Despite the weak economy, religious and spiritual travel is on the rise. Possibly this is a result of watching movies like Eat, Pray, Love, The DaVinci Code, and The Passion of the Christ, sparking religious and spiritual consideration. Whatever the explanation, tour companies have added various new tours that individuals, groups, and travel professionals can take advantage of.
Travel professionals can cash in by marketing these tours to their local church or spiritual groups. With some creative thinking and marketing, these niche groups can widen an agency's client base considerably. A knowledgeable travel agent can make a trip of a lifetime for their clients and a customer for life.
What motivates religious and spiritual travel?
- The appeal of visiting religious destinations, including pilgrimages and spiritual healing journeys.
- Faith and spiritual meeting groups designed for meditation, retreats, and bible study.
- Missionary and disaster relief work.
- Junior and adult spiritual fellowship groups.
- Individuals looking for spiritual guidance.
Faith and spiritual destinations can be found all over the world. For first time groups, or for groups on a smaller budget, a local trip may be the place to start with. One example is the Historic Church Walking Tour of Gettysburg, or a meditation retreat in Colorado.
After that initial trip goes well, a longer distance trip may be in order. Then in the perfect world, the group expands and international pilgrimages or retreats start recurring, increasing the travel agency's business immensely.
This clientele expansion is more likely to occur with plenty of training and hard work, with the help of these tour operators specializing in faith and spiritual travel:
- Globus Family of Brands
- Regina Tours
- Homeric Tours
- CIE Tours International
- Mayflower Tours
- Ya'lla Tours USA
- Inpac Tours
- Himalayan Dreams
It is important to rely on reputable tour operators to provide a spiritual, safe and satisfying tour, while offering value as well. There are many companies that offer faith based tours that are less than reliable. Look for tour operators registered with the International Association of Travel Agents (IATA), Better Business Bureau (BBB), and United States Tourism Association (USTOA), or a national tour organization for destinations outside of the United States.
The World Religious Travel Association (WRTA) is the leading organization for marketing, educating, and expanding faith based travel around the world. Serious travel consultants looking to enter into the faith based travel market should consider some of the programs and events sponsored by WRTA.
Education, training and meetings for selling and marketing faith based and spiritual travel:
- World Religious Travel Expo is an annual event featuring workshops and guest speakers advancing faith based travel and tours.
- Globus Family of Brands is a leading tour operator for faith based travel.
- WRTA -Faith Travel Webinars trains individuals to promote faith based travel.
- Catholic Relief Services offers training for ministries and world education retreats.
A niche market like faith based and spiritual travel can be a lucrative and rewarding endeavor for a travel professional willing to put out extra effort, particularly one with interest in faith or spirituality.
See my blog regarding faith based and spiritual travel development.