The Coach Touring Paradigm Shift

The common misconception of escorted (coach) tours is of exhausted vehicles, soul destroying journey times of 13 hours, cramped conditions with a  florally masked cigarette fragrance and an extremely grumpy driver. BEST (Better Escorted Tours) aims to change this misconception, by dissociating these attributes by revolutionising agents’ approach and understanding of the opportunities selling escorted tours has to offer to both customer and agent.

The BEST group was created as a result of some of the top escorted tour operators meeting, to achieve the same success as the cruise industry did in changing its perception, which had faced similar issues.

The BEST founders consist of: Caroline Brown, commercial director, Shearings Holidays; Tony Byrne, head of trade relations, Cosmos Tourama; Ashely Dellow, head of retail sales, Leger Holidays; Manuel Mascarenhas, managing director, Wendy Wu Tours; Paul Melinis, director of sales, Insight Vacations & Trafalgar Tours; Peter Traynor, general manager, Collette Worldwide Holidays; Colin Wilson, head of sales, Page & Moy/Just you.

BEST’s Mission statement

To create a platform for agents to proactively sell and support the growing escorted holiday sector.

Key aims:

1. To raise the profile of this growing sector among the retail community

2. To help change agents’ perception of the sector

3. To help the travel trade understand touring’s commercial opportunities

BEST are working towards their mission statement by facilitating agent training applicable to the whole tour sector, rather than the individual operator; cultivating relationships between BEST, consortium and retail giants; pushing for retail giants to support the tour sector and playing bigger roles at conferences.

Melinis confirmed that the stigma attached to ‘coach’ and ‘escorted tours’ is definitely something which exists:

”Agents and consumers remember cramming themselves onto a rickety old uncomfortable coach and that is what they think of when they hear ‘escorted tour’ – it couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “But 10 years ago cruise wasn’t sexy and agents thought it was all blue rinse and black tie. With BEST we can hopefully, be as successful in shifting opinion.”

A few misconceptions…

  1. The average time spent on the coach is 10-12 hoursit is less than 3 hours!!
  2. Holidaymakers have to pack and unpack every night-  This is not true! Escorted tours are centred holidays which include excursions to explore the destination.
  3. The coach is old, rickety and uncomfortable. As technology has developed over time, so have coaches. Standard coaches are comfortable, usually with air conditioning, roomy, toilet on board (not usually on smaller or feeder coaches). There is even an option of upgrading to luxury travel.
    So the idea of an old, rickety, uncomfortable coach…doesn’t have to be your experience.

Remember readers, escorted tours are no longer like the school trips you went on!!!! Neither are you stuck on a coach for the majority of a touring holiday!

Just have a look at our site (www.coachholidays.com) at the variety of escorted tours offered…tours exploring Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Happy touring! : )

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