Years in the making: behind the scenes of your Audley trip
When you take a trip with us, we plan so it unfolds seamlessly and your enjoyment is entirely effortless. Before you pick up the phone to call us for the first time, we’ve spent years getting to know the destination and its people, to ensure you have a trip that you’ll remember. It’s a tried-and-true process we’ve used throughout our 25 years.
It begins with you
Our decision to offer trips to a new destination begins with you. We listen to where you want to go, whether that’s a place you want to visit or an experience you want to try. From Scandinavia to private stays to Greek islands, everything we do is driven by hearing from you.
Gathering experts and visiting the first time
Again, we start with you. We know you share our passion for travel because you’re always happy to talk about places and experiences you’ve loved over the years. Those stories of past trips, collated from dozens or hundreds of clients, often form the heart of our research.
Then, we look to our own experts. Everyone at Audley is passionate about travel and many members of our team have a deep knowledge of a destination they’ve experienced through their own travels. They give us a place to start by suggesting hotels, experiences and out-of-the-way spots that they loved when they visited or lived there. They’ll also suggest experts we can meet in the country to learn more. With that information in hand, we visit the country for the first time, often several years before we offer it to you. We then return many times, in all seasons, to be sure we understand how the destination feels no matter when you want to go.
Meeting the people
Personal connections are the beating heart of every trip we create, so we make those the heart of our research trips, too. The first people we meet are our partners, including guides, hoteliers and drivers. We look for people with a deep passion for their community and an unrivalled knowledge of their country.
From there, they introduce us to other people who can help us dig deeper into a country’s character. Sheep farmers raising heritage breeds to make small-batch cheese. Art experts who can help us navigate sprawling museums. Oenophiles who might point us to a small family vineyard where they still hand-turn the bottles in the cellar. Captains who offer private tours of archipelagoes. Or a family on a rural farm who are willing to welcome you into their home to share a meal.
These connections strike a powerful chord with us. Plenty of the Audley team have been recruited on these trips, and we’ve made many friendships that continue to this day.
Trying out new experiences
Having met the people, we try the experiences they’re recommending. We’ll test out half-a-dozen photographers before settling on the one who offers the best sunrise photography tour and make many, many momos before choosing the most informative cooking class.
Sometimes we can’t find a tour that really gets to the heart of a place, so we’ll create it. Scott, from our Europe team, decided that, to really understand the character of Brussels, a walking tour of the city should include some brewery visits. He found a guide who shared his passion for Belgian lambics and together they created one of our most popular tours in the city.
We know these experiences are central to your trip, and we work hard to make them as compelling as we can. Sometimes, we succeed beyond our wildest imagination. One of our visitors to Africa changed her entire career after gorilla trekking. Another enjoyed his wine tasting so much that he bought the vineyard.
Hand-picking the hotels
Visiting hotels is a vital part of our research. We look at every room type, check out every pool and restaurant, and chat with the staff members. For waterfront hotels, we walk across the beach in bare feet to make sure we can properly convey just how soft the sand feels underfoot. It’s a rough job, but we persevere.
We also take the time to explore the area around the hotel. Does the unassuming building next door become a noisy dance club once the sun sets? Is the walk to the train station a scenic stroll, with smooth surfaces for rolling suitcases, or a treacherous trek over potholes? These factors might not disqualify a hotel if we like it enough, but we’ll work to find ways to mitigate the problems, whether that’s only using rooms inside the quiet courtyard or arranging transport for your luggage.
Finally, our safety team checks every hotel to ensure you’re safe.
A well-crafted route between destinations can make the difference between a great trip and a spectacular one. But what defines a ‘best’ route varies, depending on your personal preference and time constraints. You might want to relish the journey, taking your time to admire the scenery and linger at that interesting temple on the way, while others may plan to get from one place to another as fast as possible. We map out both options.
We also test train and ferry connections, time the drive to the airport and figure out all the other practical information you’ll need to get around seamlessly.
Selecting the best of the best (and coming back for more)
After all our exploring, we choose the best of what we’ve seen and experienced to offer to you.
And, right away, we start planning when we’ll revisit for our next research trip. We return regularly to make sure our information is up to date and to keep rekindling our specialists’ passion for the destination. Additionally, we’ll keep looking for new ways for you to experience and explore the country.
We’ll start refining our trips immediately, based on your experiences. On one of our wine tours we noticed that clients were often a bit late to a particular stop because they enjoyed the wine at the previous vineyard so much, so we built in extra time there.
Only then do we talk to you
‘Getting to share a new destination with a client is one of the best things about being an Audley specialist. When I get to talk about Switzerland with someone for the first time, it feels like falling in love with it all over again.’
Madeline, Europe specialist
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