According to a recent AAA survey, 42 percent of Americans are planning to take a vacation this year, with most planning trips to warm-weather destinations in the United States and abroad. The same study listed experiential travel as one of today’s top trends, while Virtuoso revealed in a separate study that “active or adventure trips” and “beach resort stays” ranked first and second in a roundup of the top trends in family travel—so it’s really no surprise that travelers are increasingly thinking beyond the sun and sand when booking beach vacations.
The ongoing popularity of beach escapes, paired with the rise in demand for active or experience-based trips, means dramatic changes when it comes to how agents serve their beach-bound clients. According to Steve Jermanok, founder of Active Travels, part of Larjay Travel, in Newtown, Massachusetts, many travelers are looking for more than just time on the sand. “What’s happening now is that a beach is a relaxation component after more adventurous kinds of travel,” he says.
In Jermanok’s case, that can even include “beach and adventure” combinations in destinations as far flung as Zanzibar. “It’s pretty much all over the world,” he says. “Clients don’t seem to just want to stay on the beach the whole time any more. A lot of people want a more active, adventurous and authentic vacation. It depends on the individual of course, but more and more, we see the beach as just one component of a trip.”
The desire to go beyond the beach is good news for travel agents, according to Ethel Hansen Davy, a travel agent at Premiere Travel Group, a Uniglobe agency in Toronto. “It’s very lucrative to sell off-the-resort day excursions,” she says. “Now we can combine four days on-resort with a five-day excursion. The way we sell travel now, we can pull from all different kinds of suppliers and put it all together to meet the needs of our clients.”
Jermanok is also happy with the current trends. “To me, it’s much more exciting as a travel agent, because then I can design a package that’s much more multifaceted and diverse.”