A few weeks ago, four people had a nice dinner in the heart of the town of Monmouth, just inside the Welsh border, where Peter Sommer Travels is based.
The hosts were Peter Sommer, the founder and leader of Peter Sommer Travels, and his wife Elin Sommer, whose many talents and whose diligence contribute so much to making the company succeed. Their guests were Julie Sibley and Michael Metcalfe, and the occasion was that both of them have been with Peter Sommer Travels for ten years. A decade - and what a decade! During that period, Peter Sommer has grown from a company offering 18 tours on 12 different itineraries in two countries (2009) to one that is planning 45 scheduled trips on 31 itineraries in six countries in 2020, plus many add-ons, private gulet cruises and tailor-made land tours.
Julie, with a background in project management in the print industry, joined us as office and operations manager then, and while she still bears that title, her role is a lot more than these words imply. She talks to and writes to hundreds of guests or potential guests every year, often in long back-and-forth conversations, because we strive to find out what our guests need and want, and we excel in making that happen. For many guests, hers is the first voice they hear of Peter Sommer Travels. Julie's outgoing personality, her care for people, her humour and her understanding of our travel offers are an enormous contribution to our work. She often joins our tour reconnoitres and contributes her careful judgement to tour design, and as a result she has seen many of the places we visit and met nearly all of our tour experts. This enables her to understand the itineraries we offer and to communicate their character and content in a first-hand way. During the travel season, when we have five or six, sometimes even up to nine, itineraries running at the same time, Julie is at the heart of things, knowing who is where and doing what, including guests, guides, transfer vehicles, boats, and so on - an enormous task. It is her joyful spirit and her quick mind that make things work so many times. Ten years of her hard work have been and are a boon to us.
Michael, or Dr. Metcalfe, is initially an historian specialised in Hellenic Epigraphy, the reading of Greek inscriptions. He studied in London (University College) and spent much time doing fieldwork in Asia Minor (Western Turkey) and the adjacent Greek Islands, as well as in and around Athens, where he held prestigious scholarships at the BSA (the British School at Athens, a highly respectable research institute). He has been spending much of his time in Sicily since, where he has broad academic contacts, exploring the archaeology of the island in great detail, as well as other parts of Italy. Michael has many roles in Peter Sommer Travels. He is the designer or co-designer of all our Italian itineraries, and he has been similarly involved in many of our Greek offers, several of our tours in Turkey and all of our activities in the UK. Michael is as passionate as he is knowledgeable about the history of all the areas he works with, and many of our guests know him as an inspiring and impressive tour expert. These days, he is especially engaged with designing our tailor-made land tours and gulet charters, contributing all his energy and knowledge, his wide-ranging travel experience and his instinctive sense of what makes a good narrative. Without him, we would not be what we are.
At Peter Sommer Travels, we are proud of our success, and appreciative of all the hard work that goes into it. Thank you, Julie. and thank you, Michael. We look forward to our next decade with you.