What New Venice Travel Restrictions Mean For Multi-Day and Coach Tour Operators
In 2024, there’s a new travel trend that multi-day and coach tour operators should pay close attention to for a growing number of international destinations, including Venice: travel restrictions.
The Italian city of Venice recently announced that it will limit the number of travelers allowed on tour groups in the latest effort to minimize over-tourism in the historic canal city. Starting on June 1, 2024, the city plans to limit tour groups to no more than 25 people. This will apply to Venice’s historic center as well as the popular islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, and includes transportation like buses for coach tours as well as boats for cruise tours. The intentions of this new law are aimed at preserving the historical site and at enhancing the travel experience of the millions that visit Venice each year. City officials want to limit the noise, traffic, and crowds that large tour groups can often bring with them into a UNESCO world heritage site that is on the brink of being in danger. Venice has been on the watch list for years, and officials want to help keep the famous and culturally significant canals safe from the wear and tear of over-tourism.
Multi-day tour operators can expect this trend to continue in other places around the globe, as sustainability and experience stay at the forefront of travel considerations for passengers and local communities. Consider Amsterdam: the popular tourist destination now restricts guided tours to 15 people. Any group larger than 4 will need a permit to operate in the city. The city has focused special attention on how groups travel within the city; there are limitations on buses and other modes of transportation that will affect how coach tour operators (or any tour operators) can organize their groups.
The turn toward sustainability from travelers is clear: 61% of travelers want to choose more sustainable travel options in 2024, and 77% of travelers aged between 18-29 say that sustainability impacts their travel decisions. Sustainable travel and tourism is all about people who want to travel with a more conscious effort to reduce–or if possible, eliminate–the negative impacts that it has. A large part of this is reducing the carbon footprint that the travel industry can cause – much of which is through modes of transportation like buses. It’s not just about sustainability, either: travelers also want to experience a place in a way that is authentic and personal, rather than feeling like a tourist among locals. And the feelings are certainly mutual for destinations, given the travel restrictions in Venice and Amsterdam. Across markets, 43-61% of travelers avoided a destination in the past 12 months for a sustainability-related issue. The biggest deterrent was crowding, followed by over-commercialization.
So what do these trends mean for multi-day and coach tour operators? An increasing need for flexibility and the ability to manage and organize groups for trips. Those that once took tours of many people to iconic destinations will now have to rethink the entire process. At first glance, this might cause concern for profit: how can you maintain the same revenue if groups are now cut in half or more? One solution is simply breaking up groups into smaller ones. Done manually, this process quickly becomes a time-consuming burden for tour operators. As many will know, switching reservations and breaking up groups is no simple process.
With the right software, however, managing these new guidelines and restrictions for groups can be made simple. Not only does the right tour operator software help manage breaking up smaller group sizes and transportation complexities, but it also helps operators understand and manage how these changes affect payments and profitability. Even better, last-minute changes can be handled easily and effectively, without all the hassle of manual operations. Even communications to passengers can be sent out with a few clicks of a button to alert them of any necessary changes in plan.
Take Softrip, for example: When running tours in Softrip, many tour operators have to make itinerary service changes right up to departure or even during the trip. In this situation, let’s say the solution is to break up your group into smaller segments. Softrip Operations will allow tour operators to:
- Use the Bus Assignments module to assign passengers into smaller groups. The product then manifests to your staff on these assignments.
- Add additional services (transportation, guides, sightseeing) in order to associate the correct costs to the tour.
- Communicate quickly with customers on itinerary changes.
- Generate reporting for per-trip Profit & Lost to understand the ramifications that any changes had on a given trip.
These types of changes can be managed for one or multiple departures as needed. No matter where 2024 (and beyond!) carries you and your passengers, changes and difficulties are certain to arise. It’s travel, after all! Your job is to make it seamless for your passengers and keep your team on track with the right details, no matter what happens. If there’s one thing certain about travel, it’s that things will come up that you didn’t plan for. But with the right tour operator software, you can reduce human error, plan for unforeseen changes, and pivot on the spot as needed.
Though the landscape of travel is changing with Venice travel restrictions and as destinations, passengers, and operators take sustainability and personal experience more and more into consideration, this doesn’t mean that multi-day tour operators need to be affected negatively. In fact, it just presents opportunities for new adventures. Don’t let another travel season go by without being equipped to deal with circumstances like the new Venice Travel restrictions. Book a demo with Softrip today to see how it can work for your business. Bon voyage!