This month we interviewed Joseph Grimley, Agency Sales Manager for Riviera Travel
Are you a new Tour Operator?
No, we have been around for 28 years. Up until 2012, we have distributed exclusively through newspaper promotions in the Telegraph Group, the Times, The Daily Mail, BBC and IPC magazines amongst many other well-known companies. In fact we are now the UK’s largest such supplier of media endorsed holidays to the national press, and will carry over 90,000 people on our holidays this year.
What types of holidays do you offer your customers?
We organise and operate high-quality escorted holidays, short breaks by Eurostar, river and sailing ship cruises.
What makes your holidays special?
We truly believe in creating the experience which enables our customers to get the most out of each destination. We carefully put together itineraries which provide a perfect blend between organised sightseeing excursions to the iconic and more unusual sights, but also plenty of time to make your own discoveries, or simply relax.
For example – On our Rome tour, instead of squashing all of the sights into one day, as most tours do, we spread the Baroque and the Ancient sights over 2 half days, leaving the afternoons free. Much more civilised!
Our Tour Managers are extremely popular with our customers. They clearly love the destinations they go to – it’s a passion, not just a job. You’ll learn far more from our Tour Managers than you would from many guidebooks – and their enthusiasm and intimate knowledge will bring your holiday to life.
Is it true that you include rail connections to London on your short breaks by Eurostar?
Yes. Our buying power enables us to include rail connections to London on many dates, from 30 regional UK stations. For example, you can jump on a train in Newcastle upon Tyne and spend 3 nights in Bruges, including various organised excursions, from as little as £249pp. I think the train fare to London from Newcastle alone would cost well over £100pp!
We feature short breaks by Eurostar to Paris, Bruges, Normandie, Provence, Loire Valley & Monet’s Garden and Moselle Valley.
There are some stations which carry a supplement of between £10 and £50, but most are free.
River Cruising is getting more and more popular, but some people worry that they may be the only Brits on board. Is this the case?
All of our river cruises are exclusively sold through Riviera Travel in the UK and Ireland. We charter our own vessels, which gives us the luxury of being able to carefully plan our itineraries and tailor our program to the UK market. All onboard commentary etc will only be in English, and you are hosted by our onboard cruise team made up of 2 of our Tour Managers, and our own Cruise Director.
Our vessels are all 5 star and 4 star superior, so you will cruise the majestic waterways of Europe in the utmost comfort and style, taking your grand floating hotel with you. All meals are included and our programme of excursions is also in the price, so you can do as much or as little as you wish.
Riviera Travel has won many awards recently. Which one are you the most proud of?
We are extremely proud of all of the awards we’ve won. When the readers of the Telegraph voted us ‘Favourite Tour Operator’ in 2011 we were ecstatic. However, our most recent award by the readers of Which? Magazine, the voice of probably the country’s most respected not-for-profit consumer organisation, has made us particularly proud. Indeed, we beat all the nationally known companies to be voted the ‘UK’s Best Escorted Tour Operator’, and given ‘Recommended Provider’ status.
However, we are firm believers that we are only as good as our last tour and you have our sincere promise that we will never, ever forget the values which have earned these wonderful awards. We have no intention of ‘resting on our laurels’ and promise even more fascinating destinations, better quality and service, and will always offer superb value for money.