You have a plan. Your church group moves from Boone Hall Plantation to Fort Sumter National Monument today. Then a couple of younger passengers ask if they can skip out on Fort Sumter for a Charleston shopping spree. What do you do?
Group travel has been moving towards more and more flexible itineraries for years. It makes passengers feel less like you are herding them around from one stop to the next. Saying yes to moments when passengers want to veer off from the plan can positively change their outlook on a trip.
However, letting people change course mid-trip is fraught with worries and challenges. Planning ahead can make sure the itineraries have built in enough time so church members have the free time they desire without derailing the trip.
Choices you’ve woven into the itinerary also help you control the situation a little more, if you know that you have some major shoppers on your trip who might need a break from the historic attractions. Ask ahead of time which site they would prefer the motorcoach dropped them off at.
Trips with baby boomers or younger travelers often thrive on these options. It helps diminish the stigma of group travel if they know the trip will be filled with personal choice.
Make sure your tour operator supports trip flexibility both by the structure of the itinerary and by asking how they cope with passengers who wish to deviate from the schedule. If they offer tours with plenty of personal time and know how to accommodate travelers that make requests in a professional way, then they will work well for your baby boomer or younger groups.
Many tour operators offer choices for dinner to groups instead of one set reservations. Or they might offer different activities at a particular location that a group member can choose last minute.
Finally, make sure you and your group members understand what their travel insurance will cover and what it won’t. Let them know before the trip, so if travelers decide to leave the group, they already know what insurance risks they are taking or not.
Adding trip flexibility into your tours does take more pre-planning, but satisfied customers who wouldn’t normally choose group travel will help your faith-based travel club thrive.