American historian and travel writer William Least Heat-Moon is famous for setting out on a 13,000-mile journey with his Rand McNally atlas and vowing to only take the proverbial path less traveled, or in his case, routes that were marked in blue in the atlas.
Moon’s approach to travel, driven by a desire to see the world differently, escaping the crowds and the typical tourist haunts, has inspired the upcoming North American rebranding effort of the UK-based Back-Roads Touring Company.
Founded in 1986, Back-Roads Touring Company has a long-established reputation for offering small-group travel that’s designed to provide a different, more unique and authentic perspective of a destination.
Now company executives say they see an opportunity to bring that approach to travel to a North American audience under the name Blue Roads Touring Company. The new name is designed to speak to a distinctly American audience and is part of Back Roads’ global growth strategy.
“We see a lot of opportunity in North America,” said Ed Pettitt, general manager of Blue-Roads Touring. “North American travelers are placing a premium on authentic experiential-based travel, which has been our prime focus for more than three decades. Relaunching and expanding our presence in North America is key to successfully building the business across all markets globally.”
“The entire ethos of what we do is based around that road less traveled,” Pettitt added during a recent interview with TravelPulse. “Our trips only include a maximum of 18 passengers and we focus on getting a little bit away from those main tourist sites, and getting close to the genuine side of a destination and giving travelers the freedom to explore on their own and going below the surface to provide an intimate and experiential look at a destination.”
In addition to the new name for North American audience, the just announced rebranding effort, which has been two years in the making, will include a new Blue Roads website that’s set to launch in mid-December.
The rollout will also include the exciting launch of its first Asian tours with trips to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, which will complement its existing tours across the U.K. and Europe.
As for the company expands, it will maintain its long-standing focus on the quality of experiences over quantity, which notably includes taking travelers on such unique excursions as truffle hunting in LaBelle, France and visiting Switzerland’s last alphorn-maker’s workshop.
The brand also offers unique culinary experiences, such as taking food-lovers to hidden-gem restaurants and places such as Tenuta Seliano, a farm in Capaccio-Paestum, Italy, where guests watch a baronessa make fresh mozzarella and participate in a farm-fresh cooking class.
Back-Roads Touring Company also utilizes specially built mini-coaches, Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, as opposed to large buses for its group tours. It also makes a point of booking guests in properties that mirror the local surroundings, from charming boutique hotels to majestic castles.
“Twenty-five percent of our clients are from North America and they’re looking for genuine experiences, access, and an easy pace. We’ve seen that trend developing for a number of years,” said Pettitt. “So, this is a good opportunity to give our product to the North American market, because what we deliver is absolutely aligned to the values of North American traveler.”
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