Making National Park Vacations Easy

Travel agents are great partners when it comes to planning national park vacations By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West

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To read about family travel in our national parks, click here.

This issue’s cover story, “Find Your Park,” focuses on family vacations to our national parks. While it’s inspiring to know that our predecessors had the vision to preserve these lands for future generations to enjoy, it’s depressing to think that our current leadership could never replicate this effort. Our governing has clearly slid backward over the last 100 years.

However, the national parks have survived, and they certainly are beloved by travelers everywhere. As the story mentions, 70 percent of millennials plan to visit a national park in the next two years, and that number is surely similar for other demographics. While lack of interest is not a concern for travel agents looking to focus on these trips, perhaps the bigger challenge is getting clients to realize that agents don’t just sell international vacations and are still valuable when arranging trips closer to home.

Anyone who has tried to plan a national park vacation knows how many hours are spent researching destinations, trying to get reliable park information, arranging accommodations and more. The fact is that a family trip to a national park can be a complicated and tiresome endeavor. Travel agents are a welcome resource for alleviating that stress.

Also, as the story points out, using a tour operator can greatly enhance these vacations. With better park access, one-stop travel planning, unique activities that often can’t be arranged independently and up-to-the-minute status updates on various parks, the benefits of using an established operator far exceeds any cost difference.

Again, one of the main challenges in getting more clients to book with a tour operator for a national park vacation is simply getting them to open their minds to that option to begin with. Many travelers will consider a tour company for an overseas trip and not even be aware that the same company provides similar services for domestic vacations, as well. This is where an enterprising agent can really educate their customers and impress them with an option they may not have known existed.

Next year, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday, a milestone that will surely be featured in a variety of media outlets. Use that momentum to your advantage, and remind your clients that the easiest way to enjoy the best this country has to offer is with the help of a travel professional.