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Travel Trend: Self-Guided & Private Tours

Last updated on February 3, 2021
5 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • The emerging trends of self-guided and private tours during the pandemic
  • What this means for tour operators and how to adapt

Skill Level

All Skill Levels

2020 threw us all more than a few curveballs, and along with changes we’ve made to life and work, new travel and tourism trends are on the rise. While fewer of us are planning to travel via plane or walk through a crowded attraction just yet, perhaps now more than ever people are seeking ways to explore the world and their local communities and have some fun – safely. Self-guided tours and private tours are an opportunity to provide all the fun of a traditional public tour without the stress of large groups of people or shared facilities. 

Safety in [small] numbers

There were already plenty of benefits to self-guided and private tours before the pandemic – such as flexible scheduling and a focus on your group’s interests – and those benefits remain. In fact, in a December 2019 report, Arival discussed private, small-group tours as a way to attract travelers who want to avoid large groups and get a more intimate experience. Today, these benefits are more important to travelers than ever before, and this is reflected in the rise in searches for private and self-guided tours.

Private Tours

“Private Tours” was already a popular search term early this year, and while searches dipped as the pandemic began (as did many tour-related searches), it’s on the rise again this summer as people try to find activities they can enjoy safely.

Google trends report for private tours

Self- Guided Tours

Search terms related to the topic of “Self-Guided Tours” have fluctuated throughout the year, which is not surprising as policies shift throughout the world. Recent announcements of funding for self-guided tour companies such as Questo and Secret City Trails have underscored the fact that this relatively new trend is poised to continue growing. 

Google trends report for self-guided tours

So, what does this mean for tour and activity operators?

If you don’t currently offer any private experiences, consider adding at least one to your offerings to attract travelers looking for activities to enjoy with friends and family. 

Pro tip: Private experiences generally come with a higher price tag, and that’s okay! Don’t shy away from setting your private tours at a higher price point – guests are willing to spend a bit more money for safety and peace-of-mind, and you shouldn’t undervalue your experience.

Providing self-guided tours is a more budget-friendly option that helps to attract customers looking to explore on their own but with guidance from experts. This could take the shape of guided audio tours, customized tour routes or itineraries, transportation rentals, and more. 

Pro tip: Whether you offer a self-guided tour, private experience, or a traditional in-person experience – increase the chance that someone will book with you by writing a tour description that sells!

We are creeping our way back to normal but until then adapting to growing trends like private and self-guided tours will allow businesses in our industry to not only survive but thrive. For more emerging trends, check out our industry insights guides and COVID-19 resources.

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