Nicholas Lim knows how important WiFi is to Asians. After all, the Trafalgar president (Asia) has received ample queries from travellers in the region about WiFi on board the company’s coaches in Europe.
“The answer is yes,” Lim, 44, offers via e-mail, referring to the availability of the connection service. “This is somewhat unique to our Asian culture as the need to stay connected is one of the lowest priorities from the rest of the world.”
The father of three isn’t complaining, though – catering to the needs of travellers is part and parcel of his bread and butter. In fact, he has enjoyed immensely working in the travel industry.
“It is all about people. No machines and no formulas. It is about making people smile and helping them have a great time seeing the world in its best and authentic way,” the Singaporean shares.
What should be taken into consideration when creating a good holiday itinerary?
There should be a good balance of guided sightseeing and free time to allow the traveller to learn more about the places they visit. Additionally, it is important for travellers to have first-hand cultural immersion experience and visit some hidden gems that only locals know about.
Personalisation is key to a good holiday, and travellers want to have a holiday where their interests and preferences are considered and incorporated within the journey. Mostly, they want to have an authentic, hassle-free and fun experience so we plan our holiday itineraries by making sure we take our guests to their happy place when they travel with us.
Do share some travel trends you’ve observed from Malaysian travellers.
Britain and Central Europe remain popular and we have also seen more travellers looking at newer destinations such as Northern Europe which includes Scandinavia and Iceland. Additionally, Eastern Europe and the Balkans are now a favourite among our guests.
We also see a trend of in-depth explorations to one or two countries with a more relaxing pace instead of visiting multiple countries in one trip. For 2018, we see countries steeped in history like Egypt, Greece and Turkey experiencing a resurgence of interest.
What should travellers take note of, before booking a holiday?
Decide if you want more time with the family, which sites or attractions you wish to visit, how you want to discover a new destination, or spend the time savouring local cuisine. Once this is done, it will make it easier for you to research and shop around for the best value.
Each destination has travellers from all around the world visiting it, so hotel prices can rise during peak season. You may even face a situation where it is difficult to book accommodation.
For the best savings and widest choice, book early. Build your air passage or airfares around what you wish to do and never the other way around. No doubt, airfares are an essential part of any travel but there are many options out there these days. What you wish to experience at your holiday destination is more important than making an impulse decision where you end up being restricted to specific travel dates as a result of the limitations.
What do you look for when booking a holiday?
Personally, I look for a good blend of sightseeing and free time to do my own exploration. I always enjoy being enriched by the culture and history of the destination. A good authentic experience is important to me.
What are some items that you always take with you on a vacation?
What has been your best travel experience?
My trip to Spain. I had no expectations and Spain was a very pleasant surprise. The trip had everything, from sightseeing to time on my own for discovery. Everything was taken care of and I didn’t have to bother about finding my way around. We had a good local travel director who brought us to see the Holy Grail in a church in Valencia.
Your worst travel experience?
Wandering around aimlessly in Bangkok on a free-and-easy holiday many years ago. I was just going from mall to mall with my friends and had no idea about the destination, culture or its people. What a complete waste of time it was.
What travelling tips can you share with us?
Always travel with layers and your wallet in your front pocket.
What’s the best travel advice you have received?
When you are in a new and foreign environment, always take a look back after a couple of steps to minimise the risk of getting lost. This is a trick used by the aborigines in Australia to avoid getting lost in the jungles and the bush.
How do you envision the future of travel and tourism landscape?
I see travellers being more discerning with their buying experiences. While technology is prevalent in the world of travel, the use of technology is essentially for distribution. What this means is the actual experience is still being fulfilled by people who bring the destination to life.
Complete the following sentences:
I would hop on a plane in a heartbeat for a meal in… Penang. If I’m seated next to an annoying passenger on a long-haul flight, I would… tell him off politely.