SALEM, Ohio — One travel organization is counting on a big return to group travel once COVID-19 runs its course. The Group Travel Family, the nation’s leading organization serving group travel planners, has spent the past nine months building its membership numbers.
“We are bullish on the future of group travel and made it a focus to widen our outreach to new group travel planners,” said Jennifer Ferguson, general manager of The Group Travel Family. That effort has paid off to the tune of over 4,400 new travel planners. “We estimate there are between 50,000 and 75,000 qualified people in North America who lead travel for groups, clubs, organizations and friends/family,” she said.
The addition has built the total group travel planner database to over 25,000 at The Group Travel Family. When COVID-19 took its toll on travel, The Group Travel Family decided to look to the future and invest in finding new travel groups.
“We have a great staff, and everyone focused on identifying new travel groups that we could help develop into supergroups,” said Charlie Presley of The Group Travel Family.
Many of the travel groups that have been discovered are unaware of their importance to the travel industry and report they had no idea about an organization like The Group Travel Family to give them the tools necessary in development and growth.
“Most people who have a following of travelers have done so as a labor of love and not as a business,” Presley said.
Though these group travel planners might think of themselves as islands, they represent a tidal wave of tourism. According to Ferguson, the newly added travel groups represent $300 million of travel annually. And they go largely unnoticed by most travel industry experts.
Because they are simply community and family-focused individuals and not full-fledged businesses, these travel planners are difficult to track using traditional industry methods. Presley explained that when volunteer leaders tell their followers about a planned long weekend trip, 30 people sign on. The result is a tourism expenditure of about $25,000.
“Take that by 50,000 volunteer group travel planners doing that three or four times a year and you get into billions of dollars generated to destinations, hotels, airlines, cruise ships and the entire travel industry,” said Ferguson.
“We have had a great time showing people how to have better trips, bigger groups and happier group leaders,” Presley said. “COVID-19 will make group travel stronger because people like traveling together.”
If you know someone who leads group travel, ask them to call The Group Travel Family at 800-628-0992 or to visit