Titans of Tourism
In an industry replete with savvy entrepreneurs, creative operators and skilled marketers, there are a few who not only keep their finger on the pulse of the travel business but also are a driving force behind the heartbeat of their niche. These Titans of Tourism help to guide and shape our industry in numerous ways, from supervising associations and building communities, to developing innovative tools and creative applications for existing practices.
Leisure Group Travel has sought out five such Titans and asked them to share with us insight on the changes and trends within their organizations and how it affects our industry at large.
ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso shared his insight on trends in the industry:
People have been traveling by coach since the dawn of the wheel. That is a long time. Luckily the roads and rides have improved over the last few centuries.
In the past few years, we have seen motorcoach operators pay extra attention to onboard amenities. Many motorcoaches now include soft leather seats, wide aisles and seat space, free Wi-Fi and beverages available. Perhaps best of all, your bag travels free—no need to worry about rising airline baggage costs and trying to fit everything into a small carry-on.
We now see a number of coach sizes available for tours. It might be a private tour with 15-20 of your closest friends heading to a winery, going on a fall foliage or beach tour or booked for any other exclusive getaway. Or it can be a 50-passenger tour for a school group or retirement community. The possibilities are endless for group travel by motorcoach.
The biggest trend we are seeing—it started a few years and has really taken off— is millennials traveling by motorcoach. They love the social and environmentally friendly aspect of motorcoach travel, plus it is a more economical and convenient way to see the country than other modes of transportation.
We are also seeing that some groups becoming smaller and more intimate. While you still see a lot of students and adults travel riding the larger buses for field trips, for personal travel people often travel in smaller groups where they get to either pick who they are traveling with or get to know their travel companions through hiking excursions, wine tastings, dining and other adventures that cater toward experiences. We are seeing an uptick in food and drink tours. You will see cities now touting themselves as a foodie town or craft liquor or beer town. It is more about cooking classes and local market visits. People want to immerse themselves in the town or city they visit. While they are always interested in seeing the iconic sights, they want to feel and experience local flavor.
People are also more interested in wellness trips as they want to be more active. You will see more hiking and biking excursions in the mountains, and as people get more “outdoorsy,” there is a big focus on eco-tourism and tourism that is philanthropic and gives back. More people want to experience different environments and see endangered places before it is too late. They also want to be assured that their means of travel is the most environmentally friendly way, and by traveling by motorcoach they can feel good about being part of taking up to 50 cars off the road.
In short, it is all about personalization. People want to feel that their own personal needs are being catered to, even when they are part of a 50-person group. We are also seeing an uptick in solo travel. People may want to travel from place to place with a group but follow their own agenda once at a destination.
Travel is about experiences and memories made. People want to create a long-lasting memory. They want to tick items off that bucket list. They want to participate in the adventure, not just be shown something. It is about experiencing a unique cultural event or learning a new skill or visiting remote or challenging locations. And it has to look great on Instagram!