Zicasso — an online service that matches travel agent specialists with luxury travelers to plan memorable customized trips around the globe — is touting five specially planned trips on five different continents to mark its fifth anniversary in business.
The five tours promise experiences and access beyond the ordinary. They include the “Gold Standard Culinary and Art Tour of Italy,” the “Ultra Luxury South African Safari,” the “Australian Family Adventure,” the “Insider’s Guide to Brazil,” and “Off the Beaten Path China.”
Along with the tours, Zicasso is offering an intriguing promotion: the first five travelers to book all five tours by the end of 2013 will receive free roundtrip airfare to all five. The airfare is in coach class and must be used by 2015.
Of course, if you can afford to take all five tours, the free airfare may be no more than an afterthought, or irrelevant if you don’t want to fly coach to, say, Australia. But it’s still clever marketing, especially since it imposes a deadline (December 31) and is limited to the first five to book, giving anyone who is interested an incentive to act quickly.
Here are some highlights from the five tours, each emphasizing behind-the-scenes or unusual experiences:
* 10-day Gold Standard Culinary and Art Tour of Italy: Visit a fairytale medieval castle for a private Tuscan meal and tasting of prestigious Brunello di Montalcino wines.
* 11-day South Africa Ultra Luxury Safari: Your wildlife safari experiences will be accompanied and professionally documented in photos and videos by a renowned wildlife photographer.
* 13-day Insider’s Brazil: Take a behind-the-scenes private tour of Rio’s Maracana Stadium, a future World Cup venue, with an insider from one of the football (soccer) teams.
* 18-day Australian Ultimate Family Adventure: Be a “Keeper for a Day” at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most unforgettable species of Australian wildlife and learn about the Sanctuary’s conservation and rehabilitation efforts.
* 16-day Off the Beaten Path China: Take in the beauty of the sun setting over a glowing red landscape at the iconic Red Lands in Dongchuan.
Zicasso doesn’t plan these trips itself. Rather, it relies on top travel specialists around the world who pass what is described as a rigorous screening process.
Its usual method of operation is to gather information from clients on what they are looking for in a trip, and then put that out for bid to a select group of knowledgeable travel agents who compete for the clients’ business by putting together customized itineraries. Once you choose a specialist, you work together to refine all the details of your trip.
Zicasso doesn’t charge its clients for this service, though the clients can expect to spend plenty on the trips themselves, since they typically include luxury accommodation, transfers, top guides, special experiences and the like — along with continual access to travel assistance if needed during the trip.
It’s the kind of “handcrafted travel” (the site’s slogan) that appeals to baby boomers who can afford this kind of luxury and like to pre-plan but do it their way: individualized, not dependent on one-size-fits-all groups, high-class accommodation, and memorable experiences not available to everyone.
Zicasso has just revamped its website and it’s a good idea to check it out for more information on how they work. They lay out the process clearly and, yes, in large, readable type! The website also relies on beautiful photography to lure you in.
You can also read customer reviews of their Zicasso-initiated trips on the site — not all of which are positive. While that may seem like unusual marketing, I believe it leads to added trust: They’re willing to show some of the warts that may pop up in even the best-planned trips, so they’re not just cherry-picking the best outcomes to showcase. The site also includes ratings of the travel specialists from Zicasso customers and establishes a high minimum standard for them to meet.
Because of the potential costs involved — and for that matter the manner of pre-planned luxury travel that’s offered — Zicasso’s services will not appeal to all baby boomers, by any means. But for those who like to know where they’re going and when — and that their trip won’t involve a lot of unpleasant surprises — it’s a site worth checking out.
This Week’s Quiz Question:
According to a recent Expedia survey of more than 1,000 U.S. travelers, what is the top priority for consumers during the process of planning for and researching a trip?
I’ll have the answer for you in my next post.
Meanwhile, be sure to download my free report, “How to Ride the Coming Wave of Boomers,” available here. It’s all about the best ways to market travel to baby boomers — the biggest-spending group of travelers the world has ever seen. It’s also the easiest way to subscribe to my blog, so you won’t miss a posting. Thanks!