Our publishing company is a member of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and attends its annual conference each December. We have numerous tour operator members of USTOA coming to Cheyenne, Wyoming, for the Select Traveler Conference. The organization currently represents more than 50 tour companies that collectively own more than 150 travel brands across the globe.
For its annual meeting each December, USTOA publishes an insightful snapshot of the year ahead for worldwide group travel based on a survey of its members. For instance, these members identified Egypt, Croatia and Colombia as their top emerging “off the beaten path” destinations this year. They also confirmed three current trends for group travel that our readers reference often in this magazine: travelers’ desire for local immersion; their desire for smaller, more intimate groups; and their interest in uncharted destinations.
However, it was something else in this year’s document that caught my eye: Almost half these international tour operators (44%) reported that multigenerational family travel was their top growing passenger category for 2019. We devote a lot of time and ink here to the fact that group travel constantly regenerates itself as a travel segment. It’s an industry that is often unfairly described as staid or even archaic.
Many youthful travelers, including millennials and younger generations, are returning to travel packages and travel advisers that assist them with planning their trips. For these USTOA members to cite family groups consisting of grandparents, parents and travel-aged children as a growing part of their businesses is great to see. I believe traveling with friends and family will remain one of the best reasons to go with a group.