“We chose them for their knowledge”

San Francisco Chronicle

Frequently Asked Questions

Still Need Convincing?

Why is it better to book through you than to just do it myself?

There are many reasons. First, you don’t have to worry about all the little things because we handle them for you so that you can focus on having fun. It’s your vacation, after all. Second, you’ll get much more out of your trip with our best-in-country guides and services. We have spent 20 years identifying and cultivating the top guides, transport companies, and other service providers. Third, you will benefit from our 20-plus years of experience that you may not yet have, and you will avoid the pitfalls of trying to plan a trip in a country that does not always function so well. Fourth, unless you happen to be friends with an ambassador or two, you will have access to people and places with us that you would never have on your own. Last, you will have 24/7 in-country assistance should you need anything whatsoever during your travels.

Why is it better to book through you than to use a locally based company?

Again, many reasons. First of all, we are incorporated here in the United States. Second, we carry American liability insurance. Third, we operate by American ethics and standards of professionalism; bluntly said, there are many travel companies overseas that don’t. Fourth, for all the fancy websites, at the end of the day it is about trust – about our ability to understand what you seek and to make it happen. We see ourselves as that bridge between you and the realities of the places you travel and we are well equipped to understand your perspective. Fifth, we’re really good at what we do. Just because someone is local does not guarantee anything. Finally, the way we see it, between our in-country team and our New York team, you have the best of both worlds.

Are you expensive?

Your trip cost depends on what are you are looking for and when you are traveling. We believe we offer good value, but we have no interest in being the “cheapest.” There are many variables in the cost of a trip and we are always happy to adjust the details of your trip to lower to your price. We work with a full range of 4 and 5-star properties.

What if I’m not looking for bells and whistles, but just want a really great trip?

No problem. That is exactly why every trip is designed from scratch. Our clients are across the spectrum in terms of what they want to include, their budget, their taste, and their pace. Our only “rule” is that we need to do all the components of your trip (accommodations, guiding, and land transport where needed) except air. We just don’t provide ad hoc services.

Do you do set-departure motorcoach tours?

No, we don’t. Although they provide a great social component (with a good group), we hear from most clients that have traveled in a group and traveled privately that they much prefer a private trip designed just for them.

Do you do group trips for institutions?

Yes, we have worked with some great museums, universities, religious institutions, and groups of people with shared interests (industry term is affinity groups); from jewelry collectors to the 200 top designers and architects in North America. Visit Group Travel.

Why On Earth…

Why “Heritage?”

“Heritage” symbolizes our commitment to the notion that travel is not about checking monuments off a list or having dates and dynasties thrown at us by a disinterested guide. To us, travel is about discovering the heritage of a country – not only the physical and historical heritage, but the living heritage – its culture, its heartbeat, its people, and its soul.

Why such a quirky collection of destinations?

Yes, we know it is hard to remember. When a company is founded on the passion of an architect and former Fulbright Scholar who has written books, restored buildings, curated exhibitions, and traveled extensively in these destinations, it is hard to tell him otherwise. If you want to learn a bit more about our story, check out Who We Are.

Why don’t you sell more destinations?

We like to be the best at what we do. And we see dilution as the fastest train to mediocrity.
Rather than adding countries, we would rather search out new experiences and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in our current destinations. We make it our point to know our countries better than anyone else, and every year we are a better company than the year before.

What is a “typical” Heritage Tours client?

In terms of demographics, there is no “typical” client. We serve couples, families, and group of friends. We do a lot of multi-generational family trips as well as groups celebrating someone’s birthday or anniversary. Clients are across the board in what they love – history and culture, adventure, food and wine, romance, or relaxation – or a combination of the above. Many of our clients are focused on luxury and others not as much. One of the advantages of having an expertise that is deep and broad is that we can serve all of them well.

Are your clients all Americans? What if I would prefer guides fluent in another language?

Close to 15% of our clients are from Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and Canada. Many of them come to us because they read about us somewhere or a client told them about their trip. Our documents are in English, but we have guides fluent in many languages in all of our countries.

Why have I never heard of you?

We prefer that our trips be our soapbox. We spend our resources and time putting together magical trips instead of glossy brochures. We like to think that a trip done right is our best marketing tool. That’s worked pretty well so far, as our growth has been mostly through word-of-mouth and people who read about us in the magazines.

Can I combine countries?

Absolutely. Some of our most popular combination trips are Spain-Portugal, Turkey-Greece, Israel-Jordan and Spain-Morocco. In Africa, people combine countries all the time.

Do you have any allegiances to specific hotel chains (or safari chains)?

Not at all. We choose hotels based on your criteria and on our judgment as to what fits best. We tend to prefer well-located hotels that embody local flavor and charm. And of course management and service are very important. We are able to look beyond pretty website photos and TripAdvisor reviews because we are regularly staying at the hotels ourselves and constantly getting client feedback.

Are children welcome?

We love kids. Tell us what excites them. Do you have a budding rock ‘n’ roll drummer in your garage? A future ballerina in the family? A high school soccer star? We know that if the kids have fun, Mom and Dad will have fun as well.

What if I have a health or physical limitation; can I still travel with you?

Talk to us. We will be honest with you and do our best to make it work.

What happens if I need something in-country? What happens if I have an emergency while abroad?

Part of our team is based in each of our destinations to help you. Unfortunately, travel does not always go perfectly (although we certainly strive to do our part). We are there to help 24/7.

Nuts and Bolts

Do you charge a trip planning fee?

No. We work on good faith.

How are you compensated?

It’s simple. We have net contracts with hotels, transport companies, guides, and other service providers. We total them up, add on a bit of money for our time (and for our landlord) and we give you one total price.

Do I have to worry about currency fluctuation?

Not at all. All prices are always guaranteed in US dollars. That is a huge bonus for you in times of unpredictable fluctuations. You should never book a trip in foreign currency.

What about cost breakdowns?

We are happy to revise your itinerary if you wish to lower the cost or to change anything else.
But we don’t conceptualize your trip as a laundry list of services. We are writing a story and bringing that story to life for you. Think of it like a restaurant: when you order your salmon, you don’t know how much of the price is for the ingredients, laundering the linen, paying the waiter, the rent, or all the other hidden costs in providing an excellent piece of fish. So we don’t offer breakdowns either. You choose whether or not to order the salmon based on many factors, including price. And then you judge your experience as a totality.

Do you work with professional travel advisors?

All the time. And we love to. In fact, we are a preferred supplier to two top consortia of luxury travel advisors in the world – Traveller Made and Signature Travel Network. If you have an advisor and you would prefer to work through them, just tell them to call us before you start working with us.

Getting started:

What’s next?

We are happy to work through email if that is your preferred method, but we always like to start off with a phone call so we can get to know your likes and dislikes, your passions, your pace, and your style. So give us a ring, or submit the form on Contact Us, and we will get back to you shortly.

Do I book my own air?

Most clients book air on their own. If you would like to work with a professional travel advisor, we are happy to give you a few names. Unless you prefer to do it yourself, we book internal flights and flights between countries if you are visiting more than one country during your trip.

What do you need from me when we speak?

Just be honest. We don’t judge.
Be prepared to tell us what you loved in other trips, things your kids enjoy, things you have always dreamt about doing.

And after we speak, what happens?

See How It Works. But don’t worry; we will walk you through everything. We want it to be fun for you as well.