The challenge of group travel is keeping a bus full of individuals happy. In order to provide great experiences that encourage people to travel with their group again, you must not only determine what your 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. While 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 this issue, we are discussing the epicurean. You can look forward to the following travel personalities in the upcoming issues: the adventurer, the connector, the pilgrim, the learner and the vacationer.
1.) The Epicurean
2.) The Adventurer
3.) The Connector
4.) The Learner
5.) The Pilgrim
6.) The Vacationer
The epicurean is the traveler who enjoys experiences that involve their senses. They love to see, hear, smell, touch — and especially taste — in their travels. They love exploring museums and hearing the beat of music. And they adore mealtime.
To cater to an epicurean personality, you may want to work with a tour operator and/or step-on guide that has specific expertise in that field of interest. Or you may want to take the opportunity to travel off the beaten path and go the extra mile to make your epicureans very, very happy.
Those experts exude passion and offer in-depth experiences that you may not find on a broad-spectrum tour.
Take in the Sights
Jeff Mishur and his wife, Michelle Paulch-Mishur, co-owners of ArtExcursions in Riverside, Illinois, have an intent purpose when they lead individuals and groups whose interests include world-famous art, architecture and gardens throughout the United States. An art historian and university professor respectively, they assure their travelers there will be no whirlwind tours.
“Our goal is to offer quality time,” said Mishur. “We hear from so many that they spent an hour or two in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or other major museums. For the art aficionado, it is difficult to fully appreciate these incredible venues in that short amount of time, but we understand that most tours typically don’t offer much time in any one place.”
Though they are based near Chicago, the professional couple feels confident in every great art city in the country. From a private roof-top tour and reception at the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, to a three-day program exploring the work of Frank Lloyd Wright at Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area, this couple designs, leads and hosts their travels and offers step-on guide services as a component of an itinerary or “the whole enchilada — arranging hotels, meals and more,” according to Mishur.
Take in the Sounds
If you’re taking advantage of an in-depth ArtExcursions’ New Orleans excursion featuring the Degas House, the New Orleans Museum of Art, a French Quarter walking tour and more, your epicureans will also be jazzed at the idea of a day with the folks from New Orleans Music Tours.
“This is the place where the Creole, French, Spanish, and freed and enslaved Africans came together to create the most influential city in popular music,” said Will Norris, co-founder and tour guide.
Music tours include the self-explanatory Jazz on the Rocks, Music Gumbo and Night on the Town. Groups can have behind-the-scenes experiences at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, which houses one of the most comprehensive collections of New Orleans African-American masks used in Mardi Gras celebrations, funerals, and social aid and pleasure clubs.
“Live Mardi Gras Indian music and black social aid club traditions are all part of the visit,” Norris said. “There is music in every venue and street corner we visit, including Congo Square, perhaps the single most popular place for African and Caribbean music. We’ve had a re-created jazz funeral from the 1800s held in a cemetery and group members invited to learn the rhythms while draped in African-print shawls. It is so exciting.”
Take in the Tastes
If you happen to be on Interstate 74 in Illinois on your way to an ArtExcursion tour of the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, your epicureans will never settle for stopping at a ho-hum restaurant along the way. A partnership of six convention and visitors bureaus adjacent to this major artery have developed a new promotional print and online brochure called “Triple D Galore Along I-74; Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins Across Illinois.” Those participating CVBs include Bloomington Normal, Champaign County, Danville Area, Galesburg, Peoria and the Quad Cities.
“You’ll have the chance to go where the locals go,” said Jessica Waytenick, media contact for the Quad Cities CVB and enthusiastic foodie. “These are places that are not necessarily promoted and that you wouldn’t find without the guide.”
The brochures provide phone numbers, websites, photos and descriptions of nearly 40 restaurants that guarantee a scrumptious way to travel Illinois. They can be downloaded or viewed online at each of the participating CVBs’ websites, including the Quad Cities.