As 2015 came to a close, I thought it might be nice to sit down with the wonderful co-founders of Puzzle Israel to hear what they thought of the past year, and also to get a sense of what’s in store for 2016. There is no doubt that 2015 was quite an eventful year, with many exciting new challenges and hurdles, and also new friends and family.
The second I asked Nir to tell me what he was most proud of in 2015, he was bursting at the gills to share all of the accomplishments of Puzzle Israel. The first thing he talked about was the unprecedented growth of Puzzle Israel this past year. From hiring more employees, to taking on many more clients, the growth allowed Puzzle Israel to get a few steps closer to their goal: making people say “yes” to Israel Tours. By growing the company, they were able to bring in new perspectives, new ways to seeing and showing Israel, and new clientele to share those views with. Nir was also stoked about the fact that two large congregations came to Israel with Puzzle Israel this year, one from Boston, and one from Austin. One of these groups was actually the largest group ever to come to Israel through Puzzle Israel, with over 40 participants. Despite the growth and the size of the groups, though, Puzzle made sure that the treatment was the same familial and warm treatment as a family of four might receive. Only the best, most personal service for the best and most wonderful tourists.
In addition to the congregation trips, a few new itineraries were put to the test this year. The first culinary trip set out, and was a huge success. Also, the first philanthropy trip came, which got the ball rolling for many exciting plans in this field for 2016. Speaking of philanthropy, Puzzle Israel helped raise over $25,000 for the Lone Soldier Leadership Seminar, a program which is currently being organized in conjunction with a number of partners. Last but certainly not least, Nir talked about the new Set Departure trips that Puzzle Israel is offering. I could hear in his voice how proud and excited he is about this new option. Set Departure trips will offer a full itinerary for specific dates throughout the year, and will allow participants from around the globe to sign up, show up, and meet Israel through Puzzle Israel’s eyes.
When speaking to Guy about 2015, his enthusiasm and pride were contagious. He spoke about the successful journey that Puzzle Israel went through this year, emphasizing the growth of the company. For Guy and Nir, it was important to keep the down-to-earth and familial feel of Puzzle Israel, even after expanding Team Puzzle by four new members, and widening the clientele greatly. He could not be happier about the outcome!
Guy talked about some of the projects that he is most proud of, as he called them, 2015 climaxes. The first, just as Nir talked about, is the philanthropy group that came. For many of the participants, it was the fifth or even sixth or seventh time in Israel, so Puzzle had the challenge of showing the group a different side of Israel, and surprising them with things they had never seen. The trip could not have been more successful. The team at Puzzle Israel used all of its elements that they have been using since the beginning. They showed the group the real “salt of the earth”, as we say in Hebrew. The group was taken to see some of the charities that they donate to, in order to get a sense of how their donations were impacting real lives. At the end of the trip, the members of the philanthropy group were surprised that they finally saw a new side to Israel, and the team at Puzzle Israel was thrilled to have lived up to their goal of presenting Israel in a new and exciting light. For Guy, this trip represented the success of the whole year, setting an example of the high level of service and dedication that Puzzle Israel gives. Plus, they showed a group of tourists, who had been in Israel several times before, that there is so much to see outside of the standard itinerary, and so much to love that doesn’t always meet the eye.
Both Nir and Guy also spoke about the highlights of their personal lives. Nir and his wife Tzufit had a beautiful baby girl, Gaya, and set off on a whole new kind of adventure as a family. Gaya and Tzufit even joined Nir in the USA for a month while Nir was travelling for Puzzle Israel. Guy also found love in Tal, and I quote, “I met the woman I love while in a coffee shop doing the job that I love.”
Looking forward to 2016, both Nir and Guy are looking forward to the rest of the calendar filling up. Almost the whole summer is jam packed with amazing groups and tours, and there are so many new and exciting itineraries and tours being offered this coming year, such as adventure tours, set departure trips, more yoga trips, and more. Both are hoping that more people will say “yes” to Israel, despite what they might feel about the current situation here. The co-founders are looking forward to continue doing what they love – showing tourists Israel in a new light, from the Golan, to the Galil, to the Negev and the Arava, and giving each and every client the feeling of family here in Israel. Also continuing to expand the partnerships made this year, in Israel and outside of Israel, in order to give as many people as possible the privilege of visiting this wonderful country.
Here’s to an amazing 2015, and looking forward to a quiet and peaceful 2016 in Israel, with full calendars, buzzing cell phones, and solid Israel loving fun!