Today we’re talking to someone who lives and works in Barcelona, but who has been all over the globe. His passion for world travel is inspiration for those wanting to explore near and far. In fact, Jordi Vendrell spends his days helping people realize these dreams through his job at Viajes Toureg, which offers a portfolio of over 200 options on 4 continents and relies largely on the field experience of their agents like Jordi who have first-hand experience of many locations.
Jordi, please explain to us a little how you started with Viajes Tourag and your travel philosophy. We opened in 1982 in the Gracia neighborhood marketing the products of other tour operators. With a few years of experience under our belt, we started creating our own routes and travel options in 1990 with the SaharaDesert area of Algeria as our first expedition. The idea was, and still is, to present extraordinary experiences, whether or not there was a strong existing structure for touring the location. In other words, if a place is really worth it, we aren’t going to exclude it from our portfolio just because it was a little more difficult to organize. Our job is to present an easier way to access such places in the best conditions possible. What can a traveler find at your agency that isn´t available at any other? Trip that are truly personalized, whether it is individual or group travel, bespoke by industry professionals with more than 20 years of experience. Nowadays, the trend is to provide additional content aside the usual tourist attractions: trips to see eclipses or the Northern Lights; guided trips to see animal migrations in East Africa; travelling with a geographer to see the Aral Sea; photography-themed tours accompanied by professional photographers. You said that the Viajes Tuareg team explores options on the ground. When you return from a trip, what kind of criteria do you use to evaluate a destination? If there is no history of other tours operating in a location, how do you determine if it is going to be a success? The basic criteria is “is it possible?”: the price has to be matched to the target client, flights must be available for the requested dates, and we have to have a local operating partner that we trust. New routes always come some uncertainty, meaning that that those organizing it must take some risks. If the journey arouses interest and sells, the marketing was done well; if clients come back and are happy with their experience, then we know we have been successful in the delivery. But obviously, there is always a “first time.” Let’s put some thought to if, say, a place called Barcelona was to be the destination. What can you do for a day to get to know this city? What would you recommend as new experiences or adventures in this place? If you have just one day in the city, then you must cover the essentials. First a tour to orient yourself: the hop-on-hop-off bus or a walking tour of the city center is a good way to “see what there is to see.” Then you should seek out one of the city’s best views, from Collserola or Carretera de las Aigües so you can see where you were earlier on a different scale. After lunch, I would recommend doing a guided tour of Barcelona’s modernist architecture, such as one of Gaudi’s famous buildings (although this can be adjusted to personal taste – a walk in the Olympic Park or the gothic Quarter would do just as well). At night, I would recommend a walk and a drink in the El Born neighbourhood.