What can today’s bachelorette parties tell us about the prospects for tomorrow’s group travel industry?
A recent article in The Hustle, an online business and technology publication from sales software company HubSpot, details the business of bachelorette party buses. It says that in Nashville, a longtime tourism town that has recently become one of the the country’s leading bachelorette destinations, party bus operators charge $400-$600 per hour to take groups of up to 25 on two-hour tours of the city.
According to the article, these coaches have been modified to create open-air upper decks with music and disco lights for dancing. They are driven by professional coach operators and governed by the normal regulations of the party bus industry. The onboard celebrations are BYOB, but professional bartenders on board each bus make sure drinks are served responsibly.
“We saw a trend where these girls were going out; they wanted to dance; they wanted to see Nashville; they wanted to be with their friends, but they didn’t want to be stuck inside a bar,” one bachelorette bus company owner told The Hustle. That company operates 12 buses in Nashville and can gross as much as $150,000 per weekend. Similar companies are operating in Austin, Texas, another up-and-coming bachelorette destination. And more are coming soon in other cities, too.
Of course, a bachelorette party on wheels is different from a traditional group tour in many ways. And the demographic patronizing the party bus is likely very different than the kinds of people who frequently come on your trips. But I believe the emergence of the bachelorette party bus is a very good sign for the future of group travel.
On a basic level, bachelorette party organizers have the same goals as group travel leaders. They want to enjoy a good time with their friends. They want to explore an exciting destination. And they want a safe, hassle-free way to do so.
That’s good news for our industry, because it proves the fundamental value proposition of group travel isn’t restricted to the traditional tour bus clientele. People of any age can and do enjoy traveling together. And they’re happy to pay someone else to organize the trips for them.
I’ve been spending a lot of time this fall talking to people outside the legacy tour industry who are discovering the benefits of group travel. Those conversations have been incredibly refreshing, and they make me incredibly optimistic about the future of tourism. From social media influencers to university groups, bourbon enthusiasts, sports fans and, yes, bachelorettes, there’s a wide world of people out there who are eager to travel together.
Today’s bachelorette groups can be tomorrow’s tour groups. They already understand the appeal of group travel, and they have already demonstrated a willingness to pay for facilitated travel experiences. This makes them ideal targets for tour companies that can figure out how to craft products — and marketing messages — that will appeal to them across different seasons of life.
This and other segments of the nontraditional tour industry are worth learning about. Because even if you don’t plan to be on a bachelorette bus anytime soon, your future customers just might board one this weekend.