“As a business, you cannot sit back and wait. You have to go out on the front foot.”
So said Brian Young, G Adventures MD, when he spoke to Tourism Update and described a range of innovations the company had designed and introduced during the 19 months that turned the tour operator industry on its head.
To understand the needs, wants and expectations of its customers, G Adventures conducted a global survey among customers during the pandemic. Of the 4 624 responses, 56% said having a vaccinated tour guide (known as Chief Experience Officer, or CEO) was more important than their fellow travellers being vaccinated; 45% said they would want their fellow travellers to be vaccinated when travelling in a small group.
G Adventures has now introduced two programmes reflecting the wants of its customers:
- A Vaccinated Tours programme. Each trip has a fully-vaccinated CEO to lead the tour, and all travellers must also be fully vaccinated.
- A Travel-Ready Tours programme. The CEO and all travellers must either be fully vaccinated or have a negative PCR test within the 96 hours before day one of the tour’s departure. The Travel Ready Tours acknowledge the slower roll-out of vaccines in some destinations, and the company wants to ensure equitable access to employment opportunities for CEOs in destinations where vaccines are not easily accessed yet. G Adventures also actively assists CEOs to access vaccines in their home countries.
Of the tours departing in October, G Adventures says 304 departures will operate as Vaccinated Tours and 64 will be designated Travel-Ready. An icon will feature next to each trip on the website to indicate which category the departure falls under.
Young pointed out that on all the company’s tours, G Adventures’ existing Travel with Confidence policy was still in place – the enhanced health, safety and physical distancing measures.
Many of these tours, of both types, are just the sort of adventures that active clients have been hankering after.
According to Young, a trend developed during the lockdowns. Travel was taken away, so people got out and started walking and developing a fondness for exercise and achievement – and they had the time to research their ideal holiday, often a very active and achievement-oriented experience.
So, the Kilimanjaro Trek, amongst others, is proving popular.
G Adventures trends
- G Adventures has launched active hiking holidays to more traditional holiday destinations such as Crete Hiking, Corfu Hiking and Ibiza Hiking.
- Young said the idea of ‘bubbles’ had caught on, and G Adventures was selling any of its off-the-shelf products such as Private Tours, in which people could create their own ‘bubble’.
- The company is giving customers the flexibility to change any booked tour to another completely different one, up to 14 days before departure.
- “South Africa will come back strong. Africa stands to benefit from the type of travel people now want,” said Young.
- He said at the start of the pandemic, when people saw and heard about the logistical nightmares of tourists having to stop their holidays and get home fast, this created a preference among travellers for opting for an organised, small group tour rather than taking the risk of going it alone.
- Shorter lead-in times were a definite trend, he said. “Because G Adventures has so many tours running at once, there is a great likelihood of the client being able to leave really soon on the tour of their choice.”