
[Laughing] Every time I tell people what I do …
How would you explain what a Journey Designer does?
When you tell people you work in the travel industry, they automatically say ‘oh, you are a travel agent?’.
I explain that I am the person who puts everything together that you get to see and do when you travel with Scenic, from the itinerary design, the hotels and cruises, to the activities and each and every menu for all included meals and more.
What is involved in piecing together a new itinerary?
I have more than 20 years in the travel industry with experience from tour directing, to operations and logistics, tour design and more. However, creating a new itinerary is a form of art. I will have an idea of what I want to create and then I piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle.
It will involve research first … how to get there, when is the best time to go and how to move around. Then I will go and investigate what other bits I can include to make it extra special; the Scenic Freechoice activities, the special Scenic Enrich experiences and more which is the fun part!
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Travel habits and trends are always changing, do you modify itineraries over time?
We constantly monitor and review our guests’ feedback as well as the feedback from our Tour and Cruise Directors to make sure that our itineraries are always the best. We may not necessarily change a successful itinerary in terms of stops but we may change the shore excursions, add new ones and remove any that are not as popular with our guests or do not rate well in terms of guest satisfaction.
It is a constantly evolving environment and very dynamic and that is what makes it so interesting.
On a personal level, what itinerary are you most proud of and why?
Patagonia is relatively unknown as a destination and has so much magic to offer.
And having lived in both Egypt and Jordan as a Tour Director, I have a great understanding of the destination and how to slow down the pace so that you can really experience it.
The antiquities and natural wonders are almost overwhelming but the people, culture and human history is intangible and you need time to discover it.
How much does guest feedback influence your decision-making?
One-hundred percent, it’s one of the main reasons why Scenic is so successful because we truly listen to our guests and value their feedback.
Scenic Eclipse is an extremely exciting addition to the world of travel. Do you believe the concept of ‘the discovery yacht’ heralds the start of a new era of travel?
Yes – it is exciting to take the concept of what Scenic offers onto the world’s oceans because it is different to what everyone else does.
We have the most innovative and luxurious yacht, our itineraries are different to other cruise companies, we include more for our guests, we have exciting shore excursions that have all been handcrafted.
In some locations, we also have our special once-in-a-lifetime Scenic Enrich experiences, plus we have an amazing helicopter and submarine to open up even more of the world.
Was this the most ambitious/rewarding project you have been involved in? And what can people expect from a Scenic Eclipse experience?
What can I say – when I started my career in travel I would not have thought that I would help launch this exciting product, to be involved in getting permits for Scenic Eclipse to cruise to Cuba and more. It really has been an amazing journey.
I think guests will be amazed by their first Scenic Eclipse voyage – and will then happily plan their next cruise and destination on the voyage calendar!
And shore excursions?
For ocean cruising on Scenic Eclipse, we don’t have any patterns yet about what guests will select [Scenic Eclipse launches January 2019]. However, we have chosen the shore excursions based on our guests’ profiles and we also include each destination’s unique activities as one of the activities for guests to select.
Finally, what makes a great Journey Designer?
You are designing the holiday of a lifetime, so you need to have passion, compassion, an understanding of the cultures of the regions you are visiting, plus hands-on knowledge and experience in the destination and logistics to link all the pieces together. You also need a sense of humour!
Most of all you need to have a team spirit because what truly makes a great tour designer is the person who can design and then bring the whole team together (from sales, reservations and marketing to operations, the delivery team on the ground, the suppliers and more) to deliver the land or cruise journey of a lifetime for guests.
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