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Tauck operates first-ever “Smaller Groups”


Tauck expands its niche with “Smaller Group” tours, averaging 15 guests, after significant growth in its Small Group offerings, enhancing intimate travel experiences.

WILTON, CT – With Tauck’s Small Group tours now accounting for more than half of its non-cruise business each year, the company is leaning into its “small groups” success with the introduction of its new “Smaller Group” tours and departures. Where Tauck’s Small Group trips will continue to average 24 guests per departure, the new Smaller Group journeys will average just 15 guests. Tauck’s classic land journeys, by comparison, host an average of 35 – 44 guests.

Tauck is piloting the new program in 2024, with the first Smaller Group departures of three tours (“America’s Canyonlands,” “A Week In… Spain” and “A Week In… Ireland”) having operated in recent weeks. In all, Tauck will pilot 26 Smaller Group departures spanning seven itineraries in North America and Europe this year, and all Smaller Group tours in 2024 will be special departures of existing Tauck itineraries.

The program’s official launch is slated for Tauck’s 100th anniversary in 2025, when the company will expand its Smaller Group offerings to include 124 departures across 12 itineraries in North America, Europe and Africa. As in 2024, 2025’s Smaller Groups will feature special departures of existing Tauck itineraries. However, the program will also feature three African safaris where all departures are Smaller Group offerings. Tauck’s 2025 Smaller Group tours, like all of its other 2025 tours and cruises, are posted on the company’s website,, and open for booking.

“Although a large segment of our guests remain devoted to our classic group size, we’ve also seen incredible growth in our Small Group departures over the past several years,” said Tauck CEO Dan Mahar. “More recently, some of our guests have shown increasing interest in even smaller group sizes. Our market research has zeroed in on an optimal group size of 12-20 among those interested in smaller groups, so our average group size of 15 travelers is right in the center of that sweet spot.”

Mahar went on to note that Tauck’s market research also identified the attributes of smaller group travel that held particular appeal to the company’s guests. “Our guests want to experience deeper connections with the places they visit, and they want more time, freedom and flexibility. They also want to forge deeper connections with their Tauck Director, and with their local guides and fellow travelers, and all of that is easier to accomplish within a smaller group setting,” said Mahar.

“And of course,” Mahar continued, “smaller groups have access to places and experiences that simply aren’t available to larger groups. On our African safaris, for example, our Smaller Groups stay in cozy lodges and tented camps with limited capacity, minimizing disruptions to the wildlife and environment, and providing a more authentic experience.”

“Small is big”

Tauck’s introduction of Smaller Groups is just the latest example of its “Small is Big” philosophy, which has reshaped the company’s product offerings over the last several years and extends beyond the Small Group and new Smaller Group departures of its land journeys to include how the company operates its European river cruises and small ship ocean cruises.

On Europe’s rivers, Tauck’s newest ship, the ms Andorinha, carries just 84 guests – fewer than any other riverboat in the company’s fleet. That’s also fewer passengers than on other similarly sized ships sailing Portugal’s Douro River, where the Andorinha operates. In 2017 and 2018, Tauck reconfigured its four 110-meter ships to decrease their capacity, reducing the number of guests hosted on each ship from 118 to 98 per vessel. Tauck’s four 135-meter ships have a capacity of just 130 guests each, far less than the 190 passengers (or 46% more) routinely carried aboard competitors’ ships of the same size.

On its small ship ocean cruises, Tauck’s primary partner is the luxury French line Ponant, with Tauck employing Ponant’s Explorer ships (capacity: 184 guests) on numerous itineraries. Overall, ten of Tauck’s small ship ocean cruises sail aboard ships carrying fewer than 200 guests, including three vessels that carry 100 passengers or less. By contrast, the average cruise ship carries approximately 3,000 guests, with the world’s largest vessel accommodating more than 7,500 travelers.

Tauck’s European river cruises and small ship ocean cruises also feature a choice of sightseeing options in many ports, with guests able to choose the option that aligns best with their interests and, in some cases, their preferred activity level. This ensures a more engaging, more customized itinerary for each guest, and it also reduces the size of each group to provide a more intimate and interactive experience. (In ports where all guests enjoy the same sightseeing, Tauck will still divide guests into smaller groups.)

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.