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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Write it down

Look to vendors
Although Adcox and Gelven admit that their goals and ensuing methods to attract a younger audience are simply ideas and not formally written, they appear to be on the right track, at least according to Tony Etienne, vice president of business development at Collette Vacations, whose job it is to set official goals.

“It is our job to strategically work hand in hand with banks and know what direction to head with future travels,” he said. “Today, we know banks are trying to attract a different customer — a different type of traveler.

“While the business of working with just people over the ages of 60 and 70 may still be going well, we are now looking at destinations and types of tour programs to attract the 40- to 50-year-olds to motorcoach travel.”

That goal has proved to be successful with Explorations, small group tours for 16 to 24 passengers that Collette has offered for the past few years. “Explorations are geared toward first-time travelers looking for an intimate experience, seeing unique small properties in exotic locations. It is selling very well,” said Etienne.

Guided Family Tours, to be launched this summer, will offer 11 itineraries to groups of 16 to 25 people for locations that range from the Galapagos Islands to national parks in the United States.

“These tours will be geared toward a youth experience. There will be no 10-hour motorcoach rides and will perhaps offer pizza parties instead of wine tastings,” said Etienne. “Everything is preplanned so Dad doesn’t have to miss half the trip driving the wagon. This will be great for bank groups planning multigenerational trips.”

Not just tour operators are goal-setting for bank groups hoping to attract a younger audience; destinations are as well.

Annette Wood, director of group sales with the Branson Tourism Center in Missouri, said, “While we will always be the place that offers wholesome entertainment with over 100 shows, we are trying to expand those names on the marquees to keep Branson new and exciting. We’ve even had a rapper.”

Etienne thinks that is a smart idea. “Choosing the hot places to go three years in advance is not an easy job for those of us who have to look that far out. Tour operators, destinations and bank directors have to be proactive,” he said.