Specialising is the first step on the road to success, says Paul Melinis, managing director, UK & Europe of APT

I have been lucky enough to work in the touring sector for 18 years and in that relatively short time I’ve witnessed an impressive transformation.

Touring is a fantastic holiday choice, especially if your clients want to enjoy real heritage, culture, history, food and authentic local experiences.

People who choose an escorted touring holiday will generally have similar values and share common interests. The category itself acts as a highly-tuned selector of like‑minded people. Rich and meaningful lifelong friendships are made through meeting others on tour because of the communality. You can’t say that about many other holidays.

At APT, we find guests are often amazed by the exclusive experiences and how much is included in the price.
For agents, escorting touring is a gold mine of opportunity and all it takes is a bit of product knowledge and the confidence to challenge those who say it’s not for them.

Boom market

The majority of people who take tours are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). They, quite rightly, refuse to let go of their youth. They seek to share authentic experiences, nostalgia and convenience, but also expect great customer service.

Boomers today hold nearly 80% of the UK’s wealth, while by 2025 those aged 65-plus will make up 20% of the population. This should make them the number-one target audience for any agent. Most want to travel in style and like the finer things in life. They don’t buy on price, but they still want value.

Authentic local experiences are standout sightseeing inclusions on APT tours, and sought-after highlights for your clients. We’ve made it our mission to ensure every tour features at least one. From a Maori hangi feast in New Zealand to a First Nations dinner in Canada, it is possible to travel in a group but experience something that impacts you on a personal level.

Freedom and flexibility

One of the main objections to touring is that guests say they want to have their holiday on their own terms. But many tours, including APT’s Freedom of Choice options, offer flexibility, so if someone wants to sit by a pool or on the beach for the day – or they want to soar over a national park in a helicopter – it’s their choice. Freedom and flexibility is at the heart of what we do.

Knowledge is power

Selecting the right company for the right client is essential. Each company offers something different. As vice-chairman of the Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers (Atas), I’d encourage agents to log on and learn, as knowledge is power and the key to being an escorted touring expert.

Watch out for 2018 Atas roadshows, where you can come and learn more about each escorted touring operator. If you want to be successful, keep your eyes on the escorted touring prize – specialising and being a touring expert is a perfect start on the road to success.

More: New Atas website – touringandadventure.com