Slow Tours-helping people enjoy personalised, immersive tours since 2007
Slow Tours was established as a tour operator in 2007, running 8-day tours in all the beautiful regions of France, the stunning Italian Lakes and the Catalonia region of Spain, in the best seasons of Spring and Autumn. Delightful tours, no rushing, small groups, where we went off the beaten track, had a lot of fun, visited so many chateaux, beautiful rivers, lakes and beaches, and indulged ourselves and our guests in delicious wine-tasting and gastronomic meals.
Many of our clients asked if we knew other tour operators who operated with the same philosophy, leisurely paced, small group tours, in other European countries, and, after many hours of trawling the internet to find them, we started to work in a casual way with small and medium, often family businesses, gradually increasing our small network of partners. In 2014, we decided to take a leap and seriously find partners across more countries, and with a wider range of activities including bike and barge tours (on canals and rivers), bike and boat tours (island-hopping), walking tours, cycling tours, tall ships sail and bike tours, adventure tours, and many more. We also increased our range of fabulous food tours and wine tours. In 2017, there were over 400 hand-picked tours on our website, and we have an increasing number of clients who are members of our Slow Travel Club (automatic membership when you travel with us). Our monthly Travel Ideas Newsletter goes out to a much wider audience, many of whom are followers of our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages. You can also find us on our currenlty new channel on Youtube.
Why Slow Tours?
- Customer Service: Hand-picked partners in whom we trust to deliver great service.
- Best Selection: The best range of escorted small group tours and and independent, self-guided tours in Europe to choose from
- Secure payment: Secure booking onsite through Stripe, the largest online provider of financial payment services.
- Support: Contact us for support services on any of our tours - email or telephone support.
- Reviews: Customer reviews available, and being constantly updated
Where did the idea of 'Slow Tours' come from?
Director of the company. Carol Haslam, had lived in France for almost 6 years between 1996-2002. During that time, many of her Australian friends visited, commenting that the best time they spent in France was when Carol took them out on day excursions while staying in the studio apartment attached to her Mediterranean villa, where she lived with two of her children. Guests who stayed on and hired cars found it stressful. Those who took tours in large coaches covering too many cities and travelling on auto-routes found them too busy and impersonal. They hated staying just one or two nights and moving on early in the morning, and preferred to stay long enough to unpack their bags for a more relaxed and 'at home' feeling. Above all, the moment an umbrella or flag went up to herd them back onto a bus, was almost always at the same moment they had started to enjoy themselves, and wanted to extend their time where they were visiting.
So Carol took notes of what was good, what was missing, what needed to be changed and found a niche in the market for tours which were in smaller groups, more personalised, at an easy pace with flexible itineraries.
Established in 2007
In 2007, after much planning and visiting suitable authentic accommodation for guests in France (converted farmhouses, chateaux and manor houses with gardens), Carol created 'Slow Tours' - a business which was at that time on the leading edge of the 'Slow Travel' movement, and connected with the 'Slow Food' concept. In small groups, with flexible itineraries, visiting important sites, with many 'off-the-track' visits, a range of local good food restaurant, bistro and cafe experiences, wine-tasting and much more, Carol has been running tours herself in many regions of France, and across the border into the Italian lakes and Catalonia region of Spain.
Slow Tours Europe
In 2014, after 7 years of running up to 10 x week-long tours a year, a new website was required to keep up with the changing technical environment. With help from some of the team, Carol decided to develop the business further. Over previous years, some of Slow Tours clients had asked if Carol knew other tour operators who ran similar tours in other European countries. Trawling the internet finding such businesses was not a short nor an easy task, but friendships were made with similar businesses, and this was the foundation of the new 'Slow Tours Europe' as a tour operator and wholesaler.
A new website was finally launched in February 2016, with regular additions of new partners' tours, including language schools with excursions, to encourage clients to better understand the culture of another country, still retaining the original concept of escorted small group 'exploring and culture tours'.
Tourism vs Travel - the Slow Tours philosophy
You may ask what the difference is between travel and tourism. This is our view
- Travel broadens the mind; is a way to learn about different cultures and ways of living; it helps people to find friends in other places, to learn about their culinary specialites. It allows the traveller to expand his or her knowledge of another country's history and goeography, its language and art, music and architecture, flora and fauna. We come in small numbers, valuing and protecting the environment and way of life of the people and countries we visit.
- Tourism is often disliked by locals because of the overwhelming volume of people arriving in one place at one time. It is mass volume for creating wealth for the multi-national corporations, although some of the local businesses may benefit financially from them being there. Those who lose their previously enjoyable lifestyle because of mass tourism are the ones who are most heavily impacted.
We walk a mile in your shoes....
We work with over 80 partners in Europe, mostly small, medium and family businesses. We run some of our own tours, but where we find a local business running tours with the same philosophy as us, we work with them instead of setting up in competition with them. We select our partners, we check out their tours, we are determined to offer the best service to our clients, and feel this is how we can do that in a way which is sustainable and good for everyone. We walk a mile in your shoes, to make sure our tours will satisfy our clients, and we enjoy every minute of it!
A large range of tours in Europe
By June 2017 over 400 tours were on the website, hand-picked, great partner companies, people we are proud to work with. We have done the hard work so clients can select the Slow Tour of their choice, book and pay online. For a more personal experience, an email or telephone contact is provided on the website. WE are and will remain a 'boutique' tour operator.
As the company grows so does the team, and there is a really enthusiastic one at Slow Tours, with a back office of great people involved in the development of the company.
Slow Tours Team
Director (and occasional tour guide), Carol has an IT background in systems analysis, over 30 years as a business consultant, still works with family businesses (Family Business Australia) and has 12 years in the travel business. She is bilingual French and speaks enough German, Italian and Spanish to get by (although gets a bit rusty!).
Tenneale started in Sales & Marketing in January 2017, and with 10 years experience as a travel consultant is a very important person at Slow Tours. Tenneale is a creative and innovative person with great experience in Social Media.
Back Office :
Chris Jenner - Marketing Strategy - Chris had us up and running in no time in 2016 when our new website was launched.
Lowen Partridge - Pear Tree Brand Strategy who keeps us on track with our branding strategy
Zac Bailey and his team - Our technical and website gurus, working hard to provide the best user experience on desktop, tablet and mobile.
Zoe Dixon - A warm welcome to our new intern from Flinders University who has a project of getting our Youtube channel up and working (please subscribe to our channel at youtube.com/slowtours to help Zoe in her project.)
A growing company
As the company develops further, we are looking for tours which fit our criteria and as we find new partners our offering will continue to grow. The Slow Tours Travelers Club has been created to show our appreciation to people who book tours with us. All you need do to become a member is to travel with us! Benefits are in receiving first offers on early bird specials and a discount on future tours.
For further information on our tours, our partners and Club membership, please contact us at [email protected]
Check out all Slow Tours and use the search feature to find your favourite European experiences.