Interview with Rachel A. Najar, European Operations Manager, Image Tours
1. You recently joined ETOA as a new active member. Can you tell us more about Image Tours and your company’s history?
Image tours is a family owned company, created in 1939 in Amsterdam by Sr. Roelof Postmaa, an educator who believed that travel broadens one’s horizon and enriches one’s mind. Mr Postmaa understood people’s need for guidance in planning their travel and developed a successful business hosting tours throughout Europe.
In 1960, his son, Roelof Jr., opened an office in Grand Rapids, Michigan and began offering the company’s signature HEART OF EUROPE ® tour to groups such as fraternal organisations, employee associations, churches, school choirs, orchestras, and marching bands. In 1986 the company began partnering with travel agencies to offer their escorted Europe tours to the general public, thereby becoming firmly established throughout the United States. Nowadays the company is still run by the same family (Roelof Jr.’s daughter), often praised by both travellers and travel agents for courteous service, meticulous traveller preparation, and flawless execution of its tours.
The company’s HEART OF EUROPE ® tour is now in its 60th year and has been enjoyed by thousands of first-time travellers to Europe. In addition to the HEART OF EUROPE ® tour, Image Tours offers 10 other fine European tours.
2. How has Image Tours adapted to the new reality and planned for the re-start of travel?
Image Tours has been committed to remaining poised for a return to group travel as soon as it is comfortable to do so. We continue to communicate and work with our hotels and service providers to discuss and adapt to any new policies we may need to implement once borders open again. Through the assistance of our Travel Protection underwriters, we were able to offer all 2020 clients the opportunity to postpone travel up to 2 years from their original departure date without penalty. Of our 2020 passengers, almost 90% agreed to the postponement. In January 2021, we opened our 2021 and 2022 departures for new reservations. The opening of the 2022 dates is six months earlier than normal so that clients have options and can begin making plans to travel once they are ready!
3. You recently took part in ETOA’s North American Marketplace. What destinations and ideas did the event inspire you to consider?
I am so pleased to have been able to participate in ETOA’s North American Marketplace and to now be a member of ETOA! I really appreciated everyone’s positivity and desire for collaboration to help us all find our way back to doing what we love! I also enjoyed speaking with several of my existing suppliers. After over a year of no activity, it was really great to see each other and talk about bringing our groups back as soon as we are able to do so.
Image Tours takes a thoughtful approach to itinerary changes and new itinerary development. Meeting the ETOA suppliers and learning about several new and unique experiences and destinations was really inspiring. I am so pleased to be a part of the ETOA community!