When you’re driving down the highway and see a big motorcoach cruising along, do you ever wonder who’s in there? The possibilities of who participates in group tours are many.
First, let’s start with answering the question “What exactly are group tours?” A group tour consists of a group of people who want to have a travel experience with others with a common interest. Group travel is an excellent option as the traveler just has to sign up and everything else is taken care of. No worries of finding accommodations, driving, parking, where to eat, or what to do. People who participate in group tours also have the benefit of tour guides and group leaders. There is always someone on the trip who is responsible for making sure everyone is accounted for, takes care of any issues that may arise and knows about the location(s).
While it is true that group travel experienced a significant decline due to the pandemic, today we are seeing the group tour market starting to return as a tried-and-true travel experience. The COVID-19 pandemic had some positive effects on this travel segment. There are more safety and cleanliness protocols that are being followed by tour companies, and hygiene and sanitation features that are being implemented on tour buses. This includes air filtration systems, hand sanitizer stations, deep cleaning and full sanitization policies before each tour commences. The American Bus Association has done a great job of providing current and relevant information as far as CDC requirements for tour busses.
These travel plans could consist of day trips, multi-day trips, traveling to exotic destinations, historic and cultural sites, concerts, sporting events, etc. Tour packages range from hundreds of travelers to smaller groups as few as 10 people. What does it take to attract a group tour to your destination? It depends on who is on the tour! Here are 4 common types of group tours and what they’re looking for.
Senior Group Tours
Many retirees enjoy this type of vacation. It’s ideal for people who love to travel but don’t want to travel alone. They want to meet new people with common interests and have free time during the week. As many retirees are on a fixed income, travel during off-peak time is more economical.
What Destinations Need: Tour Operators for senior tours make sure that everywhere they go can accommodate this demographic. This could include handicapped accessibility, minimal walking and places geared toward this age group. Senior tours often visit historic and cultural destinations and unique places. Like Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn, NY.
What’s on the Itinerary: Typically, the itinerary will include a slower pace so visitors can enjoy the experiences without being rushed to the next thing. They also have local guides join them on the bus to give them background, interesting stories and information about the places they’re visiting.
Adventure Group Tours
This type of travel is of special interest to people who like to get their adrenaline flowing! The adventure group tour segment is one area that has increased significantly during the pandemic. People want to be outdoors and have unique experiences. Also, these groups are often smaller in nature so there is not the concern of being with a lot of people.
While there could be varied ages, typically these groups include people between 30 – 50. The benefit of group tours for these thrill seekers is that they can go to places they may not know of or be able to go on their own. For those who enjoy being taken out of their comfort zone, what better way than putting your fate in someone else’s hands and allowing them to take you to unfamiliar destinations? This type of travel experience fosters a camaraderie unlike any other. Having an exhilarating experience with others is a bond shared only by those who are living it.
What Destinations Need: These tours could include mountain climbing, white water rafting, or multiple adventure experiences. Like Adventure Calls Outfitters in Letchworth State Park.
What’s on the Itinerary: They will usually include enjoying local cuisine and amenities to ensure all get free time and plenty of rest.
Sports Group Tours
Sports fans are some of the most passionate and expressive travelers around. These types of tours are great for those who love watching sporting events but don’t want the hassle. Tour companies who offer this type of travel experience will typically have more buying options than a single person would because they are guaranteeing purchase of many tickets. This allows them to have access to highly sought-after seating that may not be available to the general public. These tours may include going to a big game like the Super Bowl or World Series or attending different games over several days. Avid sports fans who want to savor the game without the details will enjoy this type of travel from start to finish.
What Destinations Need: Sports stadiums and local sports teams and other sporting attractions. Like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
What’s on the Itinerary: Besides attending games, sports fans like sport-themed dining and breweries.
Student Group Tours
Performance, sports, educational and recreational are the 4 main types of student tours.
- Performance – This tour is for school performance groups. It typically includes chorus, bands and orchestra students. It combines opportunities for the students to travel to destinations outside of their hometowns and perform at large public venues and also provides some recreational and free time.
- Sports – This tour is for sports teams. It may be through a school or could be an organized group outside of a school. These groups travel to various tournaments around the country. Although the main part of the travel is to play in the tournament, there will also be a component of free time to explore the destination where the tournament is being held.
- Educational – These tours are based around an experience specifically tied to a curriculum. If a group is learning about American History, they may take a multi-day trip traveling to different historical sites. There is always some time for fun and play scheduled as well.
- Recreational – Typically done as a last hurrah, many high school senior classes will embark on these types of tours. They go to a fun destination such as New York City, Disney World, or a beach-side resort. These are typically 3 – 4 day adventures and the planned activities are recreational in nature.
What Destinations Need: Large public spaces where groups can perform, arenas or sporting complexes. Shopping and entertainment centers are perfect. Like Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY.
What’s on the Itinerary: Historical sites, educational attractions that coordinate with the curriculum, and other youth-friendly attractions and restaurants.