Galaxy Tours & Travel

One thing Catherine Swan is certain about is that when this is over, people are going to go bonkers over travel.

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Started in 2003, Midwest-based Galaxy Tours runs a mixture of domestic and international tours. Owner Catherine Swan has used this time to slow down personally. “As all tour operators know, you are just grinding it out. I have enjoyed a little bit of slow time here, but I am done with that now,” said Catherine.

When asked about the mood of her travelers, Swan responds, “It’s really interesting. If you split our clientele, there’s at least a quarter of the folks who have hunkered down and they are not venturing out. At the same time, I have a significant amount of folks who are getting out and about.”

It was the latter group that prompted Galaxy to run its first trip in July. “I decided to bring back this short, three-day Wisconsin/Michigan tour for July. Normally we have from one to three coaches on this tour, but I limited it to 20 people. Because it was our first tour, I was running it and wanted to make sure all the protocols were followed to a tee.”

As the group was boarding they were given a Galaxy Tours healthy goody bag. “I tried to make it as upbeat an experience as I could. The masks that I chose were theme-based. I took their temperature as they were ready to board. I encouraged them, because we had a 56-seat coach, to spread out,” Swan said. Hand sanitizer was available in the front and back of the coach, and the bus company sanitized each evening.

“Starting up our travel program was really not going to be a money maker, but the confidence boost that many people want,” Swan continued. “In their packet they not only received what our protocols were going to be but the coach company’s and hotel protocols. People needed to see that everybody is taking this very seriously.” Everyone was impressed with the steps each location was enforcing.

However, Galaxy has had to cancel some fall departures, including a Colorado trip for later in the year because certain attractions and restaurants were not available to serve their group, plus the airline was booking to full capacity which discouraged her travelers. “I still have a tour scheduled this year for Opryland Christmas. Fingers crossed I’m hoping things pan out,” Swan said.

As for 2021 plans, Swan reports that she is going full steam ahead. “I think it’s important that we get the options out there. Folks trust me, they know I’m going to make a decision to run a trip or cancel it based on their health, security and they know they are getting every cent back if I cancel the trip. It is important that people make plans for the future.” The bulk of Galaxy’s 2020 tours are being pushed to 2021.

“I want to do a shout-out to all the vendors and venues out there,” Swan concluded. “They are being so remarkably great in holding pricing.”

Listen to more interviews with travel industry entrepreneurs with the Traveling Tribes podcast, or listen directly on Spotify.