The Sharing Economy
At the fringes of the travel industry but poised to make a huge impact is a new business-and-technology movement known collectively as the sharing economy. That trend uses smartphone apps to help people find transportation, meals and even overnight accommodations without working through traditional providers or sales channels. Companies such as Uber, which is disrupting the taxi industry, and Airbnb, a challenger to the traditional hotel model, have gotten considerable press (as well as significant regulatory scrutiny), and others, such as EatWith and OpenTable, are on the verge of making waves in the restaurant world. Though these services aren’t yet making an impact in group travel, it would be useful for travel planners to know how to use them in a bind and to keep an eye out for how they will change the travel landscape in the future.
The traditional 50-seat motorcoach has been the workhorse of group travel for decades, and it’s often still the best transportation option for full-size, sold-out trips. But as group sizes trend toward smaller, more intimate excursions, a change in equipment can help make trips more enjoyable and affordable. Coach companies now offer a variety of smaller vehicles that can accommodate 15 to 20 passengers at lower prices, as well as full-size luxury coaches that include amenities such as leather seats, tables, flat-screen televisions, galleys and bars. These classy rides make an innovative way to treat your travelers to an upscale experience without busting your budget.