Comment: Escorted touring market very buoyant

Paul Mellon, sales development manager at Riviera Travel picks out some current trends

The market currently is very buoyant with many customers realising the benefits of touring. One of the biggest growth areas in touring currently is with the Solo traveller market. At Riviera Travel our Solos programme continues to evolve and our new brochure has grown 45% over last years version and we have for the first time organised a bulk drop of this brochure to independent agents.

Solo travellers have often been put off joining a “regular” tour if they feel they maybe the only single person on that group. Some customers fear that if this is the case they will end up dinning with the only other single traveller or the coach driver! With Riviera Travel that is of course not the case. The average age in this segment is 67 and it appeals to many customers who for example may have unfortunately lost a partner and are looking to holiday again or those that just want to travel with likeminded travellers.

Being on an escorted tour will mean that the Tour Manager will always encourage the customer to mix with the group but if they want to have time alone or eat by themselves then that is just fine by us. At Riviera Travel we have bespoke solo itineraries such as our new Valencia tour plus we also have four exclusive River Cruises for our solos groups on the Danube, Rhone, Douro and the Nile as well as one of our Adriatic Yacht cruises.

For the general touring market it’s a combination of classic tours and something “a little different” that attracts our clients at the moment. Tours such as our Transylvania tour of Romania, Northern Cyprus and our new Montenegro tour have sparked the interest of the seasoned traveller while our classic tours of Italy and Spain continue to be perenial top sellers. We have re-introduced our Jordan & Petra tour and further afield, South Africa, Vietnam and Japan continue to see annual growth. What better way to see the iconic sights of the world in the company of one of our expert Tour Managers, and also have a group of ‘new friends’ to share the experiences with.

One obstacle I often hear from travel agents when selling escorted touring is that customers don’t like the thought of constantly packing and unpacking from one hotel to another. What many don’t realise is the amount of “single centre” tours where customers are based in one hotel and take daily inclusive tours of the surrounding regions. For example for 2019 we have introduced a new tour to Umbria where customers spend seven nights staying in Perugia, and do all their touring from this base.

Finally our short break city tours are also a great introduction to touring and are as always proving popular. Destinations such as Paris, Bruges and Krakow start from as little as £279pp including flights or Eurostar, transfers and excursions included all escorted by one of our expert Tour Managers. There really is a destination and tour for everyone! Many agents dynamically package city breaks. You may be surprised that our short tours will have price parity with a city break but of course include so much more.

Our Facebook group “Riviera Travel Agents” is a great go-to page for all the latest on our new tours,  plus you can view our promotional material and videos as well as seeing the latest incentives and competitions.

In summary, escorted touring customers are very loyal and will travel time and again so happy selling everyone!