Do you want an imitation travel experience or the real thing?

Your cut-price travel may cost you 30% more than it’s worth plus you may be getting counterfeit goods!

Ever come home after a trip thinking “Well that was OK but we missed much more than we saw”

We think that there are lots of real people out there that like real honest to goodness travel experiences. We think that there are lots of people that realize that their expenditure of time, money and, let’s face it, carbon – could deliver much more.

So, why is it so difficult to get the real travel experience that you look forward to?

Well, first of all it’s your fault! Sorry but true – when as the last time that you really prepared to go on a trip – did some real research, found out about the history, culture, geography, food and wine of the destination you’ve chosen to go to? And when you get there, do you really engage with local people?

It’s crucial you know, if you want to enjoy then you have to prepare and engage. So like the man says… show a little respect! For your expenditure and your time if not for the place you’re going to visit.


The second reason you get counterfeit goods is the OTAs (Online Travel Agents), and GDNs (Global Distribution Systems.


They are MASSIVE and they now command the booking industry by getting your business and then erecting a paywall between you and the place you want to stay in. Ever wondered how you can get up to 60% off that little B&B you’re staying in? Probably not – you’re happy to get the reduction – right?

But think about it… current statistics indicate that over 70% of accommodation bookings go through these agencies like,, and – that means they are taking around a cool $100bn for just standing in the way between you and your accommodation and forcing the accommodation owner to put his prices down too (no they wouldn’t call it forcing – they’d call it a marketplace). $100bn? How? Because these agencies who have no skin in the game charge the accommodation owners up to 25% on each booking.

Great for the chains who can negotiate from a position of power – rubbish for the small guys and gals.

So when you stay at the little B&B and think that they are economizing on soap, don’t put it down to their green efforts put it down to the fact that they are probably getting 50% or so knocked off their revenue because a big fat OTA/GDN is standing in the way. 50% could mean less staff, less training, less happiness and definitely less for you – no wonder it looks a bit counterfeit!

And just to add insult to injury – who has got your details after the booking? The OTA/GDN and they will certainly make use of it – not your friendly B&B.

The third reason you get plastic destinations is the rapacious travel industry itself. It is very, very difficult to sell complicated things and there is nothing more complicated than travel and tourism. Hundreds of thousands of destinations all over the world all different. Or are there? Or are they? The reason they all get to look the same is because the industry is trying to satisfy the biggest consumer needs for the biggest return.  Operationally that means fewer places, more people.

So there are less destinations than you think and many less different destinations because they are often trying to do the same thing.

So why not go on a small group tour to explore and enjoy off the beaten track? Well, many years ago the big tour operators tried to buy little niche operators doing walking tours and small group tours. It didn’t work.


But recently TUI and T Cook have managed to do it. For instance Intrepid Travel is owned now by TUI and is part of Peak, turning over a cool half billion. So that little funky operation is just as likely to be owned by a massive multinational.

The sadness is that there are hundreds of fabulous tourist destinations really off the beaten track. We deal with them all the time. And they really would treat you as royalty because they don’t get too many tourists and they remember how to do hospitality. And they would love the money that tourists can bring.

Sad, eh? But there is hope

Have a look at





  1. The best tours in Oaxaca, Mexico are run by locals with minimum experience of working with internationals. The package tours are organized from Mexico City, so the guides have minimal contact with locals. Savvy visitors have learned how to make their own arrangements, but surely there must be a better way of connecting the dots.

  2. Thanks so much for writing this, Valere. When we travel, we are voting with our vacation budget.

    I, for one, prefer to vote for the underdogs, the agile local hotels/restaurants/guides run by local families and staffed by folks from the neighborhood. By doing this, I know I get a more authentic experience. And I know that more of my spending stays in the local community.

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