Italy Beyond the Obvious is a travel consultancy company that charges fees to create Italy vacations. We are Italy destination experts. An Italy destination expert is different than a travel agent. Let us describe what you can expect when you work with an Italy destination expert.
Italy Destination Expert means in-depth cultural knowledge
When you work with an Italy destination expert (or a destination expert from any country), you can expect that they have in-depth cultural knowledge.
- We’ve lived in the country for years. Madeline lived in Italy for 5 years. Claudia is from Milan and lives there now.
- We speak the language, fluently. Don’t worry, we make sure all our guides and anyone taking care of our clients on the ground speaks English well. But we are able to do research in Italian, build relationships in our vendors’ native tongue, and nothing gets lost in translation.
- We understand the culture like a local. Even if you’ve visited a place often, there’s another level of understanding that comes from actually living there.
Italy Destination Expert means in-depth tourism knowledge
Have you ever had someone ask you for a hotel recommendation in your hometown and had no idea what to suggest? Have you ever set aside time for a “staycation” to go visit the official “Top 10” sights in the place you live, because in the years you’ve lived there, you’ve never seen them? Cultural knowledge of a destination is important, but living in Italy is not enough. We also have a lot of tourism knowledge that will make your Italy trip amazing.
- We’ve created amazing Italy itineraries for hundreds of travelers, and we understand Italy’s “wow” factor. That means we can make sure you have it on your trip.
- We will not just recommend the official “Top 3” things for you. Who knows which random people on the internet decided which attractions make the official Top Three anyway. We will tailor our recommendations to the specific activities we think you would like, based on your interests.
- We go way beneath the surface. Been to Rome five times? We can still create an amazing 3-day itinerary for you. Do you have a deep interest in all things Michelangelo? We can put together a 10-day Michelangelo-focused itinerary. Are you a chef who wants to delve deeper, or a foodie who wants to understand the nuances between different Italian regions? We can help you with that.
Italy Destination Expert means the best accommodations
We create dream trips and bucket list trips and honeymoons for people on a regular basis. We work within your budget and we do not base our recommendations on how much commission we’re going to earn. Because of this, we can propose any type of accommodation you can imagine. For example:
- If you’d like a five-star hotel, on the Amalfi Coast, with a sea view and balcony, and Virtuoso amenities — we can do that.
- If you’d like an Airbnb apartment in the center of Venice, with a washing machine, air conditioning, and a friendly host — we can find that, too.
- If you have kids and would like interconnecting rooms, or a farmhouse stay, or a family room at a nice-but-not-over-the-top hotel — we can do that too.
- We have relationships with a lot of hotels in Italy, so if VIP treatment is important to you, we can get you that.
- We can get you small discounts on some accommodations, but if you’re looking for big discounts, we are probably not the right fit. However, we can promise that our recommendations are good value for money.
Italy Destination Expert means relationships on the ground
Our travelers tell us over and over again that local guides are the highlight of a trip. We have relationships with a handful of local guides in each city in Italy. Guides take payment directly from the travelers, so we don’t get commissions and we can’t mark up. The reason this approach works is that we ask the guides to take good care of you and we’ll keep sending them customers. You can expect:
- We will recommend the type of tour that works best for you. That might be a VIP tour, or a small group tour, or a private tour. We never recommend large group tours.
- We will recommend a specific private guide that works best for you. For example, we’ll use a different guide for a family with school-aged children compared to a couple who are college professors who want to delve deep. We have personal relationships with our guides. We do not book with organizations who will assign you a guide at the last minute.
- We will book reliable drivers for your transfers. We’ve been working with our local drivers for a decade and we know they are reliable, safe, and good value for money.
- We’ll open up our little black book to recommend specific activities we know you’ll love. We recommend different things to different travelers. For example, if you’d like to do a cooking class, we’ll ask whether you want to cook in the kitchen of an Italian grandmother; or you may want to learn from a professional in chef whites, in a kitchen inside a historic Tuscan villa. Or, you may want to start your cooking class with a market tour.
Italy Destination Expert means good value for money
We charge consulting fees because putting together this type of highly personalized trip is very time-consuming. We are not inexpensive, and we realize that. However, our trip planning services are good value for money. You can expect:
- We work directly with local guides and local drivers. We can’t mark up because our travelers pay guides directly.
- There are no middlemen. We book your train tickets online directly on the Italian train website. We book your skip-the-line Vatican tickets on the Vatican website, and your skip-the-line Colosseum tickets on the Colosseum ticketing website.
- We do not mark up. You pay us consulting fees and then all other costs are paid directly, using your credit card.
- We work within your budget. We’ll tell you what’s reasonable, of course. But we understand that even if you could go all out for this trip, you may not want to.
An Italy Destination Expert goes beyond hotels, tours, and transfers
Booking hotels, tours, and transfers is a great start. However, we do more. You can expect:
- We’ll give advice on what to see in a town, with nothing booked. Use our invaluable advice to maximize your time. Wander, explore, and discover – with our guidance.
- We’ll tell you which hiking trails we think you’d love. Our advice is tailored to your preferences: your physical fitness level, the number of hours or miles you’d like to hike, and the difficulty of the trail.
- We’ll send you shopping recommendations. Maybe you like browsing markets or discovering local boutiques. Or maybe you’d like to hit some famous brand-name stores. We’ll put together recommendations, information on opening hours, and even a route.
- We’ll provide logistics advice. For example, we’ll tell you how long it will take to drive from A to B, and where to park. We’ll include boat schedules in your itinerary, or book ferry tickets if you’d like. We’ll tell you how to take a taxi in Rome and not get fleeced. We’ll tell you how to take a private water taxi in Venice.
An Italy Destination Expert is not a Travel Agent
Let me be clear right off the bat that I have nothing but respect for competent travel agents. But the difference is that Italy Beyond the Obvious focuses on just Italy, while a travel agent can send you anywhere in the world.
Because they cannot provide a depth of knowledge about every worldwide destination, travel agents must rely on local tour operators. The tour operator creates the itinerary, which is usually a package with one price. The tour operator in turn, will engage a local destination expert to book local guides, activities, and transfers.
Everyone will mark up
Everyone in the chain from the local guide up to the travel agent needs to make money. The local guide will give their quote to the destination company. The destination company will mark up and then send the quote to the tour operator. The tour operator will mark up and then send the quote to the travel agent. The travel agent will mark up and give this quote to the customer.
We think you should skip all the mark-ups and work directly with a destination expert. Let us create your personalized Italy trip! Contact us to get started.