Road & Rail

How to sell small group tours with Back Roads Manager

Ali Coulton

Coach tours tend to get a bad rep. They’re often perceived as “daggy” or unglamorous, but in reality they’re one of the best ways to indulge in some of the biggest travel trends around: adventure and experiential travel.

To get the low-down on some of the many benefits of small coach tours and find out how agents can best sell these intimate, immersive experiences to their clients, we spoke with Back-Roads Touring Country Manager for APAC, Dennis Basham.

Basham told us that the beauty of working for Back-Roads is that there’s no one doing things quite like them.

There’s a lot of small group operators who have groups of 25 – 30, we’re lucky enough to have the smallest at 15 – 18 people,” he told us.

“It’s also very much regional focused and leisurely paced so we’re taking things very slowly and really connecting with the locals and checking out the scenery”

“We’re not rushing from one country to the next where you’ve got to do an eight-hour drive in a day. If we’re on the coach for more than an hour, it’s quite unusual for us.”

Basham told us the top three benefits of small group touring are as follows:

It gets tight-knit

giphy

“For us, the biggest feedback we get is that it’s just a smaller group of 15 or 16, 17 people so you can get to know everybody on board,” Basham told us.

“There’s not a huge distance between the front of the coach and the back, its probably about four or five steps.  So you get to spend some time getting to know your fellow travellers and that’s important for us because about 30  per cent of our clients are solo travellers.” 

It’s flexible

tumblr_p4gzqzxBoM1vbcnq8o1_500

“The biggest benefit is that when you’re getting on and off the coach it doesn’t take 20 minutes because there are 50 people,” he said.

“If you want to stop and take a photo of something, or if you want to stop to go to the toilet, it’s much easier. It’s just the small things that you don’t really think about.”

“If 50 people are getting on and off then it’s quite a serious stop. Whereas for us, getting on and off it’s not a big drama. Everything from people wanting to take photos, going to the toilet, even a stop for lunch or something like that it’s not a big drama.”

Inclusivity: it means no worries

giphy (1)

“The all-inclusiveness is really what our clients are after,” Basham said.

“Our tours are around 60 per cent scheduled and you need to be at a certain place at a certain time. But about 40 per cent of the time is at your leisure or you’ve got a bit of free time.”

“The beauty of that is we spend two nights everywhere, the first night we’ll generally have a team dinner at a local restaurant and usually the second night you can experience your own thing and go a bit further afield and see if there’s anything else you want to explore.”

“What we find is most of our guest will dine together anyway on that second night, they’ll just go and find a local restaurant.”

“It’s a nice mix of being scheduled and unscheduled and we find they all hang out together all the time anyway so it’s quite a nice bonding situation.”

So how do you sell it?

Basham told us that over the last two or three years, travel agents are beginning to get on board and educate themselves about small group touring.

There’s still some confusion around understanding what product to match up with their clients,” he said. 

“There’s a big difference between a large coach operator and a small one, but there is a range of smaller ones as well.”

“We’re 15-18 people, there are some others that are 20-25 then there’s 30 up to 48-50 seaters. But I think agents are really starting to understand there is a coach operator for all types of clients.”

Budget is also something Basham thinks could be a big selling point.

“It can be confusing for agents because when they look at a price point they might think ‘oh that’s reasonably high’ but if you were to break it down and look at what the clients would have to be paying individually or even as a self-drive client, it’s significantly cheaper.”

“Giving [clients] the daily break down of what it costs to do a tour is where they’re going to win them over because it’s very affordable when you weight it up to paying everything individually yourself.”


Do you have something to say on this? Get in touch with Travel Weekly Editor Ali Coulton here to share your thoughts.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Aviation

British Airways suspends flights to Cairo

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has updated its travel advice to Egypt in line with this move by the UK airline.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Tourism

NTIA 2019 winners revealed!

Did you attend the NTIAs as a finalist but got so blind that you can’t remember if you won? All is revealed here.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Passenger cops $150,000 fine for “one of the most serious cases” of flight disruption

Turns out there are serious consequences for disruptive mid-flight behaviour, especially if it’s so bad that you prompt a military escort like this woman did.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Industry heavyweight urges stronger regulations for commercial Airbnb operators

It turns out around 50 per cent of Airbnbs are commercially run, as opposed to travellers renting out their space or uni students listing their cupboards for a quick buck.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Wholesaler wrap: Chimu Adventures milestone, AAT Kings deals extended + more!

It’s Monday, and Travel Weekly has just the thing to help you sober up from the NTIAs (and no, it’s not a Bloody Mary): a wholesaler wrap!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing dedicates more than $70 million to families for 737 MAX near-term relief

by Christian Fleetwood

Boeing expects to recognise an impact to earnings as a result of 737 MAX groundings when it releases its second-quarter results this week.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

STUDY: Aussie travellers among the most confused and inconsistent tippers

Ever arrived in a new country and realised you have no idea who you’re supposed to tip for what? Find a few handy tips and tricks for you and your clients right here.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Tourism

Travel DAZE early bird ticket deal ends Friday, with a further 15 per cent off all week!

We’ve taken the early bird ticket deal to the next level with a 15 per cent discount for this week only! You can thank us by sending chocolates and booze.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Airline apologises after Tweeting which seats are least likely to survive a crash

It’s something we’ve all thought about while mid-air, but do we really want to know which seats are most likely to survive a plane crash? Well, thanks to this airline, we now have an answer.

Share

CommentComments

Breaking News

Wholesalers

Wendy Wu comments on CEO departure

Much like Elvis, Joe Karbo, Wendy Wu Tours’ global CEO has officially left the building. Here’s what the lady herself had to say about it.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Flavour of the Week: Small Group Touring Co.’s new recruit, Linkd Tourism secures Port of Seattle + MORE!

Flavour of the Week induces two things on a Friday: nostalgia over Craig David and a succession of travel professionals falling asleep at their desks.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Airbnb’s giant ‘Wienermobile’ is sure to satisfy your hot-dog-loving clients

by Christian Fleetwood

In what is a quintessential Friday story, Travel Weekly has delivered this ‘franktastic’ and ‘blunderful’ news for all your hot-dog-loving clients.

Share

CommentComments