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What Does Small Group Travel Really Offer?

Small, specialized group tours—such as tours in the adventure tourism, ecotourism, ethnotourism and other niches—are a quickly emerging market. Travelers are searching for group experiences that are more sustainable, social, affordable and fundamentally transformative. Small group tours in this market offer several benefits for the traveler and the community he or she visits.

1. Personalized Experience
A group with fewer travelers spends less time checking into hotels and transportation. Less time spent on routine procedures means more time spent on activities and attractions. Additionally, smaller groups have access to areas that are often restricted to larger groups—a perk that allows individuals to immerse themselves into a destination.

2. Smaller Footprints
Small groups inherently limit the pollution, damage to flora and fauna, and other ecological impacts. Small groups are also better suited to foster goodwill with locals and take care not to disrupt social dynamics. Group operators could offer some form of pre-tour education for travelers that encourages them to be conscious of the impacts and impressions they leave on the local people and environment.

3. Greater Impact
Small groups might leave smaller ecological and social footprints, but they also have the potential to leave a great impact on local communities. Small group travel makes it easier to spend money at locally-owned restaurants and accommodations, which makes tourism a great tool to empower communities.

4. Foster a Connected World
"Imagine with me, if the one billion people who travel internationally every year travel like this: Not being taken in the bus from one side to another, from one hotel to another, taking pictures from the windows of the buses of their people and cultures, but actually connecting with people," said Aziz Abu Sarah, founder Mejdi Tours, in his TED Talk For more tolerance, we need more...tourism?

Travel has the power to break down psychological and social barriers, and small groups are better suited to interact with residents of local communities.

Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.

Photo courtesy of Intrepid Travel.


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