A Q&A with Ulla Hefel Böhler, CEO, Insight Vacations
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Insight Vacations announced a new 13-day premium guided journey, Venice & The Croatian Coast, A Women’s-Only Tour as part of its Wander Women series of journeys created for women, by women.
Travel Courier sat down with Ulla Hefel Böhler, Global CEO for Insight Vacations, to find out more about the trip slated for summer 2022 and what makes it unique like the eight #MakeTravelMatter Experiences that make up the itinerary.
Can you talk a bit about the Wander Women series in general and why Insight created tours for women, by women?
Our vision really was to develop the best and most meaningful women’s-only trips, developed for women by women that provide enriching travel experiences that cater to the diverse interests of women travellers and introduce them to successful women in destinations around the world, including business leaders, community leaders, artists, trailblazers and entrepreneurs.
Women are often the decision-makers when it comes to travel. In the past, they may have waited to travel with their partners, spouses or family members. More and more, women are not waiting around – they feel empowered to travel on their own schedule, the freedom to explore specific interests and meeting other like-minded women. They now have the spending power to do so.
You’ve just announced a new trip in the series. What can you tell me about the Venice & The Croatian Coast journey and what makes it special?
The new Wander Women journey is a wonderful 13-day itinerary, departing on June 22, 2022 starting in Venice, heading along the stunning Croatian coast, including Plitvice lakes as well as stays on the islands of Hvar and Korcula and ending in Dubrovnik. The itinerary is similar to our best-selling trip Country Roads of Croatia but the inclusions are uniquely curated for female travellers.
As a founding member of The TreadRight Foundation, Make Travel Matter Experiences are conscious and sustainable travel experiences available on Insight itineraries which are chosen with great care based on the positive social or environmental impact they have on their communities and those who experience them.
We are thrilled to be offering a unique combination of no fewer than eight #MakeTravelMatter Experiences designed to uplift local women in their communities and ensure Insight’s travels are used as a force for good while supporting the United Nations’ Global Goals. We also feature Insight Choice inclusions such as yoga sessions or hikes. Guests will indulge in wonderful foodie experiences featuring farm-to-table or sea-to-table dining with locally sourced seafood and the freshest oysters in Mali Ston to a beer tasting at Croatia’s first Women’s Co-op Brewery. They will also enjoy the iconic sites that anyone visiting this area wouldn’t want to miss such as Plitvice National Park, Diocletian’s Palace in Split and Dubrovnik.
The journey will be even more impactful since TreadRight ‘Planet’ Ambassador and filmmaker Céline Cousteau will be a special guest on this women’s-only guided tour to Croatia.
TreadRight ‘Planet’ Ambassador and environmentalist, Céline Cousteau will be a special guest on the Croatia trip.
Can you talk about what went on behind the scenes in coming up with the itinerary and what experiences were key to include, and why?
I’ve got an incredible and coincidentally, all female – Travel Experiences Team and when I expressed the desire to launch a series of women’s-only tours last year they were literally doing cartwheels in the office and came up with a number of brilliant suggestions around destinations and experiences.
It was absolute key for us to include #MakeTravelMatter Experiences that allow our guests to have a deeper and more meaningful experience in the destination and introduce travellers to inspiring women in the destination but also to support local women. Female clients are yearning for uplifting and memorable experiences.
Why do you think it’s important for travel companies to actively call out gender biases and inequality?
Travel has a really important role to play in this regard on so many different levels. Inclusivity, empowerment and opportunity are values which are very close to my heart and everyone in our team. More than 50 per cent of the global workforce in our industry are women.
By creating an environment where women feel empowered, we have seen significant growth in the number of women in leadership roles. Our global executive team consists of outstanding professionals, more than half of which are women. We will always hire for talent and the right cultural fit to ensure we have the best possible team and I love seeing how over the last few years, more women are putting themselves forward for senior leadership positions and excelling in their roles.
Can you share some details about how the company is celebrating women’s achievements?
We are celebrating women’s achievements by helping to create an inclusive world through experiences that connect our guests with women artisans, entrepreneurs, business and community leaders as well as by hiring women Travel Directors, Local Experts, Coach Drivers, Experiences Hosts, etc.
Some of the things that caught my attention about the trip were the Make Travel Matter experiences and having Céline Cousteau come along as a guest in Croatia. Can you talk more about that?
There are a total of eight #MakeTravelMatter Experiences on this trip, several of which are unique to this journey. I’d like to call out three specific ones:
New Make Travel Matter Experience: Fonda Fish Farm in Piran, Slovenia: Guests will travel to Slovenia and meet Irena Fonda, a renowned and award-winning molecular biologist who is carrying out important conservation work in the protection of indigenous species of the Golf of Piran. They will join her on a short boat ride to visit her family’s fish farm and learn about the breeding of the highest quality sustainable sea bass.
New Make Travel Matter Experience: DEŠA Regional Centre, Dubrovnik: Guests will visit the workshop of DEŠA (humanitarian and peace organization), founded in 1993. DEŠA helps women and their families, including refugees, better cope with various hardships and challenges, by promoting traditional cuisine and small handicrafts through their workshop.
New Make Travel Matter Experience: AR Art Studio, Gruda Croatia: In the heart of the Konvale region, clients will meet passionate artist, Antonia Rusković Radonić, at her studio, who is working to preserve the local silk traditions and embroidery techniques originating in the 15th century. She is also hosting various educational programs and is helping to re-introduce men’s and women’s traditional folk costumes.
Céline Cousteau is our TreadRight ‘Planet’ Ambassador, a documentary filmmaker and environmentalist and when we spoke to her about this new journey and all of the incredible #MakeTravelMatter Experiences, she was immediately up for joining in! Anyone who’s met Céline before knows how passionate and inspiring she is and for our guests to be able to spend time with her, will make this once-in-a-lifetime trip even more meaningful and unforgettable.
Do you have anything to add?
We always appreciate the support of our valued Travel Advisors and this special women’s-only guided tour is available with limited space as a single departure date, so clients are encouraged to book early to secure their spot.
Also, the first women’s-only trip, Inspirational India was launched last year and is set to depart in October 2021 with a few seats still available.