The social side of an escorted trip is what makes it, says Titan Travel head of trade sales Edwina Coppock

An escorted tour is a great way to travel for many reasons – they’re hassle-free, they’re expertly designed and they allow customers to experience the very best of a destination. But one element which doesn’t often get a mention is the human aspect.

This type of holiday is all about connections, whether that’s with the agent who finds and books the ideal itinerary, fellow travellers, the tour manager, or the local people customers meet out in their destination. It’s what helped to make Titan so successful when it first started 40 years ago – and it’s still relevant today.

The personal touch

It all starts with that first contact, and that’s where agents play such an important role. There’s only so much you can glean from a website; sometimes people just want a chat. It’s a chance to air ideas, to ask for recommendations, to find out the finer details of a holiday.

Escorted tours aren’t cheap and there’s a lot to consider when choosing an itinerary and a company to travel with. Agents have a wealth of knowledge ready to share – a customer can learn more in a single consultation with an experienced agent than they could from days of research online.

Of course, our own travel advisors are just a phone call away for those extra queries or complex bookings. As the leading specialist in escorted touring, we’re well placed to offer that extra level of expertise. It might be details of regional flights available, more information on excursions or optional extras, or just a bit of reassurance on the suitability of the tour.

While customers are away, they’ll have their tour manager with them throughout, so they’ve got that personal point of contact for any questions, no matter how small. Many of our loyal customers have told us that they choose their next holiday based on where their favourite tour manager will be going!

The rise in multi-generational travel

Interestingly, we’ve recently seen a significant increase in the number of multi-generational bookings, such as grown-up children joining their parents on a river cruise and single parents taking children in their late teens or early 20s away for a stress-free adventure.

Escorted tours might not be the first type of holiday you’d think about when booking this type of customer. But when you think about it, it’s an ideal opportunity – tours are mostly suitable for all ages (and we give ours a ‘pace’ rating so that customers can be sure it’s OK from an ability perspective) and they allow families to spend quality time together while exploring some fantastic parts of the world.

Shared experiences

The social side of an escorted trip is what makes it – and it’s something I feel should be used more in selling this type of holiday. We can offer some amazing experiences on our tours, but what makes those experiences so special is the fact that they’re shared. Even after the moment has passed, customers will be reliving it with each other, comparing photos and swapping stories.

For solo travellers, having this ready-made group of travel companions is a real benefit of escorted touring. In fact, our research has shown that the group aspect is often the key deciding factor when it comes to choosing a holiday.

Tours also offer the opportunity to meet and interact with local people – and this is something we’ve been incorporating more into our itineraries over the past few years. Our small-group tours in particular are great for these types of experience, offering the chance to join an Ethiopian family for coffee or enjoy a cooking demo and lunch at a local’s home in Vietnam.

This element of ‘connection’ is something that I believe will become increasingly important for the escorted holiday industry over the coming years. Having the right product – and the right people – will ensure brands are well placed to meet the demand for a more personalised booking and travelling experience.