WHO we ARE
^^^ Our founder, Ian Cowan volunteering in an orphanage near Romania, Christmas 2013
Founded in 1987, Connection Tours was created as a place to provide authentic & trusted, customized, and ever-changing travel experiences that would benefit Canadians best.
We want Connection Custom Travel to be a place of inspiration, creativity, education, and respect. It should be a place where we can freely curate, and share meaningful and life-changing experiences around the world.
Through embracing and encouraging this specific travel style, we're building a community for people who demand authentic, meaningful experiences for themselves and others, creating trips from scratch that meet their personality & goals with a professional organization that focuses on growing and developing to meet their needs.
OUR travel MISSION
- TO TRAVEL WITH BENEFIT -
INSPIRE CANADIANS WITH TRAVEL EXPERIENCES THAT SPEAK TO THEIR NEEDS, BY CREATING AUTHENTIC & TAILOR MADE TOUR OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR SPECIAL INTEREST
OUR MAIN FOCUS
We focus on five key destinations, partnering with them to provide the Canadian travel industry with the most up-to-date resources and information. These destinations include Great Britain, North America, Europe, South East Asia, & Costa Rica. Over the years, we've come to harness an in-depth understanding of each of our destinations, which allows us to provide the travel industry and their Canadian travellers with the resources and expertise needed to make an extraordinarily authentic and tailor-made travel experience.
WE ARE WONDERFULLY DIFFERENT
We give the travel industry direct management for their clients. Our team actively involves themselves in every aspect of your program, from site inspections, to contributions in DMC events, travel shows and publications, to further enhance your journey.
At Connection, we see the value in conducting face-to-face meetings with our suppliers and partners. Our team's hands-on involvement guarantees that we are always aware of our destination offerings, ensuring unparalleled authenticity, which means our partners and travellers are confidently travelling ahead of the pack.
Tour Operations & Sales
"We custom design the itinerary at the level required, then we purchase directly from the destination – tours, accommodations, transport, entertainment and dining; all the components required to offer a travel experience second to none!
With direct management we are able to offer competitive rates without using intermediary suppliers, keeping costs down and project management significantly in your hands.Then we continue with you every step of the way."
Everyone should embark on at least one journey in their lives encouraging learning & discovery. Authentic travel experiences should be complimented with a first-hand discovery of culture, locally sourced dishes, and explorations that are deeply connected to the local community.
What we believe
OUR core VALUES
We believe that nothing can ignite an understanding more than experiencing it first-hand. We believe travel is an experience that brilliantly supports world history, a global community, and a healthy environment for travel. Travellers can celebrate a passion in any special interest, and thus a deeper understanding.
Whether on a Battlefield Tour, or participating in a performance program, we customize our programs to meet the requirements of each individual, following a curriculum that matches the objectives of the organizer. Our team works one on one with each group we travel by holding pre-tour educational talks with travellers, and a custom designed itinerary.
No matter where we are on tour or how many people we have with us, we believe it is our duty to represent Canadians at various events and ceremonies held around the world. We believe it is important to involve ourselves in the destinations we travel to for the sake of our relationship, and for the betterment of the destinations society, environment, and economy.
We involve ourselves in every aspect of the tour; booking directly, and integrating our travellers into the communities we work with. This means that wherever we travel, our travellers are welcomed into a warm and inviting community.
We operate primarily as a tour operator for Canadians, and with their best interests in mind, we set off to create strong relationships with the communities and tourist boards of Europe, Britain, South East Asia, & Costa Rica.
We like the road less travelled. We believe in authenticity. We believe in eating locally and staying in well matched accommodations booked directly by our own team. We believe in the usage of locally trusted and quality assured accommodations and restaurants with people we know and love.
You may have been to these destinations before, but you have never seen the world like this.
Our travel community reaches back to our beginnings in the 1980's. In that time, our founder, Ian Cowan ran as the principal escort for Canadian veterans and their families overseas attending special events, ceremonies, and oftentimes simply so that families could connect with where they had once lost a loved one (Please see The Battlefield Tours, which is still in full operation today). No matter what our traveller's motive, the team carried a passion and respect for these individuals that fostered repeat travel many years over again.
Some of our travellers have been on more than 16 official programs with us!
For you, this means joining a well-integrated, motivated community, filled with a wealth of knowledge and information that they are willing to share.
We continue to support our partnered travel agencies such as Dh Group Tours, as well as a multitude of independent agencies across Canada who require direct resources and information for customized travel to Britain, Europe, South East Asia, & Costa Rica.
We also maintain strong partnerships with tourist boards such as Visit Britain, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales, Visit Ireland, Flanders, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, the Thailand Authority of Tourism, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, & Destination Costa Rica. For more information about either our Canadian or Destination Partners, take a look at our Partner Pages. We support these partners by passing along their destination knowledge and beneficial resources on to our travel agencies across Canada.
Our primary goal is to honour the host communities we travel to, and the histories and culture that comes with them. By continuing to journey year after year back to Europe, South East Asia and Costa Rica, we build stronger relationships. For travellers this means greater opportunities and valuable experiences.
Our values don't just mean a lot to us, you can tell that they mean a lot to our travellers too.
MEET our TEAM
A combined experience of over 100 years, our team is a collection of specialists who span from a variety of different travel specialities. From air ticketing, to Military history & Battlefields, to sustainable tourism, our team comes with an extensive and brimming background.
From site-inspections to in-house destination clinics, almost everyone on our team has a hand in the destinations we work with. Over the years we've learned to be flexible and tactile, and change with our suppliers and destinations.
Ian & Samantha Cowan, are a father-daughter team that play a very active role in the implementation and execution of all of our tours, custom or packaged.
Ian has been operating tours since our start in 1986, working with a variety of affiliate travel agencies to custom design special interest programs to Europe. Today, Ian prides himself in hosting in-house destination clinics, webinars, and FAMS for the Canadian Travel Industry. He believes in creating partnerships for the prosperity of the outbound Canadian travel industry as a whole, providing up-to-date resources so that you get the best out of your travels in a socially responsible way. If you are already well-acquainted with Connection, there is no doubt you have had a meeting with Ian. From the beginning, Ian has always been present at site inspections, supplier meetings, and on tour, personally guiding and sharing his passion for authentic travel.
Samantha began following in her father's footsteps from a young age. As a child, she would assist with Ian's programs during summers and school breaks. After graduating from Ryerson University with a bachelor in tourism management, Samantha began to work with a variety of Canadian groups, guiding through the Canadian rocky mountains, the isles of the Caribbean, Europe and North America. Samantha joined Ian in 2012, and takes on her role with enthusiasm, passion and outside experience.
Our tour managers and guides are both locally sourced and Canadian based, but all come with long-standing relationships within our organization. They are all active members of our community and include historians, and special interest experts. All of our guides are full-time english-speaking professionals in the industry. This means that year to year, you can expect our guides to harbour a wealth of destination knowledge, stories and experiences which resonate with our communities in the destinations we work with. We are proud to have some of the best guides, escorts, and managers apart of our team, and only supply who we know and trust most.
THE BATTLEFIELD TOURS TEAM
Connection Custom became what it is today because of our principal tour program, the Battlefield Tours. Unlike any other Battlefield Team, our Battlefield Tours team is a collection of passionate military enthusiasts and Canadian families, supported by, Ian, who was the first principal escort for Canadian Veterans from its start in 1986. Our team actively supports the military history community of Canada, including an extensive network of other Battlefield Tour organizations, specialists, tourist boards, and individual communities in the destinations we visit. Our Battlefield Tours team takes great care in the tours we develop and create, taking part in site inspections, ceremonies, and the planning & implementation of our programs.
THE BATTLEFIELD COMMUNITY
With our dedicated Battlefield Tours Team comes a dedicated and passionate Battlefield Tours community. Together, they share stories, experiences and perspectives that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. Our community has helped us support those within the military community that need it, in an effort to show the long and close connections and histories we share with the destinations we work with. Together our Battlefield Community has helped us bring a deeper context and meaning to our tours, whether it is a Battlefield Tour or a tailor made an alternative experience. Like our tour managers, we have developed close relationships with our Battlefield and travel community who has had a tremendous effect on the way our tours are implemented and executed.
^^^ Sam and Ian on tour, Belgium, Trail of the Caribou, July 2016
^^^ You will see Ian, our head tour director with his drivers across the Battlefields of France every summer
^^^ Over 28 years, Ian and his battlefield team has worked with veterans of the World Wars from all across Canada, Britain, France, Belgium & Holland
^^^ The Battlefield Tours Team in 2008during the Thank You Canada Parade in Apeldoorn, Holland
OUR AFFILIATE TRAVEL AGENCY
Ian & Samantha are proudly affiliated with the DH Tour Agency in Burlington Ontario. Here, DH Tour agents have the ability to book and assemble packages for our retail travellers directly. For those who wish to custom build an itinerary with our team, or join us directly on either a Battlefield Tours Program, Connect Solo Travellers, or a tailor made program can easily package their air, insurance and other requirements through the knowledge and expertise logistics of our long-standing air ticketing specialists. We work together with DH Tour agency to determine the best travel arrangements with the best availability possible, and value them as a fundamental asset to our success in strategic outbound operations.