Tauck has significantly bolstered its small group offering around the world, beefing up its number of special land tour departures in 2023 by over 35% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The US-based travel company is offering around 75 land journeys in Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with most departures averaging 24 guests. In Africa, Tauck’s safari programs accommodate as few as 18 guests.
To amplify the ‘small is big’ drive at Tauck, the company has released a new 28-page e-brochure that highlights the benefits of small group travel and lists all of the Tauck itineraries where small group departures are available.
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Dan Mahar, CEO Tauck noted that Tauck’s focus on providing its guests with small group experiences pre-dates the COVID pandemic.
“Even before COVID, we’d been evolving our product lines to reflect our ‘small is big’ mantra,” said Mahar.
“Our guests understand and appreciate that they’re able to immerse themselves in the destination in a more interactive and authentic way, and enjoy a more engaging and enriching experience, when they travel in a smaller, more intimate group setting.
The onset of COVID boosted the appeal of small group travel for very different reasons, but even before the pandemic, Tauck was already moving firmly in that direction.
Small ships and European river cruises
Mahar added that Tauck’s “small is big” ethos extends beyond the small group departures of its land journeys to include how the company operates its ocean cruises, European river cruises, and even its standard-group-size classic land tours.
Tauck’s primary maritime partner on its small ship ocean cruises is Ponant and its Explorer ships (capacity: 184 guests) on numerous itineraries. More than a dozen of Tauck’s small ship ocean cruises employ ships carrying fewer than 200 guests, including four vessels that carry just 100 passengers or less. By contrast, the average cruise ship carries approximately 3,000 guests, while some hold more than 6,000 travellers.
On Europe’s rivers, Tauck’s newest ship, the ms Andorinha, carries just 84 guests – fewer than any other riverboat in the company’s fleet. That’s also fewer passengers than any other similarly sized ship sailing Portugal’s Douro River where the Andorinha operates.
Launched in 2021, the Andorinha’s is just the latest example of Tauck keeping its riverboat capacity intentionally low, to offer guests more suites, roomier public areas, and a less crowded, more intimate onboard ambiance.
In 2017 and 2018, Tauck reconfigured its four 110-metre ships to decrease their capacity, reducing the number of guests hosted on each ship from 118 to 98 per vessel. Tauck’s four 135-metre ships, meanwhile, have a capacity of just 130 guests each, compared to 190 passengers (or 46% more) routinely carried aboard competitors’ ships of the same size.
Sightseeing choices = Smaller group sizes
Tauck’s small ship ocean cruises and European river cruises both feature a choice of sightseeing options in many ports, with guests able to choose the option that aligns best with their interests and, in some cases, their preferred activity level. This ensures a more engaging, more customised itinerary for each guest, and it also reduces the size of each group to provide a more intimate and interactive experience.
Even in ports where all guests enjoy the same sightseeing, Tauck divides guests into smaller groups. (The company routinely follows the same strategy with its land-based motor coach tours.)