Once you’re a coach traveller you’re hooked to stay a coach traveller – 92 per cent of existing coach travellers say they will continue to book coach tours over the next five years. Even people who have never been on a coach tour are keen to do so – from a poll of 5,870 – 43 per cent of all ages said they were likely to consider booking a coach holiday in the next 5 years.
Just two of the findings in the first ever nationwide CTA Coach Tourism Survey based on the views of more than 25,000 people, including 20 per cent who are non coach travellers. The survey was sent to their customers by more than 20 CTA coach tour operator members, while magazines such as Choice and Mature Times, Silver Travel Advisor also issued to their readers. In addition Visit Kent, Bournemouth Tourism and CalMac Ferries issued to their web users.
Further details were revealed by Peter Stratton, MD of ICT, when he spoke to delegates at the 2017 Coach Holiday Conference.
He said the response rate of around 6 per cent was significantly higher than the usual return for surveys of this kind, which were between 1 and 2 per cent. Around 65 per cent of recipients were aged 55 to 74, reflecting the core coach tourism market, while around 10 per cent were aged 45 to 54.
Eighty per cent had taken a coach holiday during the last five years, leaving 20 per cent who had not. Of those who hadn’t, the perception was positive in several areas, he said. They like coach tours for offering value for money, taking the hassle out of travel, being comfortable, sociable and safe. A significant minority even agree that coaches are a luxury form of travel.
The survey also reveals what is termed as the Net Promoter Score which evaluates perceptions among coach passengers. This came out at a creditable 27 – the same as hotels and various High Street brands – but it could be higher, said Peter. Interestingly those aged 45-64 gave a higher score of 31. But while there are a lot of ‘Promoters’ there are also a high number of ‘Passives’ – especially a lot of people in the mature age bracket – who just aren’t enthusiastic enough about the concept to recommend coach travel, yet they themselves love travelling by coach.
Summing up, Peter said it was important for operators to look at what they do and identifying ways to do it better. “We’re all familiar with the often negative view that coach holidays are for older people. What’s clear from the figures is that far from being a negative, it’s actually a positive. But what’s also clear is that with the growth in the number of older people, the market opportunities are there for the taking. The key benefits of coach holidays identified in this survey: good value; sociable; comfortable; safe; and less hassle than air travel, are likely to prove even more attractive. However, this new so-called baby boomer generation have higher expectations. To capture this new business, the product needs to improve.”
Note: A fuller report about the survey can be found in the new 2017 CTA Handbook. Links to the report will be provided to members later in February.