Every year, affinity travel planners like you face a tough decision: Do you plan return trips to places your customers know and love, or take a chance on a trip to an unproven destination?
If you try a new destination and it doesn’t sell well, you may have to cancel the trip. However, if you continue to offer trips to the same destinations, eventually your travelers will grow tired of going to those places, and your numbers will start to drop.
Fortunately, there is a third way: Plan brand-new experiences in favorite destinations. With some fresh ideas and creative thinking, you can build trips that capitalize on a popular place’s appeal while also giving your loyal travelers new ways to enjoy themselves there.
Here are five ideas to help you to take creative approaches to your group’s most beloved destinations.
Try New City Tours
The city sightseeing tour has been a staple of packaged travel for decades. And though these overview tours can make good introductions for people visiting a city for the first time, they can be pretty boring and redundant to travelers who have been there before. Fortunately, many popular destinations now have all kinds of tour options that allow visitors to explore them in innovative ways. Culinary tours and ghost tours are always popular. Groups can also enjoy getting a ground-level view on Segway, bicycle or running tours. Sculpture walks, gallery hops and public art tours also make for inspiring ways to explore a classic destination.
Change the Timing
Many popular destinations have well-defined tourist seasons, receiving most of their visitors inside a particular time frame determined by weather or other factors. But high season isn’t the only time to go. You can significantly change the experience your group has in a popular destination by changing the timing of your trip. Mountainous ski areas have lots of fun activities in summer, for example, and Yellowstone is breathtaking in winter. And many popular destinations have special programming during the holiday season, so visiting between Thanksgiving and Christmas can help create new group experiences.
Make It Multigenerational
Traveling with people of different ages makes any trip more interesting. If you have a destination that you know is popular with your core travelers, consider packaging it as a multigenerational trip. By opening up opportunities to bring children or grandchildren, you’ll give your customers a reason to return to places they’ve been before. With several generations joining your group, you’ll likely want to plan some activities that you may not have visited previously. And even the must-do attractions will feel different because bringing younger people along changes the energy of the entire trip.
Enlist Local Experts
If you want to plan new ways to enjoy perennially popular destinations, one of the best strategies is to reach out to local experts to help you come up with new ideas. Virtually every city in the United States has a convention and visitors bureau or similar organization staffed by tourism professionals who would love to give you creative ways to explore their hometowns. When you’re planning a trip, work with the group tour experts at the CVB to find out what your group can do this time that its never done before.
Offer Abundant Options
In the most popular tour destinations, there’s more to do than can realistically fit into any single group itinerary. So to broaden the appeal of a trip, organize it in such a way that travelers choose among plenty of options when they arrive. With a bit of planning, you can arrange for smaller subsets of your group to go off on different adventures in the same city. Some go to the golf course, for example, while others go to the spa; some visit an art museum while others sample spirits at a distillery.