New tour operator promotes ‘truly authentic’ experiences
Lisa Lau and Michael Yiptong believe size matters.
The co-founders of new Ontario-based tour operator, Okushu Tours, say it’s limiting group size to 16 clients and their guide, and they’re adamant that they will hold to that number, saying there’s good reason for doing so.
“We feel there are a lot of travellers who want to travel in a group but have a preconceived idea of groups of 40 people,” which can prove cumbersome, Yiptong says.
Smaller groups also enable them to opt for more intimate restaurants, he says, but, at the same time, still provide companionship and a sense of security for those nervous about travelling on their own.
Lau and Yiptong – who together have some 40 years of working in the travel industry – decided to offer Japan; Thailand and Cambodia, which are toured together; Vietnam; China; Peru; and South Africa to their clients on tours of 12 to 14 days, with extensions to those itineraries possible.
As well, they may have once- or twice-yearly departures to other countries.
But Yiptong insists that they will only offer regular departures to a small number of countries.
“We have no intention of trying to sell the whole world,” he says. “A lot of tour companies are selling a lot of things they don’t know.”
Okushu is promising clients a “truly authentic experience.” Its itineraries feature classic sites – such as Machu Picchu in Peru, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in China and the Taj Mahal in India – along with other attractions that are lesser known.
Lau says the company is committed to flexibility, with groups able to break into smaller numbers on some days, enabling people with specific interests to go their separate ways for shorter periods of time before reuniting with the group.
As well, if a group decides that it wants to spend longer viewing the likes of a festival, Okushu will try to accommodate them, she says.
People wanting to sleep in or simply relax for part of a day can do so, if it doesn’t hinder the group’s travel schedule.
Lau and Yiptong say they’ve hired local guides familiar with the areas they’re leading people through and showcased destinations were chosen for their historic and cultural significance.
Lau adds she and Yiptong chose hotels for their “character and convenience.”
Yiptong reports that Okushu is working with “multiple airlines.”
The company pays 10% commission and will use seminars to educate agents about its products.
A brochure is now available.
More information can be found at okushu.com.