In this episode of MASTers of Travel, MAST President and COO John Werner sits down with Jennifer Halboth, Director of National Accounts for Globus Family of Brands, to discuss their latest product – Choice Touring. In this new touring style, Globus offers customers more flexibility, and more choices in their tours. There is something for the adventure traveler, options for foodies, and awesome nighttime activities. Tune in to discover your next great touring option! 

Key Points Mentioned In The Podcast

#1  Touring offers you options you didn’t even know you wanted

 “We give them the experience that they didn’t even know they were coming for that they go home and talking about.”

#2 – After 2020 people want flexibility in travel

 “And the element that rose to the top was flexibility”

#3 – Choice Touring is for the whole family

“I do think this is a great, great style for multigene”

#4Choices are made on your time

“Here’s the great thing, the choice is 100% personal, they don’t need to choose before they go, they can choose the day of, they can discuss things with their advisor ahead of time.”

#5 – Options for every travel style

“We made sure that each of the choices are that unique. It’s not like if you’re someone who’s a more active, adventurous, you’re going to have to choose between a hike and bike”

Full Podcast Transcript

John Werner 0:18  

Hello, everyone welcome to the MASTers of Travel advisor series. My name is John Werner. I’m the President of MAST Travel Network. We’re a network of over 200 travel agencies with about 1000 travel advisors, all considering themselves full-service agencies, allowing them to plan travel worldwide. Today, I have with me, Jen Halboth, who is with Globus Family of Brands, which is one of the companies that our network works with, selling tours and their product worldwide. Welcome Jen to our show today, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what you do at Globus.

Jennifer Halboth 1:19  

Thank you so much John. It’s great to be on with you guys. It’s so great to be talking travel, right?! Look Im wearing my “I got vaccinated sticker” I got my second shot yesterday.

John Werner 1:27  

Oh, good.

Jennifer Halboth 1:29  

So excited! Again, I’m Jen Halboth Director of National Accounts. I’ve been with the Globus Family of Brands for over 17 years, almost 18. I worked in marketing for an earlier stint but have been in the sales side for the last six years and absolutely love it. I think it’s one of the best companies in the entire world to work for. They have shown that during the pandemic. We’re here today to talk about something new that we’ve developed, but I’m thrilled to be here. Love that we’re close to getting back out there and can’t wait to welcome all the travelers back to the Globus Family of Brands. 

John Werner 2:02  

Well, that’s great. And that’s one of the reasons why we love working with Globus, very innovative company always coming up with new travel options and travel styles. And that’s one of the things we’re going to talk about today is something new that Globus has introduced. We are going to introduce it with a 30-second video just to give everybody a little preview of what we’re what we’re talking about. 

[discussions pauses for video on Choice Touring] 

As you can see from the video, the style of touring, we’re going to talk about is called Choice Touring. Jen, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the genesis of this new program?

Jennifer Halboth 3:17  

Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s a little mix of qualitative and quantitative. First Mentall did a recent study. And they surveyed a lot of perspective as well as past tour clients, and what they’re looking for in a tour, all different elements price, sightseeing. And the element that rose to the top was flexibility. 55% of those said that that was the number one factor that they were looking for in a tour. And honestly, it’s no surprise. I think that coupled with the fact that we think that there’s going be a lot of people out there, that have never looked at a tour before. We’re going to be moving into a post COVID environment, there’s still a lot of unknowns. You save these travel dollars up, and you want to go and have an amazing vacation, you want to make sure you get to do everything that you want to do. They may look at a tour for the first time and come to the MAST advisor and say, “I want to do a tour”, but they’re going to want some more free time, they’re going to want some more flexibility. Enter Choice Touring because it delivers just that.

John Werner 4:14  

It’s great. And I know that you’re introducing these tours in both North America and in Europe. And how many tours has Globus created around this concept?

Jennifer Halboth 4:26  

We’ve got 13 tours to start, seven in Europe, six in North America. I really hope that it takes off and in the coming years it grows to be a bigger part of our portfolio. Because I do think it makes sense for people either new to the style, or even seasons tour clients who are going back to a destination they’ve done before, and they want to do new things, and they just want a little bit more free time, flexibility and choice.

John Werner 4:48  

Yeah, I think it’s very exciting. And one of the things I noticed when I looked at the list of the different tour options that you said about 13 altogether, there’s a lot of play on words. What I mean by that is Green with Envy is Ireland by design, or Oh my Goddess Greece by design. In North America, I see Boogie and Blues for something through the southern US and California Dreaming. How did you come up with these names? And is there a reason for doing it like this?

Jennifer Halboth 5:31  

Yeah, well, one of my favorites is Hot Tam. And then we tell you why this tour is plaid to the bone. So, it’s very fun. Well, and travels fun, right? But at the end of the day, we do want to appeal to a different traveler or a different type of person in Mentall looked at our core portfolio before, we wanted it to be different from the Globus core portfolio, as well as some of our core competitors. We wanted to appeal to multigen. I do think this is a great, great style for multigen. And frankly, we’ve been around since 1928. We’ve got to keep it fresh; we’ve got to stay spry. So, we just really think that the thirst for travel as we emerge from, where we have been, we want to have a little fun and keep things whimsical, too, right? Because we’ve all lived through some heavy days. And travel should not be one of those things that should be heavy going into the future.

John Werner 6:22  

Yes, it obviously is meant to be fun, and really excite people to go and see new destinations or destinations they’ve been to previously but just doing it differently this time or doing some things that they didn’t get to do previously. There is a lot of variety and the activities being offered. I see everything from food and wine to culture, history, active outdoors, certainly music, entertainment, sports, arts. So how to guess choose which activity they want for all the places that you go on these tours?

Jennifer Halboth 7:09  

Here’s the great thing, the choice is 100% personal, they don’t need to choose before they go, they can choose the day of, they can discuss things with their advisor ahead of time. And really, whatever they choose that’s what they get to do. We really wanted to offer a selection that allowed us to showcase the very nuance of a destination. It’s not just history. By giving people a choice of the type of things that helps them personalize the tour for themselves, while still getting all the benefits, financial as well as logistics that a traditional tour delivers.

John Werner 7:41  

So, even if only one person would select a particular activity, can they do that? Or? 

Jennifer Halboth 7:50  

Yes, yes there’s no cap and there’s no minimum, if the whole group decided they wanted to do a round of golf in Scotland, guess what? We’re bringing a whole coach to the golf course. The idea is that you truly get to choose whatever you choose whatever the group amount is, we’re going to operate it.

John Werner 8:06  

Do you have a feel for? You know, this is brand new. So, you can’t show the history and the trends yet. But do you have a feel for how many people will choose an activity? If you have 30 people on the tour, how many of them will choose this activity versus this activity?

Jennifer Halboth 8:26  

That’s a great question. Again, we don’t know for sure. But if you really do look at how unique the options are, we do think kind of a law of averages that there will be somewhat of a natural, the group will kind of spread out. If you’ve got 30 people, and there’s three options that day, you know, the groups could be anywhere between eight to 12. We made sure that each of the choices are that unique. It’s not like if you’re someone who’s a more active, adventurous, you’re going to have to choose between a hike and bike. We’re going to do biking around Florence with a lunch. But then also, we’re going to do a walking tour somewhere. And then also, we’re going to do a cooking class somewhere. People are going to be able to go, I’m really kind of wired this way, this is the kind of, you know, inclusion I’d like to do. It’ll help them kind of naturally spread out.

John Werner 9:12  

And the tour manager would have plenty of information on how rigorous? 

Jennifer Halboth 9:21  

Oh, yeah, for sure. We’re very clear on that, a lot of times it’s like, it’s an E bike ride, so you’ve got an E assist. It’s just what we do at Globus we’re so about logistics and details. And so we’re going to be very good about managing expectations, painting the picture of what the you know, how long it’s going to be, what physical level of activity, so people can make the right choice for that.

John Werner 9:42  

And you’re used to doing that already anyway. On your typical tours, you always have to, let the guests know exactly what to expect. So, is everything already included in the price of the tour or are there going to be any extras? Are there like optional add-ons or something?

Jennifer Halboth 10:06  

Great question. The tour price is going to include all the experiences and sightseeing accommodations, all the transportation, select meals clearly noted. The things that are going to be additional are going to be airfare, gratuities, if you do extra nights, insurance, which you should buy, that’s going to be additional. And then of course, any meals that are not included, but it’s very clear, we don’t offer any optionals on these Choice Tourings. The idea is that you come on, and the optionals are, what would have maybe been an optional before you get to do in the normal tour day, it’s included in the price, you get that variety, but then still get more free time.

John Werner 10:39  

Okay. Oh, that’s great. So, walk us through a couple of these activities. We’re going to show a few photos as we go through each one. Well, we’ll start with the Rocky Mountains. Give a brief example of the tour choices for this itinerary in the Rocky Mountains.

Jennifer Halboth 10:58  

You could do a float trip on the Flathead river through Glacier National Park. I have not been to Yosemite. But so many people have said Glacier is just a remarkable National Park. So, to just get on and float down a river and take in the beauty around you is amazing. Another one that’s not called out here. But that I think is awesome is a fascinating workshop at the 323 Guests ranch. You go and you learn about the local flora and fauna like the medicinal aspects and you pick things out and you come back and you get to infuse oils into a salve that you get to take home yourself. Yeah, very cool stuff. Like I said, very immersive and hands on.

John Werner 11:38  

Oh, that’s very fun. Let’s go to the next one in Canada. We know Canada’s not quite yet open for American travelers, but it will come and so there’s going to be a big demand for Canada. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jennifer Halboth 12:01  

The trek one in Whistler. There’s this great area where there’s a series of suspension bridges and boardwalks and trails, your kind of up in the canopy, and you get to walk in the rain, like the forest, and you’re going to be with a naturalist and learn and then you’re going to have these great sweeping views of the valley below. You can feel safe being up there and get a view that maybe you couldn’t get before. Also, there’s a really great wine region. It’s where you can go to these different wineries and you’re going above the Algonquin Lake, and we’re going to a cater a picnic. We’re going to call it a picnic, but it’s going to be like the best picnic you’ve ever had. It’s just a short drive from Kelowna, and you’re going to visit five different wineries. Okay, yes, I am ready. I am ready for that five wineries, sign me up.

John Werner 12:48  

I want to go too!

Jennifer Halboth 12:50  

Yeah, we’re all ready! There’s going to be things where you can get out in nature. You don’t have to exert yourself, or you’re able to get out in nature and exert yourself. There’s going to be all this great mix.

John Werner 13:01  

Yeah, I think that’s what’s going to be something special about this touring style is that it can appeal to everyone. If you want to be super active. If you’re going to take things a little more leisurely or slowly. You can do that, too. What about Portugal? Let’s look at Portugal next.

Jennifer Halboth 13:27  

When you go to Portugal, I’ve been once. You can go to discover and go on a walking tour of this beautiful medieval town. And then you go into a home of a local and you hear the soul of Portuguese music. So, you can be in a local home hearing this, craft from someone who’s a musician. I remember one time I was on a Globus tour for a sales meeting. And we were down in Buenos Aires, and we went into someone’s home and they invited two dancers to come in the home and perform. There’s something special about going into a local’s home and enjoying the arts. It’s really extremely memorable. There is a burrata region, burrito region, and it’s a really great wine region. It’s in the Central coastline. And you’ll go into two different wineries and it’s really known for its sparkling wine, which I’m a big fan of, Portugal’s got great wine. So that’s another thing you can get in just wine, tasty food. If you’ve ever looked at some of the active discovery stuff that we do on the Avalon side, I think you can just see how the Globus family of Brands has really evolved to give our clients options to personalize their experience with us and just have memories that they would not have had before.

John Werner 14:52  

Absolutely and that is one of the big advantages for a traveler. All these places and restaurants and so forth, they’ve all been checked out ahead of time. And these are places that you’ve established some relationship with the local owners, people don’t have to find these things on their own. It’s all done for them ahead of time. 

Jennifer Halboth 15:28  

It should make it easy as those moments that end up being that, you know, you couldn’t have planned that. Well, I want to go to this country, I want to see the city, or I’ve always wanted to go to a winery in France, so they kind of have a loose idea of experiences they want to have, and then we give them more. We give them the experience that they didn’t even know they were coming for that they go home and talking about.

John Werner 15:48  

Yeah, and they wouldn’t have discovered these places on their own. You can’t come across all of it on your own.

Jennifer Halboth 15:58  

You wouldn’t have the time to, that’s the thing. The reason we did do this more flexible tour is that the reason you don’t want to go true independent is because you could never think of your own. If you’ve ever just done a vacation, where you’ve like, Oh, I want to do this, I want to do this, you get back up and you’re like, oh, we didn’t end up doing that. We didn’t do that. And a tour really allows you to do the most in your seven or 10 days wherever you’re gone. But this new style allows you to have a little bit flexibility and choice as well.

John Werner 16:25  

Yeah, it’s a great use of your time and you get to spend time enjoying the vacation and having fun rather than trying to figure out everything as you go.

Jennifer Halboth 16:37  

No, especially the driving, right? What time do you have to get up and leave in the morning? You don’t have to worry about it, the driver will take care of it. 

John Werner 16:45  

Very true. Let me ask you to select from any of the tours available Europe, North America, what you think are the best options for adventure experiences?

Jennifer Halboth 17:01  

Okay. The California Dreamin’ is great. You get to trek in Yosemite. Sunny Days, Starry Nights, the one that’s just the Rocky Mountains, and then From the top in Western Canada. I just think get out west in Canada and North America it just screams adventure. 

John Werner 17:20  

And it’s so breathtaking, the Rockies, just unbelievable. How about the best options for foodies.

Jennifer Halboth 17:31  

Okay, now we’re going to go across the pond and get back to Europe. Italy, the Veni Vidi Vici. That’s amazing. The Portugal one we talked about. That one’s great for food, but also the Alps out Loud, Switzerland. You get some fondue, you’re going to get some chocolate, probably going to have some more chocolate and cheese. And just, it’s amazing

John Werner 17:50  

So, there’s, like food tasting? And can you go into city markets? 

Jennifer Halboth 18:01  

Yup, all of it! I mean, the food in Switzerland is good.

John Werner 18:03  

Oh, incredible. How about best nighttime options? Are there going to be any nighttime options?

Jennifer Halboth 18:10  

This one, hands down Green with Envy — Ireland. You’re going to go on a pub crawl. The nighttime options in Ireland are excellent. And then of course, if music is your jam, I suggest the Boogies and Blues in the US, the southern US by itself. There’s a lot of music baked into that, it’s a lot of fun.

John Werner 18:28  

So, these just went on sale, I think, not too long ago. And what seems to be the reaction so far? 

Jennifer Halboth 18:38  

The reaction is very strong. The Scotland tour is out ahead, selling very, very well. But we’re seeing great demand for both. We’re seeing more bookings into 2022, understandably. I think it’s one of those things that once we start operating again, people are going to go, “alright, tell me where I can go tell me what’s new”. It’s going to be really great that the MAST advisors have this new tool to lay on top of our already extensive portfolio, as you know, which is very strong in Europe and North America and worldwide. It’s great to have new product. It’s great to have marketing. That’s fun. And that can appeal to a new traveler.

John Werner 19:14  

Well, it’s super exciting. I’m sure you’re already having internal discussions on where do you go next, let’s develop even more of these types of experiences, then add to the portfolio. 

Jennifer Halboth 19:29  

Yeah. We’ve done that on the Active Discovery side. We came out with Active Discoveries portfolios that are up to six cruises in Europe now. I would love to see these 13 tours grow to 20 and. I think at the end of the day, we’re just not rusty. We may have been around for nearly 100 years. We’re all about mixing the tried and true with the what’s next and where can we go. That’s where we’re going to continue to do we’ve used this time wisely, this resource. To come out with some new things. And we’re very, very excited about the future of travel, love the future of our relationship, and about the future of the MAST travel advisor. You guys are going to do an amazing job.

John Werner 20:12  

Yeah, well, it’s wonderful. Jen, I thank you so much for chatting with us today and telling the audience about this new style of touring. And also let everybody know that if you want to inquire about any of these tours by Globus, find your MAST travel advisor and they will help you sign up for something and have a wonderful time doing it. So, again, thank you so much, Jen.

Jennifer Halboth 20:42  

Really you guys pleasure being on.

John Werner 20:45  

Take care.

Amber Zakem

Amber Zakem has worked in the travel industry since 2014. Although, her love of travel began far before that. Amber grew up visiting cousins stationed throughout Europe and worked as an Au Pair in Germany for a year between High School and College. She started working at a local travel agency in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, after graduating from Central Michigan University. Amber began working for MAST Travel Network in 2016 and is the Social Media Specialist. She runs the MAST Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat and she teaches twice monthly webinars to travel agents on using social media to promote travel. Amber has continued her passion for travel and social media by also teaching a course at Moraine Valley Community College in their Hospitality program.