Groups Touring Project

By Dennis Bunnik
  • 6 December 2016
  • News

Over the past 10 years cruising has been very successful in coming together as a sector. As a result they changed the image of the cruising, engaged and inspired both the travel consultants and the travelling public and, importantly, grown their sector many times over.

This is in stark contrast to the touring sector which has lacked a common voice. Whilst the touring product has changed over the years the image of touring has not really changed in the minds of consumers or travel consultants. As a result touring as a sector has underperformed in growth terms and there is a fear that the sector will suffer long term decline.

In response to discussions with a number of retail consortiums and various tour operators CATO is launching a campaign to bring the touring sector together.

It is important to note that this is not limited to European touring – the touring sector covers all organised touring in all regions of the world.

The aims of this campaign will be:

1. To fill the data gap: currently no accurate data exists as to the size of the group touring market and the market share of any of the companies within it.
2. To develop a common message: to update the image of touring so that it matches the reality of today’s touring experience
3. To engage travel consultants: through education of product diversity, matching the right client with the right tour and the financial benefits of selling tours
4. To engage the travelling public: by communicating the benefits of touring in today’s environment

We are still in the initial stages of this this process however the following initiatives/activities have been identified to kick start the campaign:

CATO will engage an independent external research company to collect passenger number data from group tour operators. This will involve passenger numbers per region per month so that we can measure the overall size of the market and see year on year trends.

The highest confidentiality protocols will be in place so that neither CATO nor any individual company will be able to identify individual company figures. By comparing your own figures to the grouped data you will be able to calculate your market share per destination.

Cruising has successfully used this data to promote the growth of their sector in the trade and consumer press. CATO will do the same for touring.

A PR/marketing company will be engaged to develop common messages on the benefits of touring for both the travel consultants and the end consumers. These messages and longer copy will be used in trade and consumer press liftouts and will be available to all sector participants to use in their marketing messages.

CATO will work together with the trade press and the various retail consortiums to promote the group touring sector and engage travel consultants.

The Travel Daily Group have committed to the following activities:

· Touring Guide: March 2017. This will be similar to the Airline Guide currently published on an annual basis. The guide will be a training tool for travel consultants allowing them to easily compare touring companies and to correctly match the right type of client with the right tour.

· Land Conference: late March 2017. This one day conference for travel consultants will focus on all land suppliers including tour operators, FIT wholesalers, tourism office and rail operators. High profile guest speakers, master classes and an expo will ensure high levels of consultant education and engagement

Initial discussions have been had with consumer travel press and touring lift outs are planned for 2017 similar to the cruising advertising lift outs and features currently being run in the weekend travel sections.

The Next Steps

This initial email is being sent out to all CATO members. Further details and proposals for participation in the Touring Guide and Data Collection will be sent only to those members who have identified themselves as selling Group Tours and/or Coach Tours on their CATO website profile. If you are an FIT operator also doing coach touring and you have not got it listed on your CATO profile please let Peter Baily know as soon as possible.

The proposal for the Land Conference and Touring Guide will be sent to all members by Travel Daily in the coming weeks.

CATO operates on a low cost base so all activities will be based on user-pay. Further details will be provided as we receive detailed proposals from suppliers.

This touring sector initiative is one of a number of initiatives that CATO is currently working on for the benefits of members. Our overall aim is to provide value to all members and grow the profile and professionalism of the land supply side of the Australian travel industry.

We look forward to working with you on this.

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