‘Our partners are excited to see the return of touring, because it makes their lives easier. Rather than building up an itinerary with hotels, restaurants and day tours, it can all be taken care of by booking with us.’
Ambler adds that multi-generation trips have ‘taken off’ post pandemic.
‘We have seen it with Trafalgar particularly but also Insight and Luxury Gold – sometimes with grandparents, children and grandparents, or parents and their young children, people who are 45 plus travelling with their 70s plus parents.’
She says Trafalgar has specific family orientated itineraries with child friendly activities like a pizza making class in a small Italian village, or a gladiator school in the Colosseum.
Ambler adds that there is a definite trend towards open age touring by a younger demographic.
‘Luxury Gold has been a surprise – we’re seeing many millennials with high disposal income opting for that brand.’
She says Costsaver has always been the youngest demographic of the brands’ open-age brands, attracting mainly 35 to 55 year old passengers.
‘They’ve got to have the energy to build their own itinerary with the options we provide and to plan out what they want to do – but they’ve aged out of Contiki.’
Touring makes strides with new customers, agents
The Travel Corporation has seen a sharp increase in customers who are new to touring, says TTC’s managing director Oceania tour brands, Toni Ambler.
‘Our stats show that 86% of those who have travelled with us in 2022-23 are new to brand. That’s a huge opportunity for the trade, because once a client has experienced a tour with us they are likely to repeat the experience.
‘For example, we have people doing their 50th Trafalgar trip.’
Ambler says travellers are also increasing the length of the trips and combining tours back to back. ‘The strength of our brands is that people can jump seamlessly from one to the other – for example Trafalgar to Insight.’
She says cruise obviously continue to be strong and there are big opportunities for the trade to add a tour onto that to build up a trip.
Ambler accepts that for some agents touring may not be a straightforward sell.
‘It’s hard to ‘teach touring’. It’s not as tangible as cruise – we’re not selling a coach. It’s all about what happens in the destination.
‘Of course we take travellers to the icons, they want to see places like Venice and Barcelona. However, it’s also about hyper-local experiences, going into local villages or less visited regions and spreading the tourism dollar to parts of the world that need it and want it.’