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Growing Your Group: Men

It was against this backdrop that the group travel traditions we know today were formed. In trying to appeal to their core demographic, tour operators packaged trips that catered to women’s taste. Itineraries featured many historic homes, gardens and tearooms. There were wine tastings, Broadway shows and shopping — lots and lots of shopping.

Today, the demographics of group tourism have changed, but many of the traditions haven’t. Though most group travelers are now working age and married, many tours still play heavily to the tastes and preferences of retired women.

Is it any wonder that men aren’t taking group trips?

Appealing to Men

Bob Cline, president of U.S. Tours, has found some success in attracting men to themed tour events that focus on veterans appreciation and military culture.

“We have a significant number of men who come to our veterans events: the USO shows and the Heroes and Legends package in Clarksville, Tennessee,” Cline said. “The first Welcome Home Vietnam event that we did brought in more than 500 veterans on motorcycles and [in] pickup trucks and in campers. They didn’t travel on buses. But 500 people is a heck of a group.”

Cline said about half of the men who attend his events bring their wives, and many bring their children and grandchildren. He also has found success in bringing men on his Duck Commander tour in Monroe-West Monroe, Louisiana, home of the famous outdoor gear company and the setting of the popular television show “Duck Dynasty.”

“I think the key is that there are ways to attract men,” Cline said. “Experiential events are great for men, and you need to stay away from shopping. They may not come on a bus, but if you can attract a lot of people, that doesn’t matter.”

Wilburn, the alumni travel planner, agrees. “To get men to travel, you’re going to have to offer things that men are interested in,” he said.

Although the France trip yielded few male passengers, Wilburn said he has seen more men come along on trips that allow them to visit places such as famous battlefields around the world. He is also interested in the potential posed by themed trips that revolve around train travel or sports.

One possibility Wilburn is considering is a golf trip to Scotland, which some friends have requested he put together.

“They are still working and can only take off for a week — five workdays,” he said. “But they’re really golf nuts. They want to play one really big-name golf course in Scotland and then play on some other courses while they’re there. They want to play at least one round of golf each day, and they’re willing to lay out cash to do it. They would rather spend the money on playing golf than on doing other things.”

If the Scotland trip comes together, Wilburn said he might try to include a visit to a local battlefield. And though some of the wives have inquired about what they could do on the trip while the men play golf, he won’t be surprised if many of the men come on the trip alone.