The challenge of group travel is to keep a bus full of individuals happy. 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 has featured a six-part series in 2014 on the many travel personalities you 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 have found 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.
Throughout the year, we have discussed the epicurean, the adventurer, the connector, the pilgrim, the learner and, in this last issue, the vacationer.
With the variety of personalities you have to satisfy, it is your job to have itineraries that appeal to most of your group most of the time. We hope we have offered valuable ideas and support.
The final travel personality we are featuring this year is the vacationer. Chances are this sort of person isn’t the one who has saved a lifetime for an exotic trip.
He simply loves to shop, buy some T-shirts, enjoy a beer, see a good show and not stress about anything too complicated. Paying close attention to the commentary from a Parisian museum docent or flying a thousand feet above the earth on a Costa Rican zip line probably aren’t his thing.
A Vacationer in All of Us?
Much about the vacationer seems to get a bad rap when it comes to sophisticated travel. Our Select Traveler editor, Brian Jewell, who has traveled the world on his travel writing, has, at times, been frustrated.
“I’m just going to put it out there,” he said. “I’m tired of shopping. I didn’t buy anything at the first retail stop, and I’m not going to buy anything at the next one.”
Phyllis Stoller, founder and president of the Women’s Travel Group, touted as one of the most influential women in travel today, doubts that she would ever see a classic vacationer on one of her journeys.
“Our itineraries do not include free days wasted or shopping at the guide’s nephew’s carpet shop,” she said. “I don’t care about a beach hotel and spending time on the beach. Those are not the reasons you have been dreaming about this trip. You can do those things back at home.”
But let’s face it: There is a little of the vacationer in all of us. Chances are that Jewell, a good husband, has been known at the end of the day to buy a souvenir for his wife, put his feet up, enjoy a beer and admire the spectacular scenery.
Stoller nods her head in agreement.
“I’m going to India next week, and I’ve already been online looking where I can find cashmere scarves — for me.”
Admittedly, Elizabeth McCoy, president of Planters Bank in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, rates her worldwide travel itineraries on the shopping availability.
“One of my favorite traveling perks is the shopping,” she said. “I always try to buy jewelry or some sort of original artwork everywhere we go. For instance, I have beautiful lacquer boxes from Russia. But I remember my first time in Russia, I was wondering, Where is the gift shop? They took us to a little book rack.
“The second time there, they had so much more to offer. The former Soviet Bloc countries are getting much better, from accommodations to cuisine to gifts, in attracting travelers,” she said.
A Day or Two in Paradise
But for the hardcore vacationers who have little interest in anything but passive entertainment, travel planners might want to attract them to their program by offering a special-interest minitour.
Bank travel leaders have been doing a great job of this sort of tour for decades, offering short trips to outlet malls, antiquing communities and even holiday shopping treks to New York City, often with a professional musical or play production to top off the excursion.
When offered a few times a year, those trips will typically be smaller and perhaps the most enjoyable and memorable trips for your travelers who are those laid-back vacationers.
For those of us, like Jewell, who admittedly possess few of those vacationer traits, it’s enough to simply be assured we have a souvenir or two for our loved ones and, at the end of the day, put our feet up, enjoy a beer and admire the spectacular scenery.