As I’m creating this post, we’re perhaps a month or so before the new vaccines start rolling out. Once it does, we know that demand for travel will begin in earnest. We’re already receiving requests for the summer of 2021.
Many in the industry say it’ll be sometime- perhaps a few years, before travel is back to pre-pandemic levels. And I can understand that. Personally, we here at Viet Orchid Travel have spent the past six months trying to figure out how we think it would be best for you, our clients, and guests.
This is so that you can experience the ‘best of’, but in a way that is more meaningful and respecting social distancing along with maintaining family or friends ‘bubbles’, for as long as necessary.
For the tourism industry in general, to be safe going forwards there has to be a huge amount of change. The most profitable and ‘social’ tours for many are what we in the business call GIT (group independent travellers) or SIC (seat in coach). This type of tour is common around the world and for most operators is the most profitable.
I say that because it’s about economies of scale. Putting say 40 guests on a 53 seater coach and touring for one – or many days is about simple maths. The costs per passenger is derived from dividing the fixed cost of some elements by the number of guests. So for instance if the bus with driver costs say $300 per day and the guide costs say $70 per day and the tour comprises 40 passengers, then the sums per passenger are $7.50 for the bus and $1.75 for the guide. Of course, some other elements of the tour, eg lunch or admission fees are the same cost per passenger irrespective of the number.
We here at Viet Orchid of course know about GIT / SIC tours and I can say that we’ve never created one in all our 11 years of business. Sure we could have probably made enough money that I could have retired now, instead of still sat at a computer every day (although I love it really). But right from the start, we wanted to be different from the masses.
And so we’ve always operated private tours. By this I mean that it’s a private group. This is generally couples and families, but also small groups of friends (say 2 or 3 couples) of solos. The cost per passenger formula is still the same, but by example the figures are higher.
For this example, let’s say 2 couples, for which we’d use a 15 seat minibus (transit or sprinter). Assuming the cost is say $100 per day for the vehicle and same $75 for the guide The sums now calculate to $25 per passenger for the vehicle and $18.75 for the guide.
So we’ve probably always been more expensive than a like-for-like SIC bus tour and we’ve known that. But we’ve always had a huge edge for much more personal service and flexibility, not only when planning the tour – but especially when delivering the tour in-country.
For transportation we’ve always gone for space and comfort over cost. So we use a 7-seater car for 1 or 2 guests. For 4-6 guests, we use the 15 van and on the rare occasions we have over 6 guests, we use a 27 seat minibus.
We’ll carry on with our way of working and now of course we’re also ahead of the game, in that spacious vehicles for social distancing and bubbles will be the norm for the foreseeable future. Make no mistake – not many people will want to be crammed in a bus with groups of people (as nice as they may be), but with unknown health conditions and all that traveling with strangers entails.
In upcoming posts I’ll detail more about what you can expect from us going forward into the new era of experiential and socially acceptable safe private tours!