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Use Time on the Coach to Your Advantage

Traveling by motorcoach is a great way to move a large group. However, without any entertainment, coach tours can have more than their share of long, boring stretches.

Motorcoaches are more comfortable than airplanes and offer a lot more legroom. Getting on and off the coach is more manageable than keeping a group together through airport security checkpoints. And if you factor in all the extra time involved in flying — from arriving early at the airport to gathering bags at the arrival airport — flying with a group often takes as much time as traveling by coach. Many tour planners choose the motorcoach when possible. However, choosing that option leaves them with some gaps in entertainment.

We all know that long trips can feel longer when there’s nothing to do en route. That’s why games are the most popular form of entertainment during motorcoach tours.

One-handed card games, such as Bingo, are a popular choice among tour planners. To keep the cards together, try hole punching each set of cards and using a fastener to attach them so they can slide in and out from the hand. There are also many types of travel card games available for purchase. Keep a few packs on the coach and make them available upon request for your travelers. They might even want to use them in the evenings at the hotel.

Giveaways are a lot of fun on the bus. They don’t take much involvement and can create a fun moment of anticipation for your travelers. To create some excitement, try breaking up the drawings evenly throughout the trip. If you have a six-hour drive with your travelers, draw the name of a prize winner at the top of each hour. To enhance the fun, have some game-show music ready to accompany the drawing. Don’t forget to bring prizes!

Of course, there are many ideas for games on a bus, but if you have a more tech-savvy group, try some game apps. There are a lot of great apps for group games. Do some research and choose an app that fits your group best. My groups enjoy trivia apps. Everyone downloads the app and selects the category, and the questions appear on their phones. Using your phone to play games can reduce the amount of things you have to bring on board the coach, making your travel load that much lighter. 

Movies are another go-to for group travel. However, picking films can often be difficult, because some people like romance and others might like Westerns. Regardless of the genre, though, travelers generally want to learn about the places they are going to visit. Try playing movies that are relevant to your destination. If you can’t find a documentary, an iconic film about the city or state you are visiting is a good choice.

Professional tour directors often prepare commentary to help keep people engaged during long stretches on the motorcoach. You may not have a full-time tour director for every trip you take, but you can learn from this technique and prepare your own commentary for the road. Try researching the route you’ll be traveling ahead of time. Once the route is established, explore the area and find interesting facts to share with your group. With a little bit of research, you can be the expert guide on the long journey to your destination.

Here’s another idea: Use downtime on the motorcoach to your advantage by taking it as an opportunity to promote your future trips. After all, you already have a captive audience with a proven interest in group travel. So tell them about other trips you have planned for the current year and thoughts about the following year. You might even ask your group to give you ideas and ask what’s on their bucket lists. A group discussion can be a great way to get ideas for the future. Gauge the interest levels of your travelers as you mention potential destinations, and perhaps even take a straw poll to see which suggested trips are most popular. Just keep in mind that not everyone who expresses interest in an upcoming trip will actually book.

In addition to talking about upcoming trips, you can use time on the motorcoach to talk about your affinity institution. If you’re a banker, your club exists in part to help bring in deposits, so try discussing your deposit products. CDs and savings accounts are great products to promote to bank club travelers. Just be ready to pull an up-to-date interest rate from your company’s website, because your travelers will ask for it. If you plan travel for a university alumni group or chamber of commerce, there are similar opportunities to talk about the value your organization can bring to members.

There are a lot of fun and educational ways to entertain travelers on the motorcoach. Keep in mind, though, that you probably won’t find a single one that appeals to everyone on every trip. Some people might not want to play games, and that’s OK. Some might not watch the movie or listen to your commentary or presentation. That’s OK, too. Just focus on the travelers who want to be entertained and allow the others to read, sleep or do whatever they do to enjoy the ride.

Ashley Runyon

Ashley Taylor is a longtime bank and travel club planner. She lives in Ashland, Kentucky, with her family of six.