As a group travel director, your first experience with a small group may not be by choice. On occasion, you may offer a trip only to find that fewer people sign up than you expected.
Mary Beth Kurasek, director of the Pillar Club for Busey Bank in Champaign, Illinois, was surprised and admittedly disappointed that only 20 people decided to join her for a romantic Valentine’s excursion.
“I had made arrangements for 50 people to see a Frank Sinatra tribute show,” she said. “I was so upset.”
But after Kurasek scheduled a smaller coach, she continued with her plans and was ultimately delighted with the day.
“The participants ended up feeling really special because of the more intimate feel. The experience seemed more personalized, and I also realized how nice it is in my position to work with a small group,” she said.
Tour Operators Go Small
Kurasek learned what tour operators have suspected for the last few years: There are numerous advantages in traveling in small groups.
One of the newest ways to travel with Tauck Tours is with their Tauck Culturious division, a product that is dedicated to “the culture and the curious,” according to Tom Armstrong, Tauck’s corporate communications manager.
“With all of our offerings, we realized we did not have a portfolio that addressed baby boomer travel and the options those folks want,” Armstrong said. “Baby boomers not only want to travel in smaller groups but they want to put on an apron and make the pasta, not just watch someone else do it.”
As a result, Tauck Culturious, which limits its excursions to 20 to 24 people, focuses on small geographic areas in Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States, and offers authentic experiences and more active elements.
“From bike riding to kayaking to making that pasta, Tauck Culturious pushes the enthusiastic traveler out of their comfort zone and offers great rewards,” he said.
Using a minicoach, these small group tours can visit those far-off-the-beaten-path sites in cities and rural locations, perhaps impossible to negotiate in a large motorcoach. From dropping in on plantations rich with sugarcane and coffee beans in Costa Rica to enjoying an American safari in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, being immersed in the surroundings with a few of your newest friends is guaranteed.
“Culturious offers not only a more intimate experience with the culture but an opportunity to really get to know your fellow travelers,” Armstrong said.