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Treat These Groups Like Adults

If you work for a museum or other attraction, your groups department probably handles two main types of bookings: student groups and adult groups. And although both types of groups often arrive on buses, the needs of students and adults can vary widely.

Unless you are in a popular student tour destination like New York or Washington, D.C., the student groups that visit your attraction likely come from schools located around your region. The students themselves, probably thrilled to get out of the classroom for a day, may care less about the particulars of your attraction and more about the fun they can have with their friends there. But adult groups represent a more discerning audience with more options at their disposal, and giving them engaging and memorable experiences can require more thought and planning.

Here are four keys to keep in mind when you’re marketing your attraction to adult groups.

Adult planners need more than just group rates.

Sure, everyone loves a discount, and offering a price break to groups of a certain size is a universal practice. But when group tour planners call, they want more than just a rate quote — they want your help in planning an experience that will be memorable for their travelers. Today, that means special treatment, interactive programs, behind-the-scenes tours and VIP access. So, make sure that you and your team have a menu of interesting and engaging options to offer. You can even charge more for some of these optional extras.

Adults need a variety of activities.

Students are accustomed to following the leader and going where they’re told, but adults value their autonomy, which means you can’t always count on their sticking with a docent tour. Although guided tours appeal to some travelers in a group, others will want to explore on their own and should have the freedom to do so. Adults have a variety of travel personalities and like having options when they travel, so don’t assume everyone in a group wants to experience your attraction in the same way. The more activities and approaches you offer, the better.

Adults love incentives.

Student groups eat when and where their teachers tell them to, but adults are choosier. If your attraction includes a restaurant, you can’t assume tour groups will take advantage of it. But you can increase the chances of that by offering some kind of incentive, directed at either the tour planner or the individual travelers in the group. Giving group travelers a coupon for a discount at the restaurant will make them more likely to eat there, and offering tour planners a price break or added benefits by scheduling a group meal at your attraction will help make your restaurant more attractive. You can drive more retail spending by offering similar incentives in your gift shop.

Adults appreciate convenience.

The older people get, the more likely they are to appreciate — and be willing to pay for — convenience. So, the more convenient you can make a group visit to your attraction, the better. That means eliminating hassles that come with parking and waiting in lines, etc. You can also win a lot of favor with travel planners by offering conveniently packaged tour options that combine elements of what your attraction offers. If you work well with other tourism organizations in your destination, you can take this one step further by putting together packages with other attractions, and even hotels and restaurants. This will make it easy for group planners to arrange a sizable portion of their trip in one or two phone calls.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.