Sponsored by The Travel Corporation
January 23, 2018
Today’s travelers do not want a cookie-cutter experience. From strolling through castle gardens with a duchess to a private dinner at the Vatican, research shows clients are seeking vacations that are as unique as they are.
In response to the evolving wants and needs of travelers, guided vacations do just this, bringing guests deep into the heart of the destination while taking care of all the logistics—so guests can focus on what truly matters. With flexible itineraries, local dining options, authentic accommodations, expert in-destination knowledge and consistently high customer satisfaction ratings, guided vacations are going above and beyond the typical vacation.
“Americans are hungry for fresh experiences that expand their horizons and give them a new perspective—they really want to see a destination from an insider’s point of view,” says Chris Wommer, senior travel product representative of The Auto Club Group, in Dearborn, Michigan. “With a guided vacation, you’re seeing the destination from the inside out, such as dining with a Parisian family in their home or taking a private black cab tour of Belfast’s murals while hearing personal stories about what life was like during the Northern Ireland Troubles. These are the kind of rich experiences guided vacations offer, and you simply won’t find them on your own.”
Guided vacations deliver experiences that today’s travelers seek, and more. Genuine human experiences? Check. Cultural immersion? Check. Time to relax and connect with loved ones? Check!
This summer, for example, Melissa da Silva, president of Trafalgar USA, traveled to the U.S. national parks on a guided vacation with her family, a decision she had made prior to joining the Trafalgar team. Ease of planning, a well-developed itinerary, and experienced guides allowed her and her family to truly experience the wonders of the parks.
“We just had the most relaxing time because every detail was taken care of,” says da Silva. “I could not imagine doing the trip on our own, driving around with my two daughters directing me on Google Maps, researching which restaurants we’re supposed to eat at that night and trying to figure out exactly what we were supposed to know about the geothermal activity in Yellowstone. Instead, our Travel Director told us about all the highlights of the day, and we met with local experts everywhere we went, so my kids got a much deeper understanding of the culture and destination.”
The nature of a guided vacation also allows travelers to focus on what’s really important—the travel experience and each other—without being distracted by planning and travel details, which are seamlessly incorporated into a guided vacation. Da Silva, for example, says, “It allowed connectivity because I didn’t have to stress out about anything at all. At the end of that trip, even though we were traveling from one place to the next for eight days, I don’t think I’ve ever come away feeling so refreshed or connected to my family.”
In addition to allowing family members to focus on each other and learn about what makes the destination unique, guided vacations also allow clients to connect with like-minded travelers who are seeking similar experiences.
“On the first day of our trip, my daughter made friends with a young girl from Australia, and they became inseparable, sitting on the coach together every day and eating dinner together at night,” says da Silva. “And it’s not just kids who make connections. Many different family units become friends with other families. That doesn’t happen when you’re traveling on your own, and I think people crave these connections.”
Great Experiences at Great Value
With guided vacations, it’s not just about the great experiences that guests will enjoy while traveling, but also about the great value of this travel style. Because packages are negotiated in bulk, guided operators have the buying power to secure powerful deals. It’s difficult, as a traveler, to put together the experiences of a guided vacation by booking all the components individually. Those doing so would more than likely find higher price tags—and only after hours of research and planning. In a time-deprived world, how you can put a price on that? Additionally, many of the unique experiences guided vacations have become known for are not available to the public, like after-hours access to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s famed home in Memphis, Tennessee. With exclusive access to experiences like these, value extends beyond the price tag.
The range of possible experiences and destinations means that guided vacations offer just the right experience for any kind of traveler interests and a wide range of demographics—opening up the sales potential to many different kinds of travelers.
“Guided vacations are great for singles since you have the security of traveling in a group. They are also great for girlfriend getaways and for anyone who wants to do a two- to three-night stay in a city,” says Nicole Mazza, chief marketing officer of Travelsavers.