Solo trips and UK coach departures have been the most-searched-for holidays in the touring and adventure market this year, new data revealed.
TourHound, an aggregator that generates leads for more than 50 specialist operators in the sector, shared its search data for the first three months of the year with Travel Weekly.
In January, ‘singles’ trips were the most-searched-for type of product on the platform, accounting for 30% of enquiries but dropped to second place in February and March, when they accounted for 21% and 24% respectively.
UK coach departures were second in January, accounting for nearly 30% of searches, rising to top spot in February and March, with 41% and 36%.
Adventure, youth and cultural touring holidays shared third, fourth and fifth spots each month but never individually accounted for more than 5% of searches.
TourHound offers a white-label product for agencies to source tours and adventure holidays.
Laurence Hicks (pictured), TourHound managing director, said: “[Coach operator] Shearings is showing strong demand for UK coach tours, and coaches are large and comfy with WiFi and air-conditioning,” said Hicks.
Shearings introduced free entertainment system Roadshows, which allows passengers to play its collection of films and TV shows on their own devices, on all branded coaches in March.
Hicks added that the recent acquisition of singles specialist Solos Holidays by private equity investor Stone Ventures demonstrated the strong interest in the solo travel market.
“And it’s not just for single people,” he said.
“Clients can be part of a couple and just one wants to do something different.”
Hicks added that touring is “not just for young people”, adding that G Adventures “says that its average traveller is 50 to 65” which he puts down to people being “fitter” and wanting a “belated gap year”.
Scenic, rail, small group and cruise consistently featured in the next rung of search terms, while safari, food and music were nearer the bottom of the top-20 search lists.
Hicks said the key to the sector’s success is the growing appetite for holidays where everything is laid on.
“People might not be sure about escorted tours beforehand but afterwards they think they’re fabulous,” he added, noting that growth in the 50+ market is also driving sales.
Aggregator’s data show the UK and short-haul lead the way
TourHound’s search data shows how holidays in the UK and Europe dominate the market, followed by the US and Canada.
The UK topped search results across January, February and March, peaking at 12% of touring inquiries, while England featured separately in the top three and Scotland in the top 10 each month.
Italy was in the top four every month, peaking at second place in January when it accounted for 8% of searches.
Switzerland and Spain were other popular European touring destinations.
The US hovered between fifth and sixth place and Canada between sixth and eighth in the monthly lists of most-searched-for destinations.
“Staycations are being booked in addition to overseas holidays – and there is a genuine interest in the UK,” said Hicks.
Southern hemisphere destinations appear further down the league table but still within the top 20, and Asian destinations such as Japan and Thailand are also becoming more popular.
“The UK, North America and Europe are volume destinations. Other long-haul destinations command smaller volumes but are nevertheless very lucrative by comparison,” he said.
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