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What’s Trending Now in Group Travel

Outdoor and Nature Travel

Today’s travelers aren’t passive. They’re active. They don’t want to sit on a bus or in a cabin and watch the world pass them by. They want to get outdoors and get into nature.

“We’re all about getting people off the big bus and into the local culture as much as possible,” said Lucas Bialecki, U.S. groups business development manager for G Adventures. “It’s a different way to experience a destination rather than doing your traditional, generic motorcoach sightseeing.”

Baby boomers are more active than their parents, and younger people are more active still, he said. Part of being active is exploring nature.

“I’ve definitely seen an increased interest in getting outdoors,” he said.

In fact, “active” is one of the company’s seven travel styles. Active trips “are for people who want to hike or cycle or kayak while they’re traveling; I always describe them as people who want to sweat while they travel,” Bialecki said.

Every year, G Adventures sends thousands of people to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Another popular itinerary is a trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Although no one climbs Mount Everest, the trip takes travelers through rhododendron forests, over glaciers and into Sherpa villages.

During its Antarctica tours, travelers can get close to penguins and seals and can walk on the continent. And “for the really adventurous, we offer camping for one night so they can say they slept on Antarctica,” Bialecki said.

But G Adventures focuses on outdoor and nature-based activities in all its travel styles, not only the “active” category.

“A lot of our trips include what we call soft active adventures,” Bialecki said. “That might be hiking one day, cycling the next day, white-water rafting the next day, sea kayaking the next. During the course of seven days, you get a variety of different activities and get a different perspective of the landscape.”

For example, during an eight-day Local Living tour along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, four days feature organized hikes along the shore or through villages.

“It’s not overly active, but it’s for people to get out there and enjoy the fresh air while traveling,” Bialecki said.


Working Travelers, Shorter Trips

Travelers today have less time away from work or are working later in life, so they’re looking to squeeze shorter trips into their tight schedules. And no travelers are more time-pressed than Americans, who often only have a week or two of vacation time.

Travel companies are tweaking itineraries to accommodate these travelers, and tour operators are offering more seven- to 10-day vacations.

Goway Travel is working to change the perception of “long haul” travel and show people that exotic destinations can be done in less time, said Barbara Norton, general manager for Goway’s groups department.

That means marketing travel differently, she said, and making it clear that the person won’t be rushed, won’t have to spend a lot of time on the plane and can still relax and enjoy the experience.

“We have changed the way we market,” she said. “We’re trying to change that whole perception of long haul, that ‘I need two, three weeks.’ No, you don’t need that much time. You can go for seven days and relax, and you won’t spend all your time in a plane.”

The company’s islands program, for example, includes several seven-to-10-day tours to Fiji, Tahiti and the Cook Islands. The itineraries deliver plenty of exotic appeal but still work well for “people on the working side,” Norton said. Goway also recently shaved a couple of days from its 2015 Magic of Africa itinerary, cutting it from 16 days to 12 because, Norton said, “people didn’t want to go for so long.”

Working Americans are traveling more often but taking shorter trips because they’re trying to make the most of their time off, said Steve Perillo, CEO of Perillo Tours. That might be a long weekend here, a five-day trip there or a vacation that straddles a holiday weekend, he said.

Perillo Tours started planning trips to include two weekends and bookend a workweek. Although airfare is pricier on weekends, the trips work better for those who can take only a week off from work. In 2012, the company also introduced its seven-night Costa Rica trip specifically for travelers who have less time, he said.