Why now’s a good time to sell touring holidays – and how to do it

By Lisa James
Home » Why now’s a good time to sell touring holidays – and how to do it

Operators say there’s never been a better time for agents to sell touring holidays. Demand is partly fuelled by the desire to make up time lost during the pandemic, along with a growing trend to experience something different and get under the skin of a destination. It’s also fuelled by time-poor clients who want to leave the organisation and fine details down to an expert.

Titan Travel Head of Sales Hayley Morris says: “The desire to make up for lost time and experience new destinations following the pandemic remains. Not only has this led to a surge in travel, but customers now, more so than ever, value the extra support and inclusions they get from a touring holiday.”

G Adventures UK Managing Director Brian Young told Travel Gossip: “More than ever, people want to do more than sitting on a beach for two weeks. The sector has captured the imagination of a wider audience seeking unique and authentic experiences and who want to create lifelong memories, while also giving back by visiting community tourism projects.”

And, with a huge choice available from operators, such as those that offer coach tours, river cruises, history, adventure, cycling, walking or immersive experiences, there is a tour for everyone.

What type of people go on a touring holiday?

Exoticca Managing Director Neil Sealy says: “The type of person going on touring holidays has really expanded in recent years. Traditionally, touring tended to appeal to the more mature traveller or the adventurous younger traveller, but we are seeing many families opting for touring now because parents value the education touring holidays gives their kids, with the opportunities to deep dive into different cultures and experiences. 

“This makes it harder to easily identify a potential touring client, but I would say anyone who wants to experience a destination is a touring client – they just may not realise it until you tell them!”

Most Riviera Travel tour clients are aged 55+, while Explore says its ‘average’ customer is aged between 40 and 60, but ranges from 20-70 years of age.

Jules Verne Business Development Manager Abbey Renshaw says touring clients have ‘an appetite for adventure, seeking an immersive, authentic and efficient travel experience exploring the key cultural, historical and natural wonders of a destination whilst also being taken off the beaten track to experience hidden treasures and local life – but without having to plan’.

And G Adventures’ Brian Young believes: “Touring is for everyone. It’s the responsibility of the agent to highlight a suitable touring product before the customer finds it and books it themselves.”

What’s selling well?

For Jules Verne, Uzbekistan (pictured) and Italy have been two of its most popular destinations for 2024. Its ‘Golden Road to Samarkand’ and ‘Treasures of Sicily’ tours are first and second in terms of bookings.

Jules Verne’s Abbey Renshaw says: “Whilst Italy has long been a customer favourite, Uzbekistan has seen a surge in popularity; at the end of 2023, we added 12 new departures to the destination to keep up with customer demand and six of the 2024 departures have already sold out.”

Explore’s most popular tours involve walking and cycling, including two seven-night tours: ‘Cycle the Dalmatian Coast’ and ‘Amalfi Coast Walking – Agriturismo’. Titan says South East Asia, Canada, India and Costa Rica are some of its most popular destinations at the moment, with the Middle East also making a comeback.

Riviera’s biggest destinations are Andalucia in Spain, Sicily and Japan. Product Director Will Sarson says: “These destinations have always been hugely popular with our customers because of the incredible mix of scenery, history and culture in each of the destinations.  We have seen some slightly less common places selling well recently too such as Montenegro and Malaysia & Borneo.”

Exoticca’s most popular tours range from South Africa to Portugal, Peru, Egypt (pictured below), Vietnam, Turkey and Costa Rica. MD Neil Sealy says: “People are generally looking for the destinations which offer the best value for money within their area of interest, whether it is wildlife, history, nature, culture or a combination.”

What’s new or different?

Jules Verne has added European gentle walking tours to offer a new take on well-known destinations such as Italy, Greece and France, including walking in the Dolomites or visiting a family-run olive oil producer in Crete.

Riviera’s new range of Signature holidays include ‘extra special’ experiences in the cost, such as lunch on an Italian farm, a twilight river cruise or a flight over a city for a unique viewpoint.

One of Explore’s most unusual tours is the ‘Benin and Togo Voodoo Discovery’, where guests get an insight into two countries rarely visited by tourists, experiencing traditional ceremonies, remote villages, varied landscapes, elaborate costumes and voodoo festivals.

Selling tips

Milestone experiences
People are looking for once-in-a-lifetime trips to celebrate significant milestones, such as a big birthday or special occasion.

Bowl them over
Riviera’s Will Sarson says touring holidays mix iconic sights and hidden gems, ‘which means there will always be something in the tour that will blow the customer away’, while G Adventures’ Brian Young said agents should: “Promote the life-changing aspects of adventure and touring trips, which offer some of the most awe-inspiring experiences on earth, way above what any beach package and cruising trip can offer.”

Value for money
Stress the great value for money that tours offer, with meals, excursions, a knowledgeable tour manager and other extras in the price, such as Titan’s VIP Door-to-Door service. 

Highlight how stress-free booking a tour is rather than the client doing all work themselves before and during their tour. 

Selling up
“Don’t forget about the opportunity to add an extension onto any of our tours that can further enrich and personalise their travel experience, providing them that ‘something different’,” advises Titan’s Hayley Morris.  

Know your client
“Home in on your customer’s personal passions and find a tour with unique experiences which directly cater to these,” says Jules Verne’s Abbey Renshaw, adding: “Even if a customer thinks they already know a destination, tours offer the chance to see it in a ‘new, refreshing light’.”

Find out more about adventure holidays here.

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