Talking With the Pros: New Kinds of Travelers

Last year, in the worst of the recession, the travel industry learned a new term: Staycations. Local, inexpensive vacations became popular as people felt the need to get away…but not too far, and not for too much money. On the heels of learning about last-minute booking trends and what customers are looking for, we asked some tour operators what new kinds of travelers they need to know about these days.

“I think travel agents will find a more adventurous traveler in the sense that they are amenable to visiting small country towns and villages to see and mingle with the people that live there,” says Melissa McKee of Collette Vacations. “They are no longer satisfied with just a city tour. And family travel - the idea of travelers on tour with their children and grandchildren - will be something we see more and more of. The convenience and value can't be beat.”

John Lovell of agrees. “Family travel (intergenerational) is where the business is right now,” he says. “We are seeing families with multiple generations traveling together more and more. This is driving the need for smaller group departures to create that exclusive aspect to the tour.”

Paul Wiseman, president of Trafalgar, also points to family travel as a booming trend, but says that another growing demographic are women traveling independently, either with friends or as solo travelers. Marc Kazlauskas of Insight Vacations is even more specific: “We have seen a huge increase in single travelers in 2010 – specifically single women over 50.”

Jennifer Halboth, marketing director for the Globus family of brands, has some interesting statistics for new travel trends: “You may be surprised to know there is a healthy percent of travelers new to touring,” she says, adding that a full 30 percent of Globus’ customers fit this profile in 2009. “And, perhaps even more interesting, they are younger. On average, a traveler that is new to the style of touring is eight years younger than the traditional tour traveler. They are choosing a tour for its functionality (to simplify their vacation) and enrichment value (a tour does not disappoint).” Even better, she adds, they're enjoying their experience: “Ninety-two percent of those surveyed said they would recommend the style to a friend or family member.”

With a wider range of travel options than ever before, it’s understandable that there would be a greater range travelers and tastes. Some might want escorted vacations, says Nico Zenner, president of Brendan Vacations, but some might prefer a custom or personalized vacation, such as a chauffeur-driven itinerary.  Some travelers are interested in visiting the traditional sights and attractions—but some, he says, want “vacations that include something that hasn’t been done before; something that is new and something that is exclusive.”


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