Retail powerhouse Liberty Travel is aiming to introduce a new mode of vacation to the American mass market, with its massive new promotion of escorted tours. Called "Tour Power" and featuring exclusive offers from escorted tour heavyweights like Globus and Trafalgar, the promotion is poised to be the largest -- and in many ways, the first -- of its kind for the U.S. leisure travel market, Liberty reports.
"Escorted tours have been around for quite some time, and are very popular with a niche market of travelers. But to date no major travel agency has offered a promotion of this size dedicated entirely to escorted travel, at least not in the U.S.," said Billy McDonough, president of Liberty Travel.
Escorted tours are a style of tourism where groups of travelers visit multiple destinations in a single trip while accompanied by a tour director. The tour director acts as a guide, and also manages transportation, accommodations, meals and other aspects of the itinerary, most of which are typically included in the price of the tour.
Escorted tours are already popular in Australia's travel market, where Liberty Travel's parent company, Flight Centre Limited, is based. Flight Centre itself began as an escorted tour company, Top Deck Tours, founded in 1973. Tour Power takes its name from a similar promotion Flight Centre ran in the late 1990s.
"In the U.S., Tour Power is one of those rare opportunities to introduce a large number of consumers to something new," McDonough added.
Tour Power will not be the first time Liberty Travel has brought something new to America's leisure travel market. Founded in 1951, Liberty Travel is credited with pioneering the "vacation package" -- flight, accommodation, and other aspects of a trip under a single price tag. The concept has since become the industry standard for selling vacations.
According to Liberty Travel's President of Cruise and Tour, Makis Xenatos, there is huge potential for escorted tours in the U.S. market.
"From the traveler's perspective, the benefits of escorted tours are innumerable," Xenatos said. "All the logistics of your trip -- how to get to the sights you want to visit, where to stay -- all that is taken care."
"Travel between destinations is comfortable. You're with a guide who knows the destination inside and out, who can take you where you want to go and also places that only the locals know, places you would not normally find on your own."
"On a tour, you can truly focus your energy and attention on the reason you're traveling -- the chance to relax and experience a destination to the absolute fullest."
"Tours are also extremely affordable. All transportation and typically most meals are included. After booking, all you will really need is a little spending money -- or a lot, depending on how much you like to shop."
"With a tour, you can have the trip of a lifetime without spending your life savings. They afford almost anyone the chance to travel and experience something incredibly unique."