“But there is something about
being able to hug one another, hit the dancefloor
together, and actually reach across the dinner table
and touch someone;
that simply cannot be substituted.”
We all know that 2020 has been a doozie. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the word “unprecedented” and “uncertain” used as much as they have been these last few months. As a nearly 20 year veteran of the travel industry, not a day goes by that I don’t get the question, “Is travel just completely dead?” And it’s an interesting question, because, for some companies, it certainly looks like death, but transformation and death often look a lot alike. Our industry is undergoing an intense metamorphosis, and, while it seemed touch and go for a while, these last few months have taught me one thing is for certain. We will eventually emerge from the cocoon of Corona and the travel industry is going to see a surge. In fact, some sectors are already traveling or preparing to travel and “Tribe Travel” certainly seems to be the tip of the spear, so to speak. As a company that deals solely in group travel we have are among the rare few in our industry who have seen resounding loyalty and the desire to press forward among our group leaders. As a reader, at this point, you are probably astounded, and wondering why this phenomena is occurring.
As humans, we are pack animals. We crave connection and nothing in history has disrupted our ability to connect more than the Corona Pandemic. Of course, we are doing the best we can virtually. I’m sure every reader out there has had or attended at least three zoom birthday parties, heck, here at Top Tier Travel, we even created a virtual cocktail hour company – Quarantine Cocktail Hour- to help people put on virtual connections with “live” music and a bartender. But there is something about being able to hug one another, hit the dancefloor together, and actually reach across the dinner table and touch someone; that simply cannot be substituted. This need goes so deep that even with COVID cases on the rise, we have begun to see people venturing out in ways that still feel safe expanding their “quarantine pods” to include a few others, or, in the case of several of our clients, continuing to travel with their “Tribe” in a modified manner. For example, we just had a leadership conference with 180 people travel to Puerto Vallarta. That probably sounds crazy to some, but there are many reasons we are still seeing some of the “Tribes” we service traveling.
Tribe Travel is all about traveling with a group of people who are closely bonded together such as, family groups, mastermind/personal development/retreat groups, network marketing groups and travel clubs. Most of these groups have been having quarterly or annual get-togethers for years. The groups are tight knit and may only add a few new members each year. For these tribes, getting together has become tradition and an integral part of their mental and emotional wellbeing. Because these groups have such a steeped history together, there is a trust factor allowing members of the group to feel that they can openly discuss measures to keep everyone safe. Members of the group will follow and respect those measures based on the deep foundation of respect
and love they have for one another. We have found that the majority of these groups are actively planning their next get-together. Some are traveling now, while others have come to a consensus and will travel in 2021. The interesting fact is that, 100% of our Tribe Travel groups are planning something, even if it is in the future.
Of course, we wouldn’t call these “unprecedented” times if the travel of these groups didn’t look a little different than before. We are finding that it is crucial to communicate with group leaders and destinations regarding the flexibility of cancellation terms daily. We, and most providers, have implemented cancellation policies that allow cancellation within seven (or fewer days
in some destinations) of travel and our staff travels to most destinations ahead of the group to provide an in-depth report
on current sanitation conditions at the hotel. There are many modifications to group gatherings such as buffets have been all
but outlawed throughout the US, Mexico and the Caribbean, and have been replaced with socially distanced banquet seating
and plated dinners (at no extra cost in most destinations), and many hotels have implemented contactless check-in or limited
contact check-in. Groups arrive to find hotel lobbies plastered with hand sanitizer stations and plexi glass partitions between
themselves and staff. Some of the most sanitary hotels and pro-active destinations we have found might surprise you- The
Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans and Hard Rock Vallarta are among two of the best locations both from a sanitization and COVID protocol perspective that we have worked with in the last few months.
If the “Time of Corona” has taught us nothing else, it has shown us the resiliency of the human spirit and our desire to will be a slow re-emergence and we encourage you to hold into be together in what ever ways we can manage. We know it your dreams of traveling and being with your tribe again and when you feel comfortable, the world will still be out there waiting for you to explore.