Adventure Travel: Emerging Trends and Tips for Travel Agents and Tour Operators
While there are travelers who love to spend time by the beach side, enjoying the cool breeze and relishing the peaceful ambience at the shores, there are also many who do not fall for this bait. Instead, they are lovers of adventure. Thrill, excitement and adventure are what they crave for.
Why are we talking about these? Well, trends and preferences of travelers are changing with time. Adventure travel, as the name suggests, is not for the ones who would plan all the way to sit on the beach. Then who does this attract?
It attracts Travelers who like to hike, bike, kayak and do a lot more things that keep them occupied with physical activities, basically fall into the category of adventure travel enthusiasts.
Adventure Tourism is one of the fastest-growing trends in the travel domain, with a CAGR of around 46%. Defining exactly what it means is a little tricky. While for one group of travelers, adventure could mean leisurely biking and hiking tours, for the other group, it might entail base jumping into an underground cave in Mexico. So the main facets of adventure tourism usually include traveling to a distant location, interacting with different cultures and undertaking a physical activity of some kind.
Basically, adventure is grouped into two categories, namely, hard adventures and soft adventures. The term ‘hard adventure’ stands for the adventure activities that involve some sporting activities that are kind of extreme in nature and often dangerous. Some of the examples here include paragliding, rock climbing, surfing, and scuba diving in remote and exotic places.
On the other hand, ‘soft adventure’ is about leisurely activities that often revolve around educational objectives and do not involve much of dangerous and strenuous adventure or activities. To cite a few examples, you can consider activities such as wine tasting tours, bird watching, religious pilgrimages and architectural tours/visits, etc. which are likely to be called as soft adventure activities.
So, speaking of adventure travelers, what could be the activities or attractions for these groups who can’t sit still? How are their preferences shaping the trends of the travel industry in today’s world?
For anything that leads to physical activity, interaction with the environment and cultural exchange, it will allure adventure travelers. With the sudden spurt in the adventure travels’ share in the market, the industry is growing exponentially, where the overall objectives are influencing the type of travel people prefer today.
Here are 5 trends we observe in adventure travel today:
1) Connections matter – Not-So-Lonely Planet anymore
The travel industry is growing at an international level and specifically in countries with the developing middle-class economies. The world is not about grown-ups anymore. Millennials lead the pack, with more time and money to go behind their travel dreams. But this is not taking anything away from baby boomers, who are in fact among the fastest-growing demographics of adventure travelers. Meeting new people and building connections across the world is what these travelers, both young and old, are in love with today!
2) Active Travelers Rule wants you to Pack, Pedal & Paddle!
Fitness has come a long way from the leisurely activity or need based activity to a lifestyle today! Travelers pursue fitness as a part of their lifestyle which keeps them going and stay put with whatever they choose for adventure and excitement in life. While many people crib about ageing, there are some who are breaking the stereotypes and setting new benchmarks for the younger generation.
Along with Next Gens and millennials, those who are 50+ today are equally keen to pursue the kinds of activities that typically define “adventure travel”. Also, as the conventionally picked destinations become overrun, commodity based experiences are becoming less desirable. The philosophy of living in the moment and living on the edge of life are molding the travel goals of travelers today.
3) Ecotourism is Growing with a concept of greens are for growth
According to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, approximately 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips will be taken between now and 2020. This also highlights the lateral shift that his taking place in the travel industry in terms of picking the green locations and promoting sustainable environment and growth with time. So, for the Adventure tourism operators and travel agents, here is the catch! You must promote sustainable environmental practices as the experiences you offer are dependent on the protected natural settings and resources that also form an integral part of the cultural engagement adventure travelers desire today. Hence, as travelers become more eco-aware and look for responsible tourism providers, ecotourism and conservation travel is where travel agents and companies can look for a concrete business growth opportunity.
4) The packages for the family!
While family trips were conventionally planned in the form of a min-van road trip or a visit to the iconic park or something such, families these days are seeking transformative travel experiences that enrich and educate — No, their group does not leave behind their siblings and grandparents. In fact, elderly couples or grandparents are often driving this trend, planning up stuff and arranging travel adventures for up to three generations in a go! Way to go you Grandmas and Grandpas! Pretty clear with what the travel agents and companies should offer in packages now, isn’t it?
5) Keep It Real! Authenticity is Paramount
It’s high time we observe that adventure travelers place a higher premium on exciting and authentic experiences, which reflects a distinct set of values that are profusely shaping the future of travel. The drift is taking place from typical sightseeing experiences to a more realistic and lively experience that is passive sightseeing. With so many chains of travel agencies and franchises, reaching out to a travel agent for an amazing and enriching adventure travel is quite much at an arm’s length.
Cultural encounters, home-stays and hands on cooking & camping, intimate encounters out in the open and wild are what these travelers have an appetite for. So, plan your packages and tours accordingly to entice these enthusiasts.
So, specifically, if the travel companies and agents need to ponder on what would work for them and what not, below are a few things and tips to keep in mind while you plan your packages and help execute travel plans of their customers:
1. Identify customer needs: there’s nothing more attracting and appealing than pitching customers with packages that suit their requirements and needs. Hence, understanding your customers’ needs is a must. Post that you can always refer to the trends to make things happen for them in an amazing way.
2. Packages work a great deal: Take advantage of the leisurely and free spirited mood of the travelers and offer them packages that give them a straight deal! No ifs and buts, only end to end travel plans & solutions. You too would not want to do everything by yourself when you’re on a tour, so cover all you can and provide something that’s close to sounding ‘complete’ for your customers.
3. Customer Engagement and participation is a must: Attracting your customers can begin from blogging, social networking and building a digital brand to expand your online reach to your target audience. Speaking of the engagement during travel trips, activities that help your customers connect with others and engage in some lovely networking opportunities involving interactions and cultural exchange, are a must on your list of offerings.
4. Plan things such that you create brand ambassadors & gain happy testimonials: There’s nothing more convincing than a customer’s words. Also, when it is about the grapevine effect, it better be about what’s good in what you offer!
5. There’s no substitute to being diligent: Dare to work hard to have your customers on board! Take some painstaking efforts to dig out your customers who love thrilling activities and trips, to grow your business. Connect with them personally based on identifying their needs. What follows it to work towards providing comprehensive travel solutions, engaging activities and a delightful experience to live by!
Remember, the entire experience leads to business growth and loyal, satisfied customers. And if it is adventure travel they desire, ensure it is what they get and beyond their expectations! A little extra hard work is always fruitful and satisfying.