That there is a feeling of uncertainty in the travel industry heading into 2017 is of little surprise. This past year the industry was mired in it, from uncertainty about the fallout of the Brexit vote to questions about how long the negative impact of terror events in Europe would linger.
Tour operators attending the annual U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) conference earlier this month said they remain optimistic as we turn the corner into 2017, and that bookings are looking on the up and up. But following an unprecedented U.S. presidential election and embracing the "new normal" that we never know what news we will wake up to each morning, whether there will be another attack somewhere or some other catastrophic event, that feeling of uncertainty remained in the air at the USTOA confab.
Tour operators, however, specifically escorted tour operators, have a unique marketing chip when it comes to combatting travelers' fears and concerns amid all this uncertainty: their ability to offer them a greater sense of security. Group travel is in fact all about that greater sense of security, traveling in a pack, having a team leader to rely on and a large company backing the trip that will, hopefully, help you out if plans change. The challenge is that promoting that benefit can in and of itself make travelers more aware of the dangers and threats that lurk out in the world.
"I'm asked almost daily now about safety and security," Phil Cappelli, president of Insight Vacations, said earlier this fall. "I don't shy away from it. I talk about working with a company like Insight that has 100 years expertise operating tours."
Indeed, while shouting from the rooftops, "Take a tour. You will feel safer!" may seem like drawing attention to the very thing that is making travelers nervous, perhaps there is no point in ignoring the elephant in the room. Instead, tour operators are taking this opportunity to communicate to travel sellers and their clients that safety and security are among the reasons travelers should consider, perhaps now more so than ever, taking a packaged tour.