Large Tour Firms Jump on Exotic Travel Trend
by Robin Amster

A growing number of travelers are venturing far afield to exotic and remote destinations in search of once-in-a-lifetime vacations, prompting growing numbers of tour firms to expand in this direction.

While tour operators like Journeys International and G Adventures have long specialized in this type of travel – including adventure travel, ecotourism and “experiential” travel to exotic locales – larger tour operators are moving in.

The development has created more choices, and more decisions, for agents and their clients.

Agents will, of course, want to know if the specialist tour operator pays commission and many do, including Journeys International and G Adventures.

Once the commission question is answered, choosing between a smaller specialty firm and a larger tour op is a matter of assessing the different natures of each.

What specialty firms offer
“It’s not so much a question of taking people exclusively [to exotic destinations]; rather we take them differently,” said Will Weber, senior director and co-founder of Journeys International, a specialist in small group adventure travel and ecotourism.

Journeys International tailors its trips, “curating the experience to match the individual’s interest,” Weber said. “Many of our people tell us, ‘I don’t take group tours, but I know I can’t do this on my own.’”
 
“Our clients tend to have higher expectations in terms of gaining more in-depth knowledge from local guides and more opportunities for interactions on a personal basis.”

In contrast, the larger tour operators “tend to have a more generalized focus,” according to Weber.

The advantages of big
For Jeremy Palmer, Tauck Tours’ vice president/general manager, land division and new ventures, choosing between a specialist or larger tour operator, “is not an either/or. There are pros and cons to each.”

“If you’re going with someone who only goes to one place for 30 years, you would hope there’s a level of service that comes with that,” he said, adding: “I think we match that.

“But on the flip side, because we are so large, there are things clients can expect before and after the journey, not just while they are there,” Palmer said,

The tried and true
Traveling with a larger tour operator, especially to more remote destinations, provides travelers with a greater level of comfort, according to Steve Born, vice president of marketing for the Globus Family of Brands.

“We know these niche operators are perceived as specialists by agents, but they have to weigh that against more tried and true operators like us,” he said.

“A specialist operator may not have the range of product we offer and, with Globus, the different brands we have. It’s also more than likely the client will be more familiar with our brands, giving us more street cred.”

One advantage for agents is that bookings they make with Globus to exotic destinations contribute to their overall volume with the firm, whereas a booking with a specialist is likely to be a “one-off,” Born added.

Healthy competition
Overall, the increased competition in the exotic travel arena is desirable, said General Tours World Traveler president Bob Drumm.

“The competition is healthy, and it addresses the particular needs that travelers have,” Drumm said. Some companies focus on specific interests or activities, others on particular destinations and budgets.

“The U.S. has always had a very fragmented tour operator market, with operators offering tours all over the world,” he added.

Next time: Advice from tour operators on selling exotic destinations.

Related story
Tour Ops See Rising Demand for Exotic Destinations

  0
  0
Comment:
You must be logged in to leave a comment Login | Register
Tip of the Day
Remember that your travels, too, are part of this important aspect of provenance. Hard-copy photo albums or visuals on a smart phone can be part of the sales process where your photos, selfies, and home-made videos show where you've been and what you've done.
 
Steve Gillick
President, Talking Travel
Daily Top List

Popular Honeymoon Resorts in Hawaii

1. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

2. Sheraton Kauai Resort

3. Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

4. Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui

5. Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

6. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa

Source: Condé Nast Traveler

Top Stories
River Cruise Inspection: An African Safari on AmaWaterways’ Zambezi Queen
River Cruise Inspection: An African Safari on AmaWaterways’ Zambezi Queen

The river cruise vessel offers one of the most comfortable and scenic ways to experience a safari on the water, or any safari for that matter.

Trending Under the Umbrella of Wellness Travel: More Product for Agents to Sell
Trending Under the Umbrella of Wellness Travel: More Product for Agents to Sell

New retreats, new showpiece spas, multi-day programs at resorts, themed tours from operators, and other initiatives continue to grow the wellness-travel sector.

TSA Removes Head Of Security After Congressional Scrutiny
TSA Removes Head Of Security After Congressional Scrutiny

As complaints about long lines at security checkpoints grow, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has removed its head of security Kelly Hoggan from his post because of “mismanagement.”

Guadalajara Outlines Plan To Boost Tourism, Says Agents Hold Major Role
Guadalajara Outlines Plan To Boost Tourism, Says Agents Hold Major Role

Known as Latin America’s Silicon Valley, Guadalajara is looking to expand beyond the niche and make a push into leisure tourism. And it is asking travel agents to help.

EgyptAir Plane Goes Missing Midair
EgyptAir Plane Goes Missing Midair

Flight 804 was traveling from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean Sea.

Where U.S. Travelers Plan To Visit This Year
Where U.S. Travelers Plan To Visit This Year

A new survey shows Europe still tops the list.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Travel Market Report Spotlight: Celebrity Cocktails