Tell us about your background and how you landed the job as a Journey Designer for Scenic?
As a former Officer in the Navy, I am no stranger to life as a traveller and planning journeys. For over eleven years, I made my way through Asia, the Pacific, the USA and the Indian Ocean. In 2015, after 15 years at various travel companies specialising in Asia and the sub-continent, I joined Scenic as a Journey Designer looking after Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China
, Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet and Japan
My extensive background in touring and cruising has helped with all aspects of this role, including the research, planning and designing of every journey and cruise in Scenic’s Asia portfolio.
What does the typical day of a Journey Designer look like?
This varies depending on the time of year, whether we are creating the next season’s brochures, monitoring tours on the ground in multiple countries, training staff and agents, planning and researching new itineraries, helping plan new marketing campaigns or travelling in country for quality control, meetings with suppliers and inspecting new experiences.
How much travel do you do per year?
I do about five trips a year for around two weeks at a time. These are a mix of inspection and quality control trips with research, familiarisation and meeting agendas thrown in. Looking after 12 countries and territories takes time to ensure your eyes and ears pick up every detail.
What is your favourite destination and why?
I don’t have a favourite. I like each country for their various cultural difference, cities and regions.
What has been the most obscure destination you’ve visited?
Touring in Bhutan in 2006, back when no one knew it existed and only 16,000 foreigners visited the country that year.
Which destination is set to be the next big thing?
What factors make up the perfect itinerary?
Variety in what you eat, see and do each day. Immersive and interactive activities always give the best experiences and memories.
How do you research destinations and experiences?
Getting on the ground and working with the local tourist offices, Tour Directors and operators. First-hand experience in putting together an experience on location always delivers the best results.
What are some of the challenges you have to account for?
Logistics and timings are the biggest parameters that will determine if something will work or not. We always have to ask the question - is it a unique experience to Scenic or can we do a standard inclusion better? Parameters outside of our control, like domestic flight schedule changes, that impact planned activities are always the most frustrating.
What has been your favourite itinerary to create?
Having designed the 13 Day Treasures of the Mekong and for it to win ‘Best River Cruise itinerary’ at the 2018 British Cruise Awards, was pretty special.
What is the most popular Scenic itinerary (river and cruise)?
For the Mekong, the 17 Day Highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia and the 22 Day Essence of Vietnam and Cambodia. For Myanmar the 18 Day Mystical Myanmar with Inle Lake. All tours include a Scenic river cruise on the most luxurious ships on the Mekong and Irrawaddy Rivers.
Any tips for travellers trying to decide between itineraries?
Look closely at the inclusions and what is and is not included. Ask yourself - will you ever return to this destination? If not, do the longest tour and make it truly worth your while to explore that destination. I get this feedback all the time from those who chose the 18 Day Mystical Myanmar itinerary, whereas those who booked the shorter 11 and 14 day options feel they have missed out on so many different experiences.