//‘New revenue stream in group travel’

‘New revenue stream in group travel’

Brian Young, G Adventures, says agents should embrace group travel ahead of ABTA event.

“Group travel is a fantastic new revenue opportunity for agents,” Brian Young, managing director for EMEA at G Adventures, has said ahead of ABTA’s second annual Group Travel and Escorted Tours Conference.

The event, which takes place on September 26, focuses on how to market, sell and deliver holidays and tours of all sizes. This year the conference brings together tour operators, travel agents, GTOs and the wider travel industry.

There are huge opportunities to sell group travel, and delegates will learn about product trends and the growing demand for experiential and adventure travel, themed and cultural tours, immersive experiences and more.

Young said: “Group travel and adventure group travel in particular is a high touchpoint product, which requires the knowledge and expertise of agents to be able to connect travellers to the right tours and experiences.”

He added: “The solo travel market is booming, and group travel presents a fantastic opportunity for independent travellers to visit destinations and meet new people while having the added bonus of a group.

ABTA event

Group Travel and Escorted Tours Conference
Date: September 26, 2018
Venue: Japan House London
Location: 101-111 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA
Click here to register

The event will decode the latest legislation that affects the group travel and touring market, including the Package Travel Regulations, GDPR, accessibility, coach access, driving hours, tour guiding regulation and more.

Speakers at the event include Young; Wendy Wu, founder, Wendy Wu Tours; Giles Hawke, chief executive, Cosmos; Wendy Hartley-Scarff, CEO of the Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO); Miles Morgan, managing director, Miles Morgan Travel; Andy Squirrell, managing director, Titan Travel; and speakers from Exodus.

ABTA Magazine is the official media partner of the Group Travel and Escorted Tours Conference. A limited number of complimentary places are available for agents. Email events@abta.co.uk for details

Q&A

Brian Young, G Adventures

What advice do you have for agents that have never sold group travel before?
Agents who aren’t selling group travel are missing out on a huge opportunity as the sector is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. Group travel offers travellers of all ages, backgrounds and interests the opportunity to visit amazing destinations, learn about new cultures and communities, while meeting other travellers, making new friends and having the security of a group along the way. The added bonus of an experienced local guide, or Chief Experience Officer as well call them here at G Adventures, is always a great selling point as it allows travellers to get under the skin of a destination.

When looking to sell group travel, first and foremost, agents need to look at their customer base and identify what type of holidays their travellers are booking. Destination, travel style and age demographic all help to inform which company agents should be working with to be able to connect their traveller with the right experience for them.

For example, if a traveller in their 50s, looking for an upgraded accommodation option and loves wildlife, they would be a great match for our National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures collection. On the other hand, if the traveller is younger and has more time, but wants to see as much of a destination as possible, we may direct them towards our 18-to-thirtysomethings style.

There’s also huge potential for upselling through additional bolt on tours. For example, if a traveller is taking a cruise that stops in Lima, then adding on a trip to Machu Picchu is often very attractive to travellers.

Training also plays a fundamental role in selling these types of experiences. Working with companies that have sales staff available to train and develop agents, so they are confident in the product will help set them up for success.

What is the biggest misconception that you have to overcome with travel agents?
There is still a misconception around group touring that travellers will be restricted by long, inflexible itineraries. In our case it’s quite the contrary – we want our travellers to be explorers still and so make sure there is plenty of free time for them to go off and discover a destination in their own way. That might be going for a hike or sitting reading a book in a local cafe.

Another concern that is often raised is about travelling with a group of strangers. Travellers are sometimes concerned about travelling with people the same age or nationality. In our experience, experiencing amazing destinations and activities with travellers of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities offers a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures and how they experience travel as well as making new friends.

Within the adventure sector, we still definitely see misconceptions around what “adventure” actually means. Many travellers, and agents, view this as the more extreme end of travel; tough hikes, adrenaline-packed activities and active experiences. In reality, adventure means something different to everyone; it may be hiking to Everest Basecamp or kayaking in Vietnam or it may be taking a street tour in Delhi, led by a former street child, we aim to offer an adventure for everyone.

The final misconception we often see with agents is around the use of local transportation. G Adventure, where possible will always use a local option as part of our commitment to leaving as much money in the local economy as possible. Taking local transportation is an experience in itself – it’s not just a means to get to a destination, but an opportunity to mix with locals and see life in that destination through their eyes.

What component make for a good group travel experience?
In our experience, small group sizes offer a much more immersive and personalised experience. We see average group sizes of 12-16, which allows us to offer activities in locations where larger groups can’t always access. A knowledgeable guide is, without a doubt, one of the biggest components for making a group trip a success. Our Chief Experience Officers are with travellers the whole way through the trip and are on hand the whole time to offer local insights, and to ensure they have the best experience possible – it’s in their job title!

Like I mentioned before, a good mix of different nationalities and backgrounds makes the travel experience more enriching as travellers have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, learning about their culture and customs in addition to that of the destination they are visiting.

Increasingly, we are seeing more and more of our travellers and agents engaging with the concept of social enterprise. Purpose-driven travel has been built into the DNA of the G Adventures brand since the beginning and we offer our travellers the opportunity to change people’s lives, leave as much money in the local economy and build meaningful connections with local communities, simply by going away and having a great group travel adventure.

Can you tell me why travel agents should be selling group travel?
Group travel is a fantastic new revenue opportunity for agents. Group travel and adventure group travel in particular, is a high touch-point product, which requires the knowledge and expertise of agents to be able to connect travellers to the right tours and experiences.

The solo travel market is booming, and group travel presents a fantastic opportunity for independent travellers to visit destinations and meet new people while having the added bonus of a group. Travellers as a whole are increasingly seeking diverse and transformative travel experiences and group travel offers the perfect opportunity for agents to be able to meet this demand.