Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West
Not long ago, I was talking to an upscale hotelier and the topic turned to the fitness facilities at his hotels. He told me that until recently, a hotel gym was a relatively hassle-free amenity — once it was built and equipped, his staff really didn’t have to think about it, beyond minor maintenance and routine cleaning. Lately, however, that has changed. Today’s guests no longer want to know how many treadmills a hotel has; they want to know what fitness classes it offers, if there’s a morning yoga class and what running or hiking trails are nearby. Basically, they want to maintain, or better, their regular fitness routines while on vacation, and, as you can imagine, this makes life more complicated for the hotel staff.
This change is part of a much larger movement toward customizing a vacation to fit a traveler’s passions. Leaving home shouldn’t mean sacrificing whatever it is that gives a person joy in his or her everyday life. Whether they are happy lounging around watching their favorite shows on Netflix or working up a sweat in Pilates classes, travelers want to bring a piece of home with them on vacation — and hotels, as well as other travel suppliers, are responding to this need in a variety of ways.
This issue’s cover story, “Tripping On Two Wheels,” takes a look at cycling tours, which, more than ever, are one of the activities travelers are incorporating into their vacations. In fact, in its “Bicycle Tourism 2014” survey (the most recent survey available), the Adventure Travel Trade Association reported that nearly 60 percent of cycling tour operators expected a significant increase in business, and most cited “new customers” as the top reason for the growth.
Cycling is also an activity that often bridges the age gap, making it ideal for multigenerational trips. As you can read in the story, tour operators understand that their customers have varying levels of interest and experience with the sport, so they are careful to make sure a trip is the right fit. Travel agents can help with this by digging a little deeper to find out how much cycling their clients actually want on a vacation.
It’s all part of customizing and personalizing a client’s vacation. Travel agents can benefit their customers, as well as their businesses, by planning travel that incorporates a client’s passions — whether it’s cycling or some other activity — and then taking that interest to the next level.