In late 2007 and early 2008 several of us—all small group tour company owners—met through the message board of the Slow Travel website. We recognized each other as kindred spirits and began to communicate among ourselves, sharing information and ideas about our trips. A few months later we decided to organize a little more formally (though not very formally at all), and this group—Slow Travel Tours—was launched.
Slow Travel Tours isn’t a big travel company that offers a long list of tours and uses hired guides to lead our trips. We’re not a travel agency selling tours. And we’re not an internet business that runs listings of tours or sells advertisements.
In fact, we’re not a company at all.
Slow Travel Tours is a group of independent, small travel businesses, each offering small group tours that we lead ourselves. Our trips are based in different regions of Europe and involve a variety of activities and interests. Some tours are for a full week in one area; other tours are more flexible and can be customized for even a single day. Most of our tours are based in one place, but a few tours have more than one destination.
We describe our group as an “informal affiliation,” because we’re not a structured or formal organization. We don’t have dues, a bank account, or elected officers. We collaborate on a couple of projects. Our Slow Travel Tours website helps us reach a broader audience of potential travelers. Our blog, Slow Travel Tales, Trips & Tips, offers a forum where we share stories from our tours, information about our trips and areas, and tips for European travel. We also work together to promote the concept of Slow Travel, share ideas and experiences, and improve our offerings. The affiliation has helped all of us become even better travel businesses.
The founding members of Slow Travel Tours are:
- Adventures in Italy: Kristi and Bill Steiner
- Arts Sojourn: Matthew Daub
- European Experiences / The Luberon Experience: Kathy and Charley Wood
- Italian Excursion: Cheryl Alexander
- Music and Markets Tours: Anne and Kirk Woodyard
We’ve since been pleased to welcome four other outstanding businesses to our group:
- Caves and Castles: Steve and Judie Burman
- Sapori e Saperi Adventures: Heather Jarman
- Saint Louis Hotel Barge: Alasdair and Barbara Wylie
- Grapehops: Shannon Essa
Inclusion in Slow Travel Tours is by invitation only. Over the past five years we’ve been highly selective in inviting others to join with us, because we want to be sure each new member meets our requirements and has a compatible philosophy. Our nine members are all established tour operators with a record of highly-satisfied participants. We’ve each been in business at least three years, and two members have been leading tours since the late 90′s. Our tours have involved over 1850 people from more than 20 different countries.
We’d like to recognize the contributions of Pauline Kenny, founder of the Slow Travel and Slow Europe websites, who was instrumental in the early development of Slow Travel Tours. Pauline’s help and encouragement meant a lot to us. Special thanks also go to Chris Coburn, who redesigned our website and blog and continues to help us with technical issues.
Most of all, we want to thank the wonderful travelers who have joined our tours over the years!