s we get older," the older man said,
with just a touch of self-conscious grouchiness, "we get grouchy.
We get impatient and we get lazy. We're more demanding -- we think
we know how things should be. We're part of the 'do-it-for-me'
group of travelers."
The older man was Arthur Tauck, chairman of Tauck World
Discovery and keynote speaker at CruiseTour World 2003, which
wrapped up last week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Tauck was explaining the appeal of tours and cruises.
"Cruise lines and tour operators are both after the do-it-for-me
traveler -- the people who just want to pay once and have
everything taken care. And that market is by no means restricted to
With both the U.S. Tour Operators Association and the Cruise
Lines International Association as sponsors of the conference --
along with Travel Weekly and the Institute of Certified Travel
Agents -- there were plenty of speakers touting the benefits of
either cruises or tours, but Tauck was one of the few who defined
where the appeal of both overlaps. After 50 years in the business,
he knows a thing or two about the do-it-for-me traveler. He knows
that, once this traveler has plunked money down, he or she doesn't
want to have to worry about anything.
The problem for both the cruise and tour industries -and the
travel industry as a whole -- is that, at this point in time, all
travelers feel they've got plenty to worry about.
The speed with which worrisome things are coming at travelers
and travel professionals is astounding. A few weeks before the
conference, I had begun my preparations to moderate a panel on the
topic "Critical Issues Facing the Cruise Industry," and had drawn
up a list of questions to put to cruise executives. But looking at
it again before the start of the conference, I saw several
revisions needed to be made.
Questions about security and the health of the airline industry
needed to be changed to reflect new concerns. I had originally had
a question about the Norwalk virus -- the bug that now seems like
ancient history -- but nothing about SARS.
Tauck's definition of today's cruise and tour customer begs this
question: How does one get the grouchy, impatient, lazy and
demanding traveler out of the fetal position and into planes and
motorcoaches and onto ships?
The biggest clue to solve this mystery may be in Tauck's
categorization of cruise and tour travelers as the do-it-for-me
group. It may well be that do-it-for-me travelers today must now
have things done for them before the trip begins. The cycle for
them may well begin before they're handed over to the tour operator
or cruise line.
In the mood they're in today, the do-it-for-me travelers are not
even going to pick up the phone and call a travel agent. They won't
research the degree to which cruise lines have added security
measures, nor, for that matter, explore what incredible bargains
are out there right now.
The do-it-for-me group needs travel agents to do it for them.
Agents need to know these things, then pick up the phone and call
The irony is that in these tough economic times, it can be
cheaper to vacation than stay at home. And in these insecure times,
travelers will have more people looking after their well-being when
they're on a cruise or tour than when they're commuting to work
The do-it-for-me traveler needs to be told that traveling today
is more likely to relieve their stress than add to it. If that
message gets out successfully, much of the uncertainty they're
dealing with will not only go out of their life, but out of the
lives of travel suppliers and sellers, as well.