Group Travel – THE FACTS

Last Thursday I attended the 2009 Group Travel Business Forum aboard the swanky RS Hispaniola moored at Victoria Embankment on the River Thames. The forum is held each year by Group Travel Organiser and is designed to update industry professionals with information on the Travel Trade Market followed by an open discussion.

This year’s topic was ‘Understanding the groups market,’ with research findings presented by QA Research, Tourism South East and Visit Manchester – three different views on attracting the groups market.

Tourism South East are experts in the field and came up with some interesting findings by conducting a survey for both tour operators and destination attractions. They found the best way to gain a response was through face to face interviews and follow ups from contacts made at the Excursions exhibition. The thing that struck me most about their findings was that tour operators are always looking for something new and less than half of them would re-visit the same place twice unless there was a new development or specific event.  This made me think carefully about how we package destinations in Lancashire and how we must push new developments and our ‘hidden gems’ to maximise on this need for new information.

QA Research targeted Group Travel Organisers for their research and found that, even though online resources were slowly becoming more utilised, it was printed brochures that were the preferred forms of marketing material and the driver for them to book a group holiday. It was also highlighted that, more and more, they are looking for value for money and expect the attractions and accommodation providers on their tours to help them fill places. You need to help them to help you.

Lastly, Visit Manchester is still looking at the best ways to reach the travel trade and push Manchester as a group friendly destination. They found that their recognisable themes were shopping, sport and theatre but were hardly recognised for their countryside and heritage offerings. It was decided that, in order to reach the groups market, they would focus more on promoting these attributes in the future.

I found the day really useful in highlighting what the groups market are looking for and the trends that appear to be happening in a changing market. Better get the thinking cap on!

You can find the QA Research results at www.grouptravelorganiser.com/gtbf09/ngtr09

The Tourism South East summary can be found here www.grouptravelorganiser.com/gtbf09/tse09

Kate Roberts

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