~ Is this what you want? Maybe not! If you have the time and the energy for doing your own travel planning, you may be able put your trip together at lower cost if you do it yourself. Or if you want someone to do it for you, but you don’t care if those people have actually been to the hotels and destinations you’re going to visit, you can probably get a trip for less money, compared to getting it from us.
We only offer destinations we know, so we can advise you from our own experience. We spend a lot of time choosing hotels, checking them out on Tripadvisor, then visiting them ourselves, so when we propose a hotel, we’ve been to it. We understand where it’s located and what it’s like. We’ve also traveled a lot in Italy. We’ve ridden the trains, lots of them, and we’ve been through the train stations. We’ve walked the cities. We’ve driven around Tuscany, and the lakes, and the Amalfi Coast, and every place else we offer. We know the level of effort in getting around and what to see and do. In a world of computerized travel arrangements, sold by people who have never been there, we’re unusual. We really have been there.
But you may not need or want our experience. If so, you don’t need to pay for what we know. You can get a trip at lower cost by some other means or from someone else. We do not attempt to be the low-cost source for trips to Italy. Our objective is to be the most knowledgeable and helpful source about the travel we offer, not the cheapest.
~ ItalySource is a tour company, not a travel agency. Chances are, that does not matter to you, but it might. A travel agent is there to get what you request, anywhere in Italy, or in the world. Travel agents serve mostly as re-sellers of what other travel companies offer. They can sell you travel products as individual components. So if you just need a city tour in Rome, or a transfer in Venice from a cruise ship, a travel agent can get it for you.
We’re different. We do complete trips, as opposed to selling the individual components, and we do those trips to places we choose to offer, as opposed to taking requests for travel anywhere in Italy. For example, we no longer offer trips to Sicily. You can get a trip to Sicily from a travel agent, but not from us. As a tour company, we have our travel products, and those are all that we offer.
You will see that we give you one price for a trip. Sometimes we offer options for added services at a listed price. But we don’t deal with component pricing in the way that a travel agency does. Buying a trip from us is more like buying a motorcoach tour, or a cruise, in the sense that we offer a package price.
If you wish to put a trip together by pricing the individual components — hotels, trains, transfers, and tours — we suggest that you put those arrangements together yourself or get them from a travel agency. Our objective is to give you the best price we can for a package of travel arrangements, without breaking out the component pricing.
~ We don’t sugar-coat our recommendations to try and sell you something. Some of our tips may even convince you not to go to Italy. So our honesty sometimes loses us a sale.
We want you to know what you’re getting, including the great parts and the not so great. If there’s an unusual effort involved in traveling somewhere, like riding the trains to the Cinque Terre, we tell you and try to prepare you for it. Or if you ask about traveling somewhere at a poor time of year, or want to cram too many destinations into a short time, or to do anything we don’t think makes sense, we’ll give you our frank opinion, even if it will cause you not to travel with us. Our business success depends on referrals and repeat clients, so we want you to come back happy, with your expectations met or exceeded.
Switzerland is the best example of our “telling it like it is.” Independent travel in Switzerland requires attention to detail that some people won’t want on a vacation. When someone calls us about a Swiss trip, we more or less try to talk them out of it, to learn if they are good candidates for enjoying all the little travel segments they’ll need to negotiate to get around. And so we’ve persuaded quite a few people to travel elsewhere, or to take a bus tour of Switzerland instead. We’re not here to sell you something that’s a bad fit.
So if we don’t think we can satisfy your requirements, we’ll tell you. Inevitably, some people call us and are not happy to find us being so candid.
~ We look at the feedback reports. Every time we plan a hotel inspection trip, we go through the same routine. We draw an outline around the best part of a destination, such as Rome, and within that prime central area, we find the highest rated hotels on TripAdvisor. Then we visit them. And we throw out the ones we don’t think our clients will like. That leaves us with a very small percentage of the hotels in Rome, Florence, and Venice. It’s a tough way to choose hotels, and it’s ridiculously time-consuming. But it’s the only way that makes sense to us.
We look at what our competitors offer and we wonder how they can still get away with proposing hotels that get bad feedback on TripAdvisor. The world has changed for travel companies. It used to be that they could make deals with hotel chains and offer whatever hotels came with the best contracts. Some travel companies still do that. We don’t. If there is a popular hotel in a good location, and we like it ourselves after inspecting it, we will use it. But if a hotel offers us a great deal, but its gets bad feedback, or we don’t like it, we don’t use it. That how we figure you would plan your own trip, and how you would want us to do it for you.
~ Our pages aren’t crammed full of distracting links. Aren’t you tired of those offers to find your high-school friends? We don’t think that every bit of a webpage should be blinking or demanding that you to click on some cheesy sales gimmick that has nothing to do with why you’re on that website in the first place.
~ No ads! We never promote companies, products or services because they pay us for advertising. We don’t even swap links.
~ Instead of ads…our pages are filled with advice from people who’ve actually traveled there.
~ Practical tips. Not the same ol’ generic travel stuff. We’ve anticipated the real issues….so you can plan for them.
~ Our website is specific to Italy and nearby parts of Europe. Those other travel websites are set up for travel all over the world, and so they generalize about everything.
In today’s travel news… History of the Vatican Museums The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and placed in what today is the Cortile Ottagono within the museum complex. The popes were among … (read more)
The ItalySource “Top 8 or 10 or so” list. We love these trips, of course, but we’re not sure why they’re selected more than others. Maybe one of these will become a fave of yours?