Guided independent travellers probably don’t realise they are one, says Lee Evanson, Costsaver sales manager, central UK

As I’m sure many agents would agree, the travelling habits, motivations and desires of British holidaymakers are forever shifting. This summer has been a case in point, with things like the amazing UK weather and World Cup success influencing short term booking trends. The needs of today’s traveller can vary from solo adventures to self-guided trips, fly and flop holidays and active tours, to name just a few. But a new style of travel that we are seeing emerge, especially for budget conscious clients, is guided independent travel.

Mixing the growth of the guided holiday sector with the global trend for more flexibility and customisation, we are welcoming a new generation of traveller that seeks expert guidance and a hassle free experience alongside more choice, plenty of free time and the best value – this is the guided independent traveller.

It’s for clients that are seeking the smart choice, not the cheap choice. They’re savvy, passionate travellers looking for the reassurance of a trusted operator that will take care of the fundamentals, but affords them the flexibility to really make their holiday their own, as well as control their spending.

It’s a ‘building block’ approach to touring which allows clients to have more freedom over the activities they do and the places they eat. They have the ability to tailor a trip their own way by choosing from a collection of enticing experiences, while the logistics, like securing central accommodation or navigating multi-country travels, are taken care of.

For agents, there is a huge opportunity to pair this kind of traveller with the right holiday or operator. With the operator having done most of the heavy lifting for you in terms of logistics, it will save you time rather than piecing together an FIT trip.

So what does a guided independent traveller look like? They probably don’t even realise they are one, but in many instances they may consider themselves more of a free-spirit, feeling that a more traditional escorted tour is more prescriptive than they have in mind, but they don’t want to have to think “where to next?” either in the planning stages, or on the holiday itself.

ATAS reported the adventure and touring sector grew by 13% year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2017, and this popularity remains strong today. Based on this demand for touring products and the consumer trend for more personalised experiences, we saw an opportunity to reposition our Costsaver brand, which offers a portfolio of value tours across Europe plus North, South and Central America and now Asia. We created a simple brand message for Costsaver, ‘Essentials by Us, Tailored by You’ to help agents understand the benefits of guided independent travel, and ultimately sell more tours to savvy independent travellers more quickly and easily.

So whether your client is a first time traveller or a seasoned adventurer, time-rich and cash-poor, or simply seeking the freedom of independent travel with the convenience of the essentials being taken care of, they could be your very first (or next) guided independent traveller.