The challenge of group travel is keeping a busful of individuals happy. In order to provide great experiences that encourage people to travel with your group again, travel leaders must not only determine what their travelers like but also deliver those wish lists with gusto.
To assist, Select Traveler is featuring a six-part series in 2014 on the many travel personalities you’ll find on the motorcoach along with suggestions that just might be more than memorable to those diverse personalities. Although it is impossible to offer an excursion that will make everyone happy, here you will find opportunities to create special-interest tours and even ideas for free time — those times when participants have choices to enjoy what pushes their personal buttons.
In the last issue, we discussed the epicurean. In this issue, we are discussing the adventurer. You can look forward to those travel personalities in the upcoming issues: the connector, the pilgrim, the learner and the vacationer.
In many ways, the adventure traveler is that potential group member that travel leaders have attempted to lure for the past decade.
This is the traveler who demands some free time on a group tour. No matter how well priced and fun-filled it may be, if every minute of the day is planned, the adventurer is not interested. Perhaps, he simply wants some time to put his feet up.
Or she — she may want to have the time to explore the distinctive pottery shops in that secluded corner of the city. Whatever their reasons, adventurers want spare time away from their fellow travelers.
Adventurers are also looking for thrills they can’t get at home and the challenge of outdoor activities. Offer some heart-pumping river rafting or the excitement of spotting a rare bird or even a feast of grilled salmon under the stars, and the adventurers in your group will likely swoon.
Shoes Are the Stars
Eager to attract adventurers of all ages and skill levels, Joanie Coates, manager of Experiences, the aptly named group at First American Bank in Des Moines, Iowa, uses sneakers as icons in her trip materials.
“Because of our range of ages, we have a diverse range of physical capabilities,” said Coates. “Defining physical capability of those tours right up front with a rating system of one to five sneakers, included on our marketing brochures and announcements on our website, makes it easy for group members to decide if they might have interest. One sneaker means there is little needed for physical strength.”
Coates has had many adventurer lovers from Experiences join her on her climb through the Ollantaytambo ruins in Peru, zip lining in Costa Rica and even an exotic animal encounter in Egypt.
“A 90-year-old group member rode a camel in Egypt,” she said. “Adventurers can be of any age.”
A One-Sneaker Adventure
In the area that has been called a wetland of international importance, the Horicon Marsh in Horicon, Wisconsin, is where turtles, blue herons and the majestic American egret seem to appear on cue.
“What we see changes dramatically on a seasonal basis, but every season offers dramatic sights,” said Mark Zuelsdorf, the captain of our pontoon boat and a wildlife expert who can spot a red-bellied woodpecker or a rose-breasted grosbeak a half-mile away. Co-owner of Horicon Marsh Boat Tours, Zuelsdorf has been giving tours for 45 years.
The company offers three tours from May through October: a sight-seeing tour, a sunset cruise and a birding adventure.
“These pontoon tours are designed for the photographer, birder, nature lover and those who just like to loaf, look and listen. And don’t worry about being a bird expert — leave that up to me,” Zuelsdorf said.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has deemed this attraction part of their Travel Green Program.
“This means we are environmentally conscious,” Zuelsdorf said. “Everything from our lightbulbs to the paint on the boats has to meet certain standards.”