Episode 209:

Twenty years ago, Pascale Bernasse fulfilled a lifelong dream and began a career in the travel industry. Today, that dream remains a reality for her as the co-owner and President of French Wine Explorers.

Bernasse started working in the travel industry in 2000 after leaving a corporate career that had left her uninspired. Taking a leap of faith, she started her career at two of the first internet-based cruise retailers, then moved on to gain experience with a small niche tour operator and a brick and mortar travel agency. In 2007 Bernasse and her husband, Pierre, acquired French Wine Explorers, a boutique tour operator specializing in luxury wine vacations in France and Italy.

For the past nine years, Bernasse has been featured as a Condé Nast “Top Travel Specialist” for her expertise. Bernasse earned this reputation by providing exceptional immersive tours with memorable experiences. Her success is due to her insider’s knowledge and relationships with the top estates and guides in France. Daughter of a French native, Bernasse spent summers in France and received part of her college education and professional experience there. All this time spent in France has allowed her to have a deep perspective that she shares with clients.

Says Bernasse, “I am incredibly proud of my experiences in the travel business these last 20 years. This has been a dream of mine since I was a young child spending my summers in France. Over the years, I have forged relationships with outstanding clients and service providers. These partnerships have allowed me to grow in ways that I never imagined. We use a high-touch approach with our clients; and this fuels our brand as Pierre and I surround ourselves with the best in the business. I hope the next 20 years will challenge, reward, and inspire me as much as the past 20 have been!”

Along with recognition from Condé Nast, French Wine Explorers has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast, Travel and Leisure, Rachel Ray Magazine, Travel Weekly, and Bon Appétit magazines.

Destination on the Left is joined by Pascale Bernasse, the president of French Wine Explorers. In our conversation, Pascale and I talk about the importance of finding your tribe and maintaining focus so you can navigate the challenges of this pandemic. She explains how her company found its North Star and managed to stay healthy through all of the hurdles in 2020. And she also discusses her commitment to serving the community and putting her customers first. Our podcast is full of invaluable insights about French Wine Explorers’ ability to persevere in these trying times, and I am sure it will energize you as it did me.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Pascale found her way into the travel and tourism industry 20 years ago
  • Pascale’s role as co-owner and president of French Wine Explorers
  • The importance of finding your tribe amidst a global crisis
  • How to maintain focus so you can navigate the challenges of the pandemic more effectively
  • What French Wine Explorers did to stay healthy through all of the hurdles of 2020
  • How Pascale’s commitment to service and putting her customers first paid off during the pandemic

French Wine Explorers

Destination on the Left is joined by Pascale Bernasse, the president of French Wine Explorers. In our conversation, Pascale and I talk about the importance of finding your tribe and maintaining focus so you can navigate the challenges of this pandemic. She explains how her company found its North Star and managed to stay healthy through all of the hurdles in 2020. And she also discusses her commitment to serving the community and putting her customers first. Our podcast is full of invaluable insights about French Wine Explorers’ ability to persevere in these trying times, and I am sure it will energize you as it did me.

Serving, Not Selling

French Wine Explorers offers wine tours in France, Italy, and Spain to help wine lovers become true connoisseurs. Her customers are not comfortable sitting on a beach for a week—they are looking to come back with more knowledge than they started with by participating in enriching experiences abroad. On the surface, French Wine Explorers is a tour company, but Pascale figured out how to take it so much further than that. By focusing on relationship development and the individual needs of each client, each experience has a personal touch that her competitors can’t offer. French Wine Explorers doesn’t sell, it serves. And the new circumstances of the pandemic have only made that more significant.

Responding to the Global Pandemic

It goes without saying that the events of 2020 have been challenging for everyone, but the travel and tourism industry has been hit especially hard. It has forced us to adapt and serve our clients in new ways. In the first half of the year, Pascale and her team focused solely on protecting the investments of clients who had booked tours in 2020. The second half of the year has been dedicated to finding ways to run the business more efficiently based on Pascale’s vision for the future. France experienced a number of terror attacks in 2016 which cut French Wine Explorers’ business in half. Moving forward, Pascale and her team focused on building financial insulation for anything else that might happen in the future. That insulation has been key in their ability to pivot and push forward in these difficult times.

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