There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “May You Live in Interesting Times.” As we approach 2011 and forecast our industry’s outlook, the phrase is telling. There’s never been a more interesting time to be in the motorcoach, tourism and group travel business.

Challenges are out there, and reviving leisure group travel is a formidable one. But that also means these interesting times are full of opportunities. Consider these signs of the times as we get ready for the new year and ABA Marketplace 2011 in Philadelphia from Jan. 8-12.

The economy remains uncertain. Yet the mode shift toward bus travel continues, as modern, luxurious motorcoaches are increasingly being seen as an antidote to travel annoyances the public now expects from planes, trains and automobile congestion. Taking the plane, train or the car is about “are we there yet?”

But getting there should be part of the fun, especially with the customization choices so many bus and group tour operators now offer within the template of the group travel experience.