By Brian Jewell
There was a time when group travel was a relatively simple proposition: Gather a bunch of people, ride them around on a bus for a while, feed them and show them some neat sights. As long as nothing went wrong, they would all be relatively happy.
Now in the 21st century, those days of easy group travel are long gone. In our modern world of instant gratification and widespread customization, one-size-fits-all tours are a relic of a previous age. The new generation of baby boomers and younger travelers expect to be personally entertained and catered to throughout the course of a tour. They want experiences tailored to their specific interests.
For years, “something for everyone” has been the mantra of group tourism — build itineraries with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and you can make sure that everyone gets to do something that they enjoy. But the problem with these tours is that they leave most of the people bored most of the time. Boredom is something that today’s travelers simply won’t tolerate. They don’t want “something for everyone.” Rather, they want “everything for me.”
To succeed in this new era, church travel planners must provide great travel experiences that will make people want to travel with them again. To do that, you have to figure out what people like and learn to deliver those experiences consistently.
Fortunately, that’s not as hard as it sounds. In my years of traveling with groups all around the world, I’ve found that many people have travel interests and tastes that line up into several distinct groups. I call these the Six Travel Personalities. Learn the travel personalities of your group travelers, and you can plan trips that captivate their interests.
For the Epicurean, travel is a sensory experience. Though everyone goes on trips to “see” things, Epicureans know that vision is only one of the five senses and want to travel with all of the rest as well. Touch, taste, sound and smell make the experience.
The Epicureans in your group are the people that love food and relish mealtime on a tour. For them, meals aren’t just a stop that you make to fuel up before heading out for more sightseeing — they are the foundation of a day on the road. Epicureans want to sample the local fare wherever they visit, and they value distinctive culinary experiences.
The Epicurean approach to travel goes far beyond food. Because sensory experiences are so important to them, Epicureans highly value the arts and will enjoy visits to museums and galleries on a tour, as well as concerts and special musical performances.
I happen to be very familiar with the Epicurean traveler, because I am one myself.