Globus on Friday wrapped up its first tour since March, leading a group of 26 guests across the Southwest in what Globus family of brands chief marketing officer Steve Born characterized as a "victory tour for travel."
"We're glad to be out in America," Born said in a phone interview from the Grand Canyon, the group's last stop on the company's America's Canyonland Escape Tour before heading back to Las Vegas to catch flights home on Saturday.
Born said the company was happy with its first test of its new health and safety protocols and pleasantly surprised by the level of cooperation among guests for wearing masks, social distancing and occasional temperature checks.
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One of the biggest surprises, he said, "was the guests themselves and their spirit. It really felt like this trip for them was more than just a vacation, it was almost like a crusade."
Another surprise, Born said, was the spirit of camaraderie.
"It felt right away like they were committed to not only just traveling again and getting out there again, but doing it the right way," he said. "And they found it pretty easy, I think, to become comfortable, [and the protocols] didn't seem to compromise the idea that they were on vacation.
"There seemed to be a real common resolve and commitment from the group that they were going to be diligent about the protocols and keep everyone safe," Born said.
The guests came from all over the country, and most were people who were forced to cancel international trips this year due to the pandemic.
"These weren't rookies to escorted travel," Born said. "They were just very eager to get out."
One bonus, he said, for the early adopters of post-pandemic touring: During six days and 1,000 miles of travel through national parks in Utah and Arizona, they never encountered another group or coach.
With the trip, Globus joined Collette and Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) as the first guided travel companies to resume operations. Collete and A&K resumed domestic operations this summer, and both have reported similar success. A&K has also resumed some international operations.
Born said the company will run two more domestic trips this year and that it hopes to begin international operations early next year as more countries open up.
Among the first likely international destinations, he said, are Costa Rica and Ecuador.
Collette, too, said this week that it was preparing to resume operations in Costa Rica.
"We have begun coordination with our partners in destination to ensure that our standards can be met in relation to wellness and overall customer experience," Collette spokeswoman Amelia Sugerman said. "In the coming weeks, we will communicate to agents and guests on our intentions for restarting operations in Costa Rica."