In 2022 ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours celebrates 50 years of leading guided bicycle tours in Europe and South America. The international family-owned company was (among) the first North American active travel tour operators to guide cyclists across Italy back in 1972. Today, ExperiencePlus! annually leads more than 200 departures in 20 countries across Europe and South America.
“We are incredibly grateful to be celebrating such a major milestone in 2022,” says Maria Elena Price, co-owner and daughter of Rick and Paola Price – founders of ExperiencePlus! Her older sister Monica Price manages BikesPlus, their Italian tour operator based in Italy.
“We couldn’t have gotten to this point without the strong foundation built by our parents – a philosophy of travel and trip design grounded in the concepts of true cultural immersion and guided independence – letting people travel at their own pace, but with all the pieces and logistics in place. More importantly, we wouldn’t have come this far without the support of our travelers, staff and tour leaders.”
ExperiencePlus! started as a fun way to help a young couple do what they love most: explore the world under human power. Founders Rick and Paola Price were in their early 20s when they led their first bicycle tour from Forli, Italy, to Pisa in 1972. The business didn’t take off until the mid-90s when Rick changed careers from academic to full-time tour operator.
Sisters Monica and Maria Elena purchased the business from their parents in 2008 and spent the next 14 years building a brand that is recognized for innovation, and partnerships. “We grew up in this business and recognize how lucky we are that our parents were pioneers in making adventure travel a career,” the younger Price sister says. “Today we are thrilled to be part of the immense growth that has taken place in this niche industry over the past 10 years.”
When ExperiencePlus! created its sister company, BikesPlus, based in Italy and managed by older sister Monica Price, the company expanded its ability to support travelers and other tour organizers. Most ExperiencePlus! customers are from the U.S., Canada and Australia and seek out the company’s full service, guided bicycle tour offerings. BikesPlus specializes in self-guided bicycle tours in Italy through its website Cycle Europe, and partners with other European and global tour organizers and operators to provide bicycles, vans, and guides for their own trip operations. The collective vision of the two companies has not changed over the years: to help more people explore the world and connect with new places in a genuine and responsible way.
The business model has enabled the Price sisters to rapidly grow their tour offerings, hire more local guides, and build a large fleet of quality bicycles that are mindfully built with long-lasting materials. “Unlike a lot of tour operators out there, we don’t buy a new fleet of bikes every season,” says Maria Elena Price. “In 2009 we decided to start to invest in titanium frames and carbon forks, we’ve found this is a great way to cut down on our expenses over the long haul, while reducing our overall environmental impact by not having to renew the fleet every year.”
The company’s philosophy of tour design and leading also makes a social and hopefully a personal impact on their travelers. Thanks to family connections in Paola Malpezzi Price’s hometown of Forli, Italy, ExperiencePlus! customers have always received first-hand exposure to local customs and traditions, such as pasta-making demonstrations and lunch at the family farm. In fact, local immersion is woven into all ExperiencePlus! tours. The company hires local guides whose personal histories and first-hand knowledge of place help shape traveler experiences. They also seek out smaller hotels that cultivate a sense of place.
“What we’ve seen is that people want to travel the world responsibly – responsibly in terms of environmental impact and in terms of how they interact with different cultures,” she continues. “People value the opportunity to experience a country and its culture and not have to get into a vehicle if they don’t want to. They get hooked and keep coming back on new trips in new destinations. That cycle of satisfaction is hugely rewarding for everyone involved.”
To commemorate a half-century of adventure travel, ExperiencePlus! is rolling out a variety of initiatives throughout the year:
On January 1, 2022, ExperiencePlus! launched a sweepstakes to win a Bike Across Italy: Venice to Pisa trip for two in 2022. The winner will be chosen at random from among all qualified entries submitted to the EPTurns50 Trip Giveaway, which will crowdsource a list of favorite bicycle day rides located anywhere in the world.
All entries will be posted to the ExperiencePlus! “Your Favorite Ride Collection” powered by Ride With GPS, the online geolocation platform ExperiencePlus! uses for route mapping and management. Directions and rules for how to enter the sweepstakes, which closes March 11, 2022, are detailed on our website.
Special On Tour Events on Three Classic Tours
Bike Across Italy: Venice to Pisa is the first-ever tour ExperiencePlus! offered and has become one of the company’s most popular Classic tours. Bicycling the Best of Provence and Cycling the Camino de Santiago are two other special trips that have also withstood the test of time and trends. To celebrate the longevity, history, and evolution of these three tours, ExperiencePlus! is planning special on-tour events for all 2022 departures. Customers booked on any Bike Across Italy, Provence, or Spanish Camino departure will also receive a 50-year commemorative bike vest specific to that tour.
50 Best Day Rides
ExperiencePlus! will also showcase the company’s Best 50 Day Rides that tour leaders and staff nominated from across the company’s entire catalog of past and present tours. Route details are being posted on the ExperiencePlus! website via an embedded Ride With GPS maps that show the ride’s location, mileage, tour name, and reason for being selected.
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