Keeping ahead of consumers and their changing tastes and desires

Expert individuals making an ever-changing jigsaw

Keeping ahead of consumers and their changing tastes and desires

I thought that it would be an idea to reflect as much upon the individuals in the group tourism and travel sector, as about the products they work on and the customers they seek to attract and support.

Our Expert View column, has now profiled well over 50 such individuals who have brought their enthusiasm and dedication to the specialist area of the tourism and leisure sector that is group travel.

Sometimes that is the sole element of their job, and sometimes it is part of a wider travel trade role or even combines with things like conferences and events or product development and marketing.

This month’s subject, Ellen Walker, explains, like many experts before her, how she kind of ended up in group travel by chance, and has since become a really knowledgeable and professional specialist in her field. Ellen and others like her are a delight to talk to because they have really valuable insights to contribute to the wider development of travel and tourism, and responding to the changing nature of group activity.

One of the things that strikes me is how such a specialist community of people pursuing their individual business or professional endeavours can, nonetheless, work together for mutual benefit and share both thinking and often specific commercial initiatives in partnership with others.

Apart from a few highly dominant tourism and travel providers who may believe their product can answer every customer’s needs and stand alone in the marketplace, the vast majority of people in the sector appreciate that their element is part of a wider mix of activity that buyers will combine in different ways to meet their requirements.

The cover of issue 283 of GTO Magazine quite nicely encapsulates this point.

London’s offer comprises the mix of iconic time-honoured features like the Tower of London, St Pauls Cathedral and Buckingham Palace standing alongside major new attractions like The Shard and London Eye and the shortly to open Body Worlds at the London Pavilion, plus an ever changing entertainment offer in the West End and elsewhere.

Quirky new elements are coming forward all the time like the Postal Museum’s newly opened underground railway and even what we might call the Fatberg story!

Are these visit options in competition?

The answer is, to some extent, obviously yes, but not directly so. Could they exist in isolation? Not really – as a day out or stay in London will surely involve a combination of them all and of many other visit offers.

How individuals, and groups in particular, construct their days in London – or indeed in other cities and destination areas – is in many ways what the science of tourism and leisure is all about, and it means keeping ahead of consumers and their changing tastes and desires, and that’s a continuing challenge.

It’s an obvious core role for tour operators and itinerary planners, but it’s equally important for all individual attractions to be aware of and ready for partnership and collaborative thinking and working to reflect new market opportunities.

This dimension will form part of our forthcoming Imaginarium discussion being held next month to mark the 30th anniversary of GTO Magazine and Landor Travel Publications, alongside more specific futurology about changes to the nature of travel and leisure experiences through technology and more interactive and experiential visitor offers.

I do hope to see many of our group specialist tourism and travel trade friends from within the GTBF and beyond at the event in London next month, which is open to everyone in the group sector.

This article was originally published in issue 283 (September / October 2018) of GTO magazine.