With travel back up and running, and a bumper Northern hemisphere summer on the horizon, small group operator Explore Worldwide shares its insights as to what changing travel habits and preferences they are seeing from their customers since 2019.
Ben Ittensohn, Global Sales Director at Explore, says: “Adventure travel has come back with such gusto this year. It’s been interesting digging further into these new bookings and finding patterns emerging in terms of destinations and types of trips, but also new trends in booking behaviours. The pandemic has certainly influenced the way customers’ holiday – more European destinations and walking holidays, to a greater percentage of solo travellers, and people booking closer to departure date.”
1. 60% of Explore’s bookings are now from solo travellers, with couples and small groups of friends making up the other 40%. Small group holidays are ideal for single travellers. The average size of 12 people means customers meet like-minded travellers, the group is small enough to meet locals and immerse in the experiences. The research, organisation and on-trip logistics are looked after and they’ll be accompanied by a local guide, who knows the destination inside out and can show them beyond the usual highlights.
Explore’s solo travellers aren’t just single people – often one person in a couple will enjoy walking or cycling more than a partner, or they just have different ideas of what their first post-Covid trip will be. While all of Explore’s small group trips are ideal for people travelling on their own, top choices for solos include Jordan Discovery, Costa Rica Wildlife Tour and Amalfi Coast Walking.
2. More people are travelling slowly and choosing rail. Travellers have shown greater interest in longer, more immersive holidays that avoid overtourism, explore at a more gentle pace and really immerse in a destination. New rail tours launched by Explore offer a more sustainable and authentic way to travel.
– The new London to Marrakesh by train tour recreates the romance of rail travel and the beauty of the journey seeing Europe transform into Africa in glorious technicolour as you travel slowly, overland, by rail.
– The new Fall colours from Montreal to Boston is a slow-paced two-week trip focusing on gentle walks in the National Parks, with a focus on authentic experiences like a French Canadian lunch at a traditional ‘sugar shack’, visiting the gorgeous Abbaye Saint Benoit monastery where the monks run a fromagerie, and joining a student-led tour of Harvard.
– In Asia, the slow-paced Thai Island Hopping tour involves catching an overnight train from Bangkok south and island hopping in the Andaman Sea travelling between islands on a ferry, with plenty of free time for relaxation or optional activities.
3. Walking holidays are up 55% allowing travellers to really get close to their destination on their own two feet. Easy graded walking holidays, and European walking holidays, are the fastest growers, but Explore has holidays for everyone – from gentle strolls in Italy to more strenuous hikes and even mountain summits.
4. Travellers are booking closer to departure. In the last four weeks, last minute bookings for this Northern Hemisphere summer are up 23% on the same period in 2019. There are still places available on selected tours from family adventures in Turkey and Sri Lanka to walking and cycling holidays in Europe, and classic tours in Botswana and Japan.
People have been waiting until closer to departure so Explore have reacted with a live availability page on the website: https://www.exploreworldwide.com.au/offers/last-minute-trips
5. Epic, ‘Bucket List’ adventures are growing in popularity. Epic trips to the Maldives (+50%), Kilimanjaro (+80%) and the Inca Trail (+47%), as well as safari holidays and polar voyages are on the rise. After two years of not travelling, missing celebrations and get-togethers, there’s a definite sense of ‘Carpe Diem’ amongst travellers, who are reluctant to wait any longer to tick off those dream holidays.
The Maldives is a top seller and a cruise on a traditional wooden dhoni is the slow way to experience this fabulous destination away from the crowds. Walking trips like the Inca Trail and Kilimanjaro are also on the rise, showing the desire to tick off these iconic achievements. For a special occasion, once-in-a-lifetime trip, the Realm of the Polar Bear in Depth voyage to the Arctic and Spitsbergen offers the best chance for seeing reindeer and polar bear.
For all Explore Worldwide trips visit: https://www.exploreworldwide.com.au/ or call the local Australian office on 1300 439 756.
SOURCE: Explore Worldwide