Comment: The evolution of touring is opening up the world

If customers are considering booking an escorted tour but are concerned it lacks a sense of adventure, there are plenty of positive things you should be telling them, says Jane Atkins, managing director of Shearings Holidays

There is a common misconception about touring, specifically coach touring, that it’s for mature people only and that it can be a bit unimaginative. However, the reality is there is so much more to touring than meets the eye, and the sector is responding in many exciting ways.

Agents should be telling customers that an escorted tour gives you the best of both worlds – the company of like-minded individuals (when you are looking for it) and the chance to explore destinations that you may not have chosen. You can experience new cultures,  watch your favourite sporting events and even learn a new skill…with everything taken care of from start to finish. The range of tours has never been more diverse. Companies are capitalising on the growing interest in the sector, and creating interesting programmes with more flexible itineraries.

For example, at Shearings we are continuously updating our portfolio with fresh ideas to respond to the changing preferences of the over-50s.  Abta research in 2016 showed a growing interest in sporting holidays, and that a great number of Brits were planning to see a major sporting event overseas. As a result, we updated our 2017 programme with walking holidays and special interest breaks to festivals and sporting events such as the Monaco and Monza Grand Prix. These tours sold so well that we will be introducing three more Grand Prix-themed tours for 2018.

This new form of escorted touring presents a shift from the standard, as operators look at ways to entice more customers to try an escorted holiday.

Some of the positive sides of travelling on an escorted tour that you should keep in mind and tell your customers include:

Peace of mind

An escorted tour is a great way to package a holiday, without having to worry about doing it yourself. Everything is taken care of, and operators will organise return travel and transfers, accommodation, meals, and even excursions while there.

For those concerned about being ‘stuck on a bus’, you can reassure them they’ll be travelling in style.  With Shearings, for example, customers travel on brand-new Mercedes Tourismo coaches with generous legroom, individual overhead service controls and arm and footrests, and most importantly a whole host of safety features as a given.

Customers are also offered free coach pick-ups from more than 650 joining points and flexible options using coach, air or rail, and on premium Grand Tourer escorted tours, we offer a free Home Connect Service from various postcodes to provide ultimate peace of mind.

Security & cultural immersion

Choose an escorted tour and you’ll enjoy the comfort and security of travelling with people who share your passion for travel. You’ll also benefit from the services of an experienced tour manager who is always on hand to share their knowledge on the destinations you visit.

Escorted tours offer the opportunity to experience diverse cultures, and tours are designed to showcase the hidden gems of a destination, often with the chance to sample the local cuisine, mingle with locals and experience new places. These holidays aren’t just about taking photos of the best landmarks; they’re about making the best memories.

For those environmentally conscious customers, it’s also worth reminding them that coach travel is one of the greenest ways to travel, and it’s also a great way to sit back and take in the surrounding scenery.

Final word

In this day and age, it’s important to appreciate that even group travel has to present an element of individuality and, at Shearings, we have successfully adapted to this ever-evolving market and will continue to do so. This includes introducing a worldwide touring programme, which takes us back to the misconception that touring lacks a sense of adventure.

Like all Atas members, we put our customer’s requirements at the top of our considerations, and as their expectations broaden, so we will continue to evolve. Regardless of age, there are no barriers to exploring the world.

To find out more about Shearings, click here.

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