Greetings from Zurich, Switzerland!
I'm en route to Paris to meet the members joining us for the first leg of our France Kaleidoscope program in Normandy, and I'm thrilled to be getting back on the road with our community.
I had the immense pleasure in the past few days of spending time with some very good friends of mine, many of whom will be hosting Wheel & Anchor trips in the weeks and months to come.
With me was Alfie and Lily, who are co-hosting our Tuscany LiveAway that begins today(!); Renata, who will be co-hosting and captaining one of the houseboats for part III of our France Kaleidoscope program on the Canal du Midi; and Amber, who is hosting our Adriatic Coast program that starts in just a few days.
We had a very good têtes-à-têtes in a tiny village in Austria, sharing tips and protocols and generally just indulging in the excitement of adventures to come. It was lots of fun and the perfect way to segue into our October programs.
I get asked fairly regularly how we choose our hosts - and how we find such great ones! - so I thought I'd give you most of the 'Colonel's Secret Recipe' this week.
I think it comes down to this - if you had to boil Wheel & Anchor down to its core essence, we're really about great trips, great hospitality, and great people.
In my mind these are probably the biggest 'x factors' that influence how good a travel experience can be, and the first step in getting the people factor right is picking a great host.
I have found over the years that the most interesting hosts tend not to be career tour hosts, but rather people who live interesting lives pursuing their passions and that also like to travel. I also look for people who have some background in hospitality, so they are aligned with Wheel & Anchor at a deep level.
As for the selection criteria - first, our hosts are all quite well-travelled, both on their own and with other travellers. Group travel presents a completely different series of challenges than travelling alone, even when following a prepared itinerary, and it's important that our hosts have a firsthand feel for the dynamics of group travel.
Secondly, our hosts are all very organized people. It goes without saying that it behooves one to be organized when travelling, and this is 1000x more important when you are
Thirdly, they are all savvy and quick-thinking on their feet, and thus prepared for the inevitable curveballs travel throws at us on occasion. A certain unflappability in the face of chaos is a trait you'll find our in people.
And lastly, though it hardly needs to be mentioned...all our hosts are true people people! We're all here to share in the joy of travel with you, and we believe the very act of sharing the experience enhances it for us all.
I'd also like to mention that while some other companies in the travel business don't compensate their hosts, we do compensate ours. I believe this is a more ethical practice, and it ensures the integrity of the Wheel & Anchor standard of both trips and trip hosts.
Anyhow, that's 93% of the Secret Recipe to Hosting, with the rest locked away in a mountain cave high up in the Himalayas. I'm eternally grateful to have met such wonderful people on my journey in life, and I'm excited for you to meet them on one of our upcoming trips.
Speaking of trips - I'm delighted to release a spectacular adventure around Iceland this week, happening in July 2023. We'll first spend a few nights in Reykjavik exploring the southern part of Iceland, before we embark upon an expedition vessel to circumnavigate the country.
The vast majority of Iceland is rugged, uninhabited, breathtaking natural beauty, and thus it's actually quite challenging to get to see the highlights further afield than Reykjavik. This is primarily the reason I selected an expedition cruise, so that we can get to the most remote and incredible parts of the island that most travellers never make it to.
Beyond that, we've got a webinar next week for our 2023 Scandinavia and the Baltic Capitals program, which also happening next summer. Do join us for that should you be interested.
So, for now I shall bid you adieu, and I look forward to sharing some stories from our October programs with you next week from Normandy.