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Tips for Using Virtual Elements to Generate Real Travel

A simple photo of a beach is enough to make many people swoon these days. Almost a year into the pandemic, travel lovers are itching to return to the skies and explore the world.

According to recent research by Expedia Group, one in two travelers feels optimistic about traveling this year. This optimism mixed with pent-up global wanderlust can help you and other travel planners reignite group travel.

Encourage your travelers to return to the road with some virtual travel inspiration.

Virtual Recommendations

Most travel planners already send out regular e-newsletters or social media posts to their followers. To maximize your impact in encouraging safe travel, you can recommend activities that remind members why they love to travel.

For example, send them a list of high-quality travel documentaries or travel-related shows they can watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, such as “Into the Canyon,” “Japan With Sue Perkins” or “Our Planet.” Fiction also has a history of motivating people to travel. List some classics, like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Out of Africa,” as well as some of your personal favorites.

Travel-related podcasts, books, YouTube videos, blogs, music stations, food-themed shows and history documentaries can also make fun ways to connect with members. For more hands-on activities, suggest some travel-related hobbies that are available online for free, such as learning a new language, regional dance instruction or international cooking.

The more personal the recommendations the better. Rather than randomly listing shows to watch, view some yourself and then share your top picks. Or you could mention ideas that relate to an upcoming trip to build anticipation.

Virtual Tours

When the pandemic initially caused attractions around the globe to close, virtual tours became a popular alternative to in-person visits. Although everyone would agree there is no replacement for real travel, these tours can excite your travelers about future visits. For example, if you are planning an upcoming trip to Yosemite National Park, you can send a link to the 3D virtual tour to build enthusiasm.

Since the pandemic has negatively affected group travel, try livestreaming the destination yourself. Some group leaders preview destinations in person before sending their members there. If you go on a FAM trip or a solo trip to investigate a future destination, livestream moments of the experience. Groups can see for themselves how safe everything will be if you show them videos of the precautions taken at destinations, hotels and restaurants.

Before livestreaming, you should let groups know what time to watch for the video. For example, if you know you’ll be touring a hotel on a certain day and at a certain time, send out a link on which members can click to watch the tour with you. You can livestream a video on Facebook, YouTube or other platforms.

A simpler tactic is to take the video on-site, then send out a link to the prerecorded video to your members on social media or YouTube.

If you can’t go yourself, request the vendor send you a livestream or prerecorded video to show firsthand what precautions are being taken. Many motorcoach companies have already created these types of safety videos that you can share with your group.

Virtual Past and Future

One way to take members’ minds off the current downturn in travel is to relive the past. Help them recall their previous trips with your group virtually. You can make this as elaborate as you want. Many websites, like, allow you to create virtual travel books you can share.

For a quick trip down memory lane, share a featured travel photo of the month for your members to enjoy. Facebook makes this process even easier if you regularly post on the social media site. Access the site’s Memories tab to see what you posted on that date in previous years that you can repost for your followers.

But the past should only be one aspect of your virtual travel inspiration. Encourage your members to think about future trips you may be planning.

Vivid images with relevant content are sometimes all it takes. A gorgeous photo of the Grand Canyon with a travel quote for a scheduled Arizona trip might inspire someone to book a trip. Promotional videos encourage even deeper connections with the destination.

However else you decide to virtually inspire your travelers, remember that travel is not the only thing that brings your members together. The relationships between you and the members of your group are the connections that will exist long after this pandemic.