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Ever Thought of Leading a Group Trip?

Mar 24, 2021

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Five Things You Need to Know

For those considering a shift in careers or looking for a new side gig, the group travel business certainly has its allures. Leading tours and getting paid for it seems to be a dream job.

Aspiring group travel organizers with visions of jumping into the business should have a clear idea of the landscape and the opportunities that await.

Here are five things to know:

  1. Think Local. Existing clubs, churches and organizations in your community represent ready-made groups ripe for travel, and they can become your loyal clientele as you carve out a niche in the business. Themed trips can be organized for a theater or music group, senior center, or a garden, birding, biking or ski club. Perhaps your town’s college is a candidate for alumni group travel. Also consider friends, family and cohorts as a customer base—coming out of the pandemic, private group travel is expected to flourish as people yearn to reconnect with each other.
  2. Group Travel Has Evolved. Though traditional bus tours for senior citizens are still around, groups these days tend to be younger, smaller and bound by a common interest. Customized trips have largely replaced the cookie-cutter sightseeing tour that your parents or grandparents may have enjoyed. Examples might be corralling a group of buddies for a golf trip or working with a church eager to promote fellowship through travel.
  3. Experiential Travel Is Big. Today’s travelers are interested in doing, not just seeing. Building participatory activities into the tour makes for some of the best memories. It could be a wine-and-paint session or a one-hour cooking class with a local chef followed by a meal in the restaurant. Getting together with a local club that shares your group’s interests also can freshen up the itinerary, as can a private, behind-the-scenes tour of a theater or museum. These are kinds of experiences not generally available to individual travelers.
  4. Latching on to Pre-Packaged Tours. While you can create your own itineraries—booking hotels, meals, local guides and transportation—you can also buy a trip through a recognized wholesale tour operator that does all the legwork. Putting your group on a tour off the shelf may not be as profitable as creating your own product, but it’s a wise move for the novice or for a destination you’re not so familiar with. This option relieves you of the operational details and lets you concentrate on marketing the tour. Perhaps you can work with the operator to modify their standard itinerary for your group.
  5. Starting a Business. If you’re thinking about giving this a go, this is the perfect home-based business. It doesn’t require a large up-front investment, and there is no staff to hire. You do need a computer, a website, an email account and time to research trips. But keep in mind that, unless you have plenty of savings, you will need a sustaining source of income, as it may be many months before launching your first trip. Don’t give up your day job.

If you’re curious about how to get started in the group travel business, a new book, Guest contributor: Randy Mink

About the Author

Randy Mink is the senior editor of Leisure Group Travel, a periodical, website and e-newsletter for the group travel industry.

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