Travelers looking for a remedy for the problems of modern life are increasingly seeking the peace of the outdoors. The summer of 2020 saw significant increases in the amount of outdoor recreation, according to sources like Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. These trends are expected to continue as travelers flock outdoors in 2021.
Though some group leaders shy away from planning outdoor trips because they believe that their groups are not active enough, outdoor travel can work for all ages and physical abilities. Not all outdoor trips involve long hikes up mountains or interminable scenic drives on a bus.
To successfully sell outdoor group travel, think about which type of nature-themed trip will prove the most irresistible to your loyalty travel program.
Rethinking Outdoor Travel
To incorporate more outdoor activities into your tours, first determine the types of tours that would work best. Send out a survey asking what types of outdoor tours your customers might be interested in. Include questions about activity level, accommodation preferences, desire to see wildlife and interest in various outdoor activities like kayaking or whitewater rafting.
After you have a starting place, begin looking at more specific destinations. Not all parks are created equal, so you should first determine if a park is right for your group. First, gauge how close a park is to other attractions. At some parks, like the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, it’s easy to weave in supplemental activities. Others, like the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, require driving to more remote areas of the country.
Trails are another consideration. Instead of focusing on the total number of trails, research how many accessible, easier trails there are compared with the more arduous trails. A mixture of both types can appeal to groups with differing levels of mobility. If your group is hiking together, choose the easier treks.
You don’t want to offer only hiking for a group trip, so find out what other group activities would work. For example, at the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, groups can explore the Grand Canyon Village, take a trip on the Grand Canyon Railway, rent bicycles, raft the rapids or ride mules. These experiences will make the group tour more tempting to travelers, since it incorporates a lot of activities that would be difficult to organize on their own.
Finally, determine the state of the park facilities. Lesser-known parks may boast the most wildlife, but if they don’t have the facilities to welcome a group, they might not be the best park to start with. Larger groups will especially value updated and accessible restrooms, restaurants and nearby accommodations.
Once you gather a few potential outdoor destinations, think how you can appeal to your loyalty group travel program. If some of your travelers have limited physical capabilities, consider outdoor excursions that require less walking. Trains, horseback rides, jeep excursions or cruises can enhance the experience with little walking involved. These experiences are accessible to most ability levels but retain the spirit of adventure.
Older clients that might still find these types of outings too rugged can enjoy other types of outdoor trips, such as tours themed around gardens, agritourism or the beach. Each of these experiences gets guests outside while also keeping close to modern conveniences.
Intergenerational trips often pair well with outdoor tours because of the wide variety of activities. A trip to Glacier National Park in Montana can attract the young and the old for its breathtaking views. Some travelers can experience these panoramas sitting on a deck, while others will want to hike five miles.
Staying at a lodge or a resort allows you to build in plenty of free time where travelers can decide how they would like to interact with nature. The Many Glacier Hotel at Glacier National Park offers extraordinary photos ops right out the window. It also runs water shuttles across its pristine lakes. For those looking for some adventure, several trails branch off from the lodge.
Resorts like Paws Up in Montana combine the proximity with nature that comes from camping with the comfort of its luxury campsites.
Selling Fresh Air
Once you’ve chosen the perfect outdoor-themed trip, start thinking about how to sell it. If the tour includes a lot of walking, don’t downplay it. Outdoor trips work best when passengers know what to expect. Include the required physicality of the trip, as well as the activity options, so that customers can feel confident in their trip purchase.
High-resolution photos of the trip’s beauty will also help attract previously wary travelers. A stunning mountain image can be more convincing than descriptive text. Ask tour operators for images to use or look online for royalty-free images that will entice viewers. Videos on YouTube can also provide a high-definition way to promote an outdoor destination ahead of time.
Once you’ve come up with your sales pitch, talk personally with people who may be on the fence about an outdoor tour. If they have only taken urban-themed tours previously, don’t count them out until you’ve spoken with them to hear their questions or concerns.
Whenever possible, ask a representative from a tour company to speak with your group so travelers can hear personal assurances about the trip. Even better, join a familiarization trip to the destination ahead of time so you can more effectively promote it.
With a little research and persuasion, you might find that sunshine and adventure is just what your members need most.