Fraser Neave is the director of product development for Wells Gray Tours, a 45-year-old British Columbia-based tour provider of group travel to North America and exotic locales. Neave talked with freelance writer Erin Albanese about bringing motorcoaches down every highway and byway in the Canadian province, and creating experiences all over the globe.
Q: How would you describe your tours?
A: Wells Gray Tours is the largest tour operator in British Columbia. Our primary business is selling retail group travel packages throughout Canada, the United States and destinations abroad. Our secondary business is receptive travel services for inbound travelers into Western Canada, the Pacific Northwest states and the Maritime provinces. In the last 12 months, we have run 90 tours, varying from two-day Vancouver show tours to a 29-day “Around the World” tour featuring a cruise from Dubai to Singapore. We pride ourselves in providing memorable experiences that result in a 70 percent repeat-client base and we love welcoming new people to the Wells Gray family.
Q: What industry trends are you noticing?
A: Not even five years ago, we used to offer two or three winter getaway tours to California, Arizona or Texas that would drive both ways from British Columbia. Now, it is a real challenge just to get 20 people to sign up for one. While we still offer one of these driving tours each year, we have seen a substantial increase in demand for our more exotic winter tours. In the last few years, we have successfully operated cultural tours to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Cuba. Future tours will include Belize, Jamaica and the Yucatan peninsula. We also have had success in focusing on bucket list travel programs, tours that would allow clients to have “bragging rights” to their friends, so to speak. A few examples of these tour names are: “Coast to Coast by Train” and the previously mentioned “Around the World in 29 Days.”
Q: What are you most proud of about your company?
A: I love coming into the office every day because of the positive feedback we get from our clients about the travel experiences we provide. When I read the comment sheets after tours and see that nearly every traveler noted they received good value for the price paid and would recommend us to their friends, that drives me to continue designing premium travel packages. I’m also so lucky to work with a fantastic team of 22 staff members who are as passionate about travel as I am, and willing to go above and beyond for our clients.
Q. What’s the next big thing for Wells Gray Tours?
A: We have a few exciting product ideas that are on the horizon, but we are particularly looking forward to continuing to build on our successful receptive services for operators looking for customized itineraries in the Northwest. We have been operating tours in British Columbia since my father, Roland Neave, started Wells Gray Tours 45 years ago. In fact, I don’t think there is a highway in this beautiful province that we haven’t taken a coach on. We are very much looking forward to 2018 for all the places we will see and the people we will meet.
For more information, call 800-667-9552 or visit wellsgraytours.com.
Article by Erin Albanese