Vacations aren’t what they used to be. While some families may be happy with a stay on the beach at an all-inclusive resort, others want more immersive experiences for their holiday travel.
Last spring, Michelle Parsons and her 13-year-old son, Jack, met friends for a vacation in Paris. The two teens and two moms saw some of the finer sights of Paris, but with a twist. Parsons lined up a tour guide who specializes in sight-seeing tours for teens.
“The boys are fascinated by architecture and history,” Parsons explains. “The guide made it interesting … really involved them and engaged with them and they had a lot of gratitude for the experience.”
Parsons’s passion for travel began when she studied French in high school and college. A trip to Paris was love at first sight, inspiring a life of continued travel and ultimately, the birth of North Shore Travel. Through this start-up consultancy, she provides custom travel experiences for families and corporations desiring more specialized vacations and corporate meetings.
Call it Travel 2.0.
With so many options, planning trips—especially trips with children—can be both frustrating and time-consuming. With the numerous online travel sites available, just booking flights can be maddening. It’s difficult to discover the travel options available, especially when it comes to educational activities for kids.
“While the Internet has opened up a whole new world for everyone, it’s made travel more complicated,” says Parsons. “I’m able to do the research that clients desire, especially those who want educational trips for their children. For corporate travel, creating the perfect, unique experiences for executives and their families is really exciting.” In addition to research, Parsons’s relationship with Virtuoso, a luxury travel advisory group, allows her to offer benefits to clients such as worry-free, expert planning, unforgettable luxury experiences, exclusive perks, and priority upgrades. She also remains available to clients during the duration of their trips in case of unexpected complications.
“If there are challenges during customer trips, I am there to support them every step of the way,” Parsons says. “I can make the necessary contacts to address the issues.”
Parsons’s engagements with clients begin with a personal touch, getting to know them and their interests, what they’re looking for in their travel experience, and overall travel preferences. From there, she shapes two or three itineraries that clients can review and adjust based on their whims.
“In order to initiate the travel planning process, there are some basic questions such as how many people are traveling, preferred destinations, and amenities,” she explains. “But I really want to get to know what topics my clients and their families are interested in and create a truly special and memorable travel experience.”
For corporations and corporate board meetings or outings, such factors as work time vs. play time are considered.
In a sense, North Shore Travel is an extension of Parsons’s longtime love of travel planning. Her adventurous spirit has over the years led her to plan trips for friends and family, and now she’s turned that experience into her new venture.
“Families don’t get to take vacations that often,” she says. “North Shore Travel stays up to date on the latest travel trends and destinations to maximize the limited time clients have for their vacations.”
Most importantly, Parsons wants to pass along the travel bug she got years ago in Paris to other families. “I still get a rush when I get on a plane and I want others to experience that excitement when they depart on their next adventure,” she adds.
For more information about North Shore Travel, call 847-830-5953 or visit northshoretravel.com.