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The Trend Towards Smaller Tours

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In a recent Insights article on Travel Weekly, author Michelle Baran alludes to the trend towards smaller and exclusive groups of travelers that has operators increasingly creating escorted itineraries for as few as two people, and asks the question, “What’s going on with us as travelers that all these escorted tour companies keep evolving their product offering to cater to smaller, more intimate groups, or to travelers who’d rather go it alone?”

Baran says that increased exclusivity in today’s consumer preferences has travelers eschewing larger groups for smaller ones, or even just friends or family:

So let’s face it, we’re kind of becoming a bunch of “mean girls” — a bit cliquey, if you will. We’ve prejudged potential traveling partners before we’ve even met them and decided we don’t want to travel with these elusive strangers. The question is, why? Have we bad experiences on group trips? Are we foreseeing potentially awkward or unsavory encounters with our faceless travel companions?

What’s interesting is that tour operators often tout that the hidden secret to success of many tours is the bonds that form among the passengers on these trips. True, you might not click with everyone you are traveling with, but there might be some potential lifelong friends in the mix, or at least some very fun traveling pals.

What do you think is causing this more independent touring preference in the market?

Read the entire article.

4 Comments to The Trend Towards Smaller Tours

  1. We have seen a similar trend, but feel it is largely due to a traveler’s desire to customize – not due to wanting to be alone. They want to be able to add in or remove components of a tour that they want or don’t want, and that then rarely matches up with another person’s particular desire for that tour – so you end up having 2 or 3 separate “tweaked” tours for what originally would have typically been 1 group tour. We customize but still offer “customized” tours to new travelers, and some do still join up to create a group tour experience if they all agree to the customized elements chosen by the original first booking. I’m glad to see we are not the only ones seeing this trend!

  2. Rosemary Graham-Gardner

    Being a Travel Facilitator-Interpreter in the Southwest of the US, I am now experiencing a very serious trend of the Industry. The Tour Companies embellish and put way too many things in the Itinerary that are impossible to do properly within the frame of time in order to sell the tours and the tourists themselves who are increasingly demanding and want their pittance’s worth. The new trend is now, to get reimbursement for the slightest complaint so they can go on another one of those nightmare trip who are impossible to effectuate and for the bussdriver who is worked to death and the Tour director with the entire responsibility of the Tour conceived by some idiot who has never been in the Southwest and has no idea of the distances and what it is like to move groups of more than 45 tourists. I would suggest stricter laws and for the driver what concerns the hours and also the Tour director. We are not even mentioning the illegal guides hired by the companies foreign countries who know nothing about local laws, don’t pay taxes and undermine our jobs..
    This Industry needs to be regulated!

  3. The trend towards smaller groups (8-12 pax) and even individual travel is more out of people’s desire to enjoy a trip at their own pace rather than be rushed about. As Incoming Destination Management parters we see more demand in this segment. There is a keen desire for interaction with the local people in whichever country is being visited.

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