While it’s still too early to tell exactly how the travel industry will be reshaped, we can all agree it will not be business as usual. Any hope of a quick recovery ended at the summer solstice and when this is over, we can’t just reboot the computer and dust off some old itineraries.
With a lot of commotion and fear among consumers, expect there to be a drop off in trip participation. This could be short-lived, but faced with a potential 25% drop in load factors, your once-profitable trips become money losers. So, how do we recover when we know less people will be traveling?
THE PRIVATIZATION OF GROUP TRAVEL
In a round of calls with leading tour companies this month, two common threads emerged – the privatization of group travel and the active promotion of smaller group sizes. G Adventures launched a new program called “book your bubble,” while ratcheting down group sizes. Globus allows anyone to pick a tour from their extensive list and run it specifically for their group while lowering passenger counts for all exotic destinations to an average of 20. In an interview with Fodor’s Travel, Daniel D’souza, president of SOTC Travel, says, “Private trips are an emerging trend that let families and friends enjoy and explore a destination in privacy and safety in the COVID era.”
EMBRACE THE SEA CHANGE
While mass market group travel will surely have its place, by deliberately adding a private element to your trips you’ll reach that gooey center that people really crave, exclusivity. We all want to travel like celebrities, and private group travel makes that attainable for everyday folks.
I’m sure you’ve organized wine tastings, exclusive access to galleries and museums and behind-the-scenes tours. The challenge we face as an industry is to step it up a notch and provide that end-to-end unique experience.
If we hit this mark, we’ll welcome new raving fans who will leave their friends back home envious.
Reposition your group travel program towards private travel groups who are eager to explore together and you’ll come out on the other side of this in better shape.
by Jeff Gayduk