Perhaps most people's perception of coach holidays involves a group of elderly and sometimes immobile travelers visiting a seaside resort on an old bus style coach. While there are certainly a diverse range of demographics in the coach travel sector, this archaic image simply does not hold true any more. Other forms of coach travel may include students on the cheap or hoards of school children. This again may be the case but coach travel no longer belongs just to these exclusive groups.
Nowadays coach tourism comes in many shapes and sizes – in Britain and around the globe. Coaches don't just do day excursions, short breaks or longer holidays. Sports superstars, pop music fans, theatre goers, conference delegates, cruise passengers – all often choose to travel by coaches. Even our Royals use coaches when there aren't enough carriages and horses to go round!
But is it cool and how does the sometimes snobby culture of the UK stack up against our European cousin's perception of coach travel. Cary Grant has been quoted as saying "beats flying, doesn't it". In Spain, companies such as subsidiary and Alsa, carries business people between cities. Coach travel there is "cool and acceptable" according to Mr. Bowker (National Express chief executive).
Groups of lads on Stag dos may often use a coach to get themselves to that weekend trip or indeed a hen party for the same reason. It offers a convenient and easy way of traveling without the added hassle and expense of flying. Coaches are also increasingly being used to operate your normal package holiday's targeted at families or young professionals. It is often an alternative and cheaper method of getting to the Alps for a skiing holiday in Tignes or Alp d'huez.
You may be surprised that the UK coach travel sector has over 8 million customers annually with a turnover of £2.5 billion. Thr environmental advantage of coaches also creates an attraction for coach travel to a new generation of demographics outside the previous stereotypes.
Coaches have come a long way since their conception it terms of comfort, style and their luxuries. This encourages different demographics to use coach travel as a means of getting to their holiday. Coaches range in size to cater for a variety of groups in the travel sector with everything from 19 to 85 seat coaches. This helps and encourages groups such as stag does and hen parties to use a smaller coach were as previously they may have used a number of cars. The concept of the executive coach has perhaps encouraged corporate group travel. It is now possible to get climate control, airline style folding seat back tables, WC, glazed glass for privacy and hot and cold drinks facilities.
The only limitation with coaches is distance and their ability to cross continents. As such most coach holidays departing from the UK will have destinations of Europe or inbound for weekends away in the UK. This will be true across all demographics. If looking for ideas on where to visit you could try looking at 'Trip Adviser’ or other smaller European destination guides such as 'In Europe'. Coach tours come in a variety of forms. There is a good selection of package holidays to places such as Spain including the Costa Brava, Calella, and Cantabria. Younger and family holidaymakers are also visiting events such as the German Christmas markets or Edinburgh at tattoo time.
By Robert Meldrum