An Expert View with…

Gabrielle AlamGABRIELLE ALAM

DIRECTOR, EYES2MARKET, EUROPE

How do you engage with the group travel sector?

I’ve had 20 years experience in tourism marketing and development including destination branding, trade and consumer marketing, offline and commercial solutions. I established my own company Eyes2market Europe in 2000 to bring passion and professionalism to travel niche travel marketing, including groups.

How do you define the group travel market?

Most commercial entities like hotels, coach companies or cruise ships define 10 people or more arriving and departing together as a group. An important, but not exclusive element, is the seniors market, and others we call “group travel organisers”, but all travel sectors, across the whole of the travelling public have group travel and it can include individuals who buy into a group or any private group where members know each other before the trip. There are special interest groups too, including sports, music, events and occasions such as weddings and festivals.

What trends do you think are important?

One of the most interesting things to think about is how travel and leisure patterns change with each generation. We’ve moved from people who were brought up to work with strict rules and strict authority – the senior citizens or veteran generation -to subsequent generations that are quite different in their approaches. The baby boomers have a much more individual approach, they are free spirited and aspirational. There’s another generation following them into adult hood who are yet to be major group travel consumers, as they are probably now bringing up families, which is not a strong group travel period.

So you think that baby boomers are an important sector for suppliers?

Yes I do. There are some clear pointers and some misconceptions about the Boomer generation. Moving forward and retired now, they have time on their hands, they think they are younger than they are, they control most of the wealth and spend a lot of time online, using social networks, very purposefully, rather than just for chatter and gossip, and so they are not technological luddites.

What product and service developments can you suggest?

Boomers seek experiences. They might not like standing around listening to a tour guide, but will enjoy using a mobile with a clever geo-coded app that explains about the attraction, and think about connecting to their groups through hobby-related activities. If I may recite as an example a river cruise product, of a client. Croisieurope’s recent introduction of all-inclusive cruising, and hiking Cruises are a good example of adjusting product to this new generation. In essence, for tourism suppliers and marketers, it all means adjusting  products and services currently aimed at the comfort traveller, and re-writing marketing messages to appeal to the comfort adventurer!

Specialising in niche travel and tourism marketing, employing 30 staff with offices in London, Paris and Hamburg. Eyes2market’s clients include Croisieurope River Cruises, Grenada Board of Tourism, Chateaux et Hotels Collection, Tahiti Tourism and Bermuda Tourism.