Firebird Tours - Our Story and Our Culture

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Vernazza, one of the 5 centuries-old villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy.

Our Story

Our Story

How we started and what makes us different

Our company’s journey started in 2007, when we opened a travel agency in New York. During the years that followed, we have become one of the leading travel companies for multi-destination trips to Europe. We did not invent the wheel, but we did bring some new ideas to the otherwise conservative travel industry. In the process, we discovered our unique features, which enabled us to create better products and to bring superior value to our customers. We are just at the beginning of our journey and not even the global pandemic will derail us. Guided by our values and unique approach, we will continue to create astounding products, which will be even more relevant in the world emerging after the pandemic. This is our brief story that shows how we are wired. We invite you to explore it.

Our Vision

Birth of the Firebird

How we became different

In 2007 it seemed that the whole world was on the move as more and more people discovered the joy of international travel. We joined the travel industry and started organizing trips to Eastern Europe. Eventually, we then extended to Scandinavia, Southern Europe, and Great Britain.

The travel industry could be divided into three groups. First, companies that offered group travel. Second, boutique luxury travel agencies, and third, online booking agencies (OTAs).

We never liked the concept of group tours because it generally meant setting customers on a bus for a week and selling substandard services under the pretence of “the experiences of a lifetime”. That was not our idea of quality international tourism. At the same time, we did not want to be one of the boutique agencies, which partnered up with a local operator, added hefty markups, and overcharged customers. As for online booking services, they were not really useful for planning complex trips. They did not have services other than accommodation and air tickets and they overcharged on good hotels.

We wanted to develop multi-destination trips that could be booked online as easily as a ticket, but contained the most optimal options for the customers.

While the concept was unique, it was not simple. We had to create an outstanding product that would rival luxury competitors, while costing less for our customers, and that could be booked online conveniently and effortlessly. How do you organize an awesome travel experience that costs half the price?

Our Values

Becoming Firebird

Identifying what's important

In fact, accomplishing something like this is like building a rocket. You must understand which parts are important and which are not. Then, you proceed to remove the unimportant parts and focus on getting the price down on those important aspects as much as you can. Identifying what’s important and what is not is imperative to our business model. We identified that our customers valued personalized attention and ability to customize trips, possibility to combine various destinations, accommodation in fine central hotels, and being guided by local professional guides. We concluded that customers prefer that we share our insights with them and do it not through robots or websites, but with actual people.

We identified that certain things were not important for our customers, such as printed brochures and catalogues, participating in conferences and trade fares, network of agents who resell tours, publications in magazines, and recognition by trendy travel opinion leaders. We concluded that all those things increase the price, not the value of the product, so we threw them out of the window. We also focused on creating a tour program in a way to enhance customer experience while minimizing costs. You can accomplish that by carefully looking at each destination and finding ways to make a perfect program, how to avoid lines or crowds, and how to experience each destination at its full.

Our partnership with best local guides has been indispensable for accumulating this knowledge and embedding it into the core of our programs. In addition, we gathered a team of Destination Specialists. Their sole purpose was to advise customers, to help them make better choices and decisions. And, because we had real people who communicate to customers, we did not need to resell our tours through agency networks. This alone, however seemingly trivial, has helped us to reduce prices for our customers by an enormous 15%!

Finally, we realized that to better control quality and to deliver better prices to our customers, we needed to organize our own tour operator, which will remove unnecessary links in the supply chain. Today, from the moment you contact us to the moment you travel, your trip is carefully planned, organized, and managed by our teams throughout Europe, not by other companies or tour operators. This is how we managed to make outstanding tours for you for half the price.

"Travel Better"

"Travel Better"

Creating a better travel experience

Today, almost every travel company has a website, and you can book services online. However, booking websites are of little help if you are planning a multi-destination trip to more than one country.

Our tour vs Do it yourself approach

First of all, it is not necessarily cheaper. In reality, booking everything yourself rarely gets you the best value and the price. You may be able to find a good price on a few things, but other things will not sync up. You can get a great deal on hotels in one city, but not in the following one.

Secondly, it is not necessarily better to plan a trip yourself. Our most popular tour to Scandinavia has 34 different local suppliers. Imagine booking their services separately and synching all elements throughout. Imagine how much research you will need to do to get something good done. There are many factors that impact your trip, like local rules, schedules, crowds, and we arm you with this knowledge prior and throughout travelling with us.

Third, the best things, like the best hotels, cost more on online booking websites than the prices at which we can get them. We use these savings to enhance your trip with other great features, like private drivers and professional guides.

And finally, if anything goes wrong on your trip planned by yourself (late flight, missed train, wrong dates, you name it), your entire trip will be ruined. When you use our help, you have a dedicated team at your command to make any adjustments needed to ensure that you will have the trip of a lifetime.

Our tours vs group tours (aka bus tours)

Many people have tried going on group tours. If you genuinely like being on a bus with a group of other people for a prolonged period - like 4 hours per day, every day for 7 days - then group travel is something for you. We understand that some people like this mode of travel because they like to be in a company, but objectively speaking, it is a poor travel experience, as programs are designed to keep buses outside of city centres as much as possible (to reduce costs). And most of the time the group is led by a “group leader” who is not a professional local guide to any of the destinations that you visit.

While some people may like group travel, we have learned from our customers that most of them will “never do it again” after trying both a group tour and going on one of our private tours.

Premium quality for a better price

So, is an expensive luxury tour the only way to have a meaningful travel experience? We don’t think so. In fact, we made it our mission to organize tours that are good as luxury tours but cost much less (much closer to the price of a typical group tour).

We concluded that customers want private experiences with fine hotels and professional guides (real locals!), but they prefer to pay less for their trip than typically charged by boutique companies.

We understood that every customer is different and has their own ideas for the trip. So, we developed an amazing pool of supply. We work with thousands of suppliers (while most other companies work with just a few). It took us years to discover the best suppliers in each destination and we had a team dedicated just to that. Today, we have an unsurpassed choice of travel services in every European country and many Asian as well, which means that we can build more amazing trips for you.

We understood that customers have many ideas for their trips and that all trips are different, so we made customization not just possible, but embedded into our service. We built the world’s first real online tour builder platform that empowers our teams and our customers to plan amazing trips with ease (Explore online trip builder)

Our Culture

Our Culture

Our beliefs and things we consider important 

We believe that customer value is created by focusing on what’s important, which is planning the best program for the customer, working with the best local suppliers, training our team to be helpful and knowledgeable.

We don’t believe, and we don’t spend resources on creating a perception of value for our services. We do not pay much attention to opinion influencers from elaborate travel magazines or travel sections of major newspapers. Unlike many other companies, we do not give our free trips in exchange for their favourable reviews and recommendations. We never wanted to be part of this story, which is unethical and only increases the price for the end customer.

We never wasted time on online forums, where so-called experts opine about companies, products, or services, which they have never used. We never wanted to be part of this story either. Instead of creating false perceptions and manipulating opinions, we focused on creating real value - we focused on our customers, on our suppliers and partners, on our teams, and on our trips, to bring better service at a better price for our customers.

We gathered a team of young ambitious people and trained them extensively to know more about destinations and to be helpful to customers. We developed a culture of constant improvement in everything that we do, and we said that “travel better” will be our slogan that represents our incessant desire to organize the most amazing journeys for our customers.

Our investment in human intelligence has been our secret ingredient and our knowledgeable, hard-working, and compassionate team is our greatest asset for the future.