We’ve mentioned the ‘hybrid’ self-guided tour quite often in our previous articles. In this article, we take a closer look at what makes these types of self-guided tours an interesting and easy-to-adopt travel product for travel agents and tour operators, especially for those new to offering self-guided programs.
Recap: What defines a ‘hybrid’ self-guided itinerary?
Before we dive in further, let’s first recap what ‘hybrid’ self-guided tours are exactly.
‘Hybrid’ or ‘semi self-guided itineraries are multi-day options that often span numerous regions or destinations, and comprise a mix of guided and self-guided excursions or modules along the way.
A ‘hybrid’ ESGT truly offers the best of both worlds, and can easily contain excursions with a local tour guide (perhaps for the key sites in the itinerary), mixed with self-guided city explorations or modules as a complementary option, based on your and/or your clients’ preferences.
For a reminder of all 3 Easia Self-Guided Tour types and an example itinerary, check our 2nd article in the ESGT explainer series: Easia Self-Guided Tour Types: A Full Spectrum of Self-Guided Possibilities.
For the majority of tour operators and travel agents, we believe compiling your own ‘hybrid’ self-guided itineraries will probably be the easiest way to dip your toe into our new and innovative self-guided product line for Southeast Asia.
Benefit 1: A perfect balance of expert knowledge and flexibility
Basically, we can look at ‘hybrid’ self-guided tours in two ways. First, we can view them as conventional guided journeys where we simply swap (or insert) a few excursions with a local guide for excursions led by a mobile app instead. Secondly, we can see it as a fully autonomous self-guided itinerary, where we add in days or excursions led by an expert local guide to enrich and deepen the experience.
Either way, mixing up an itinerary with guided and self-guided visits and excursions offers an optimized journey where your travelers can benefit and truly soak up the culture and history of the visited destination through the storytelling & knowledge of expert local guides, while still retaining a great amount of freedom, privacy, and flexibility through the independent self-guided excursions.
Benefit 2: An easy way to modernize your product offer
As seen in our previous ESGT explainer articles, one of the main driving factors behind our decision to move towards the development of self-guided tours to Southeast Asia was the element of innovation it would deliver to our clients’ product ranges and the opportunity for them to reach and attract new markets.
By starting with ‘hybrid’ self-guided tours, travel agents and tour operators are able to easily ‘upgrade’ their existing brand image as well as product portfolio for Southeast Asia and:
- Draw new attention to their brand
- Stay up-to-date with global trends
- Have a compelling product on offer for repeat travelers to Southeast Asia
- Speak to an increasingly growing and younger buyer demographic
- Digitalize their product portfolio
- Replace old-fashioned printed itineraries with a digital roadbook in a mobile application
Benefit 3: More price-competitive than fully guided programs
At the end of the day, every travel business aims to add value and make a profit. The majority of travel companies around the globe are currently experiencing financial challenges from the Covid crisis, while a sizeable portion of consumers has become increasingly price-sensitive. So, for many in the industry, margins count more than ever before.
By limiting the number of guided excursions in a multi-day itinerary, you’ll still be able to offer qualitative journeys to your travelers but at a lower overall cost, enabling you to become more competitive in your market.
Benefit 4: A perfect balance between adventure and safety
Most of our ‘hybrid’ self-guided tours come with a welcome briefing on arrival for your travelers (from the Easia ESGT team). Having this personal welcome in the destination, coupled with excursions led by an experienced local tour guide for the most impressive historical landmarks, as well as professional traveler support by phone and by chat throughout their entire trip, will provide your travelers with peace of mind and assurance needed for a relaxing experience.
Adding a few self-guided excursions into itineraries will also provide your travelers with the freedom and excitement to independently explore each destination further, navigating themselves through the destination, meeting local people, soaking up the local life, and ultimately offering a well-balanced sense of challenge & achievement.
Aside from the added element of safety, ‘hybrid’ self-guided tours often include personalized services, providing an additional level of comfort.
Pre-booked transfers, vetted accommodation, a surprise massage on arrival or a relaxing spa session after a long day of outdoor exploration, luggage transportation, romantic dinners and more, can be easily added to increase your travelers’ convenience, enabling them to fully enjoy their journey and have a relaxing holiday free from worry.
Or perhaps you’re still puzzled as to how this could help your business?
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Interested in reading more about Easia Self-Guided Tours (ESGT)?
Check out the other informative articles in our ESGT explainer series: