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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ask the Tour Operator: Trends in City Tours

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When Travel Weekly asked NTA HQ about trends in big-city tours, we asked members for insight. Jenifer Robertson, with About Tours in Chicago, had plenty to share on several aspects of urban tours. Her observations are valuable if you're in a metropolitan area-or anticipate that urban trends will spread outward.

How are tours changing in major U.S. cities?
Modality: "We have noticed a big increase in bike tours and running tours, and the JeniferRobertsonSegway tours have expanded to include gardens and architecture tours. Self-guided walking tours using a cell phone are also increasing."

Culinary: "More and more culinary tours are offered in Chicago: pizza tours, cupcake tours, chocolate tours, beer-tasting tours, pub crawls, etc.  I think all the cooking shows on TV have led to an interest in gourmet food. In Chicago, ethnic and neighborhood tours are becoming more popular, and we offer an ethnic dine-around with appetizers in Chinatown, entrĂ©e in Greektown and dessert in Little Italy."

Niche: "Baby boomers who don't like group tours often will go on niche tours that focus on their interests, whether it's architecture, art, culinary, biking, quilting, collecting, etc. We worked with a group that collected perfume bottles."

International: "We find that international visitors have done their research online and often know what they want to see and do before they arrive. Sometimes it's very specific-certain buildings, a special restaurant in Chicago. We have also noticed that international visitors continue to be fascinated by Al Capone, Michael Jordon and the Chicago Bulls, and jazz and the blues.".

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