If there were ever a time for creativity in travel, this is it.
This year has brought challenges that nobody could have anticipated. But challenging moments can be catalysts for innovation. And innovative thinking is going to be crucial for travel groups in 2020 and 2021.
As destinations around the country continue to drop restrictions and open up to visitors, many travel enthusiasts are eager to hit the road again. For groups, though, social distancing poses some unique logistical hurdles. They’re not insurmountable, but navigating these challenges will require some new ideas.
If you’re ready to start your travel program again soon, here are some ideas that will help you plan memorable trips without compromising on health and safety. Your travelers might enjoy some of these new ideas so much that you make them a permanent part of your travel habits.
Under normal circumstances, big cities and popular attractions are at the top of many people’s travel wish lists. But in this season, crowded spots are probably the last places you and your travelers want to go. That makes this a good opportunity to take your group down the backroads, visiting out-of-the-way attractions and smaller destinations. You’re likely to find fascinating experiences and hidden treasures that are new to you and will make for great travel memories.
From a health point of view, the safest place for people to be together is probably outdoors. So why not plan trips that are focused on natural attractions? America’s national and state parks present a wealth of opportunities for exploration, often within a short drive of home. Some of these parks also have accommodation and dining options so your group can spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time riding a motorcoach from one location to the next.
There was a time when operating a successful trip meant having a motorcoach with 50 people. Group sizes have been trending smaller for about a decade, though, and the current climate will likely accelerate this change. Your potential travelers probably don’t want to be packed tightly in a coach with people they don’t know well. So, for the time being, why not design your trips to work well with smaller groups of 10 to 25? You may have to price the trips differently, but smaller groups can provide more intimate experiences, in addition to safer environments.
If your group enjoys traveling together and is eager for a getaway, consider taking them for a long weekend at a resort destination. A resort trip minimizes the time spent on transportation and allows travelers freedom to enjoy the property’s amenities at their leisure. Most resorts are ideally designed for social distancing. And since accommodations, activities and dining are all run by the same management, you can count on a uniform approach to health, safety and cleaning throughout the experience.
With social distancing requirements and occupancy restrictions in place, many restaurants may have a hard time accommodating large groups the way they typically would. And if you’re trying to maintain some distance between your travelers, gathering everyone around a table in a dining room probably isn’t a good plan. Instead, look for alternative dining experiences. Rather than eating in a restaurant, consider packaging a meal into an attraction visit or look for places to eat outdoors. Venues like event barns also make good options, as do food truck parks.