Whether you’re building a backyard deck or repairing a lawnmower engine, sometimes it’s best to enlist the help of a professional – and taking a trip to theatre festivals is no different.
For the past 15 years, Theatre Vacations has been connecting travellers with the best sights and sounds of the Festival cities. The company offers fully customizable, all-inclusive theatre packages to both the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario and Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From play tickets to meals and accommodations, Theatre Vacations has you covered.
“People that travel from longer distances have no idea of the area,” said David Hyde, president of Theatre Vacations. “We live here… We understand the most efficient use of your time.”
The getaways offered by Theatre Vacations are a vast departure from the tour packages of yesteryear. Though he is equipped to handle large tours, Hyde’s company specializes in giving individual people, couples and small groups the full Stratford Festival or Shaw Festival experience.
Would-be theatregoers can purchase and customize travel packages for either city by phone or at Theatre Vacation’s website – choosing the plays they see, places they dine and hotels they stay in. Hyde and his team take care of the rest, preparing a complete itinerary for every guest they serve.
Hyde, a lifelong theatre lover, has been equally passionate about travel planning since he worked in the tourism business during summer holidays as a teenager. Even after he graduated teachers college and was offered a job in the field, Hyde chose to blaze his own trail.
“I love travel planning. I see the jigsaw of it,” said Hyde. “The biggest thrill for me is to see someone come in and visit these areas who has never been here before, because I know that once they go to Stratford or once they go to Niagara-on-the-Lake they are going to return.”
Hyde wants each one of his clients to have the best possible experience and goes above and beyond to make sure that happens – even taking covert trips to prospective attractions to scout them out ahead of time.
“We always go there, we stay in the hotels and see the service… We don’t sell anything we haven’t experienced ourselves,” he said. “It all comes down to using suppliers that provide high quality product and understand… what we expect for our customers.”
Hyde and his team are never too far away if you require them during your stay. After-hours calls are not routed to an overseas call centre but answered promptly by a member of the Theatre Vacations staff.
And though enlisting professional help to plan a trip might seem like a costly option, Theatre Vacations strives to keep their prices in line with what you would pay if you undertook all the planning independently.
Opting for an all-inclusive, pre-planned theatre package can take the stress off of busy people trying to piece together their own getaway.
“Having somebody else do some of the ground-work for us can be really helpful and allow us to enjoy the time we do have away from our busy schedules,” said Cathy Rehberg, media relations officer for the Stratford Tourism Alliance.
“If someone who knows about the community is planning your itinerary it helps you to have the best overall experience… You won’t miss the key activities that are going on,” she said.
Whether is a trip to the Stratford Festival or a overnight excursion to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Shaw Festival, for Hyde one overarching philosophy informs all the work he and his team do.
“We’re dream merchants. We’re not selling anything tangible… But we’re selling you a memory or experience,” said Hyde.