Those of you who have clients in the 18- to 39-year-old demographic, know how differently millennials go about planning their travel. Geckos Adventures, an adventure travel brand housed under Intrepid Group, is new to the North American market and can help you plan the perfect immersive travel experience for this age group.
Recommend’s Associate Editor had a chance to chat about Geckos—what makes them unique, why they market to this age group, and what kind of incentives they offer travel agents—with Leigh Barnes, marketing manager at Intrepid Group.
Michelle Marie Arean (MMA): Tell us a little bit about Geckos and how it came about.
Leigh Barnes (LB): Geckos is an adventure travel brand that specializes in adventure travel for 18- to 39-year-olds. The brand targets young people looking for fun, and started with its first trip to Thailand in 2000. Currently we visit 70 countries; it’s growing all the time as we open to new markets. Most of the trips are focused around cultural immersion and getting under the skin of a destination, but really allowing young people as much free time as possible so they can go off and explore on their own.
MMA: Why market to the 18- to 39-year-old age group?
LB: We feel that people in their 20s and 30s want to feel like they’re traveling with a group of friends, and it’s important to us that they feel they’re traveling with a group of people they feel comfortable with. Also, within the adventure travel industry, we felt no one was particularly targeting that demographic. We really wanted to provide a small group adventure product that caters exclusively to young people. We take a lot of feedback from the agents in Australia, the UK and North America, and they thought there was a need for a company that provided adventure travel for that age group.
MMA: Do you only offer trips for that age group?
LB: Within Intrepid Group, we have a number of brands. We have Intrepid Travel, which is open to all ages from 18 and beyond. We also have Peregrine Adventures, which is a three- to four-star, more inclusion product that has a demographic of people 50-plus. Again, it’s all ages, but we sort of have a product for each customer.
MMA: How does that age group differ from others when traveling or planning a tour excursion/trip?
LB: Generally, we find that the younger demographic uses the Internet a lot more; they’re more focused on online reviews, and also find more content like online blogs and articles about travel. Gecko Adventures really targets them on the website. We have a blog about Geckos Tales that’s really a content-rich environment where we talk about the experiences you’ll have on a trip. Also, we find that the younger travelers are green focused, and focused on responsible tourism. Geckos has really embraced that by taking a stance on banning elephant rides.
MMA: Did you say you’re against elephant rides?
LB: Gecko and Intrepid Group, as a whole, has stopped going on elephant rides. We made this announcement roughly three to six months ago. We worked a lot on coming to this stance, but on all our trips we now focus on educating people about elephants. We work with charity organizations to understand the issue and to get more information on how we can support elephants. We’re quite passionate about wildlife and supporting wildlife sustainably, and ensuring that the animals are treated the best way possible. We’re very focused on making sure that people travel responsibly. We do incorporate a large wildlife component into all of our trips, but it’s more about educating people and enjoying animals in the wild.
MMA: What makes traveling with Geckos unique?
LB: We have these amazing local leaders—all of our trips are run by local leaders—willing to give you a great time, suggest what tours to go on, and see these experiences as best as possible. In Morocco, you get to have tea with a Berber family, while in Peru you can do a home stay. There are a number of trips that have home stays, in which you stay with a family and see how they live, how they cook, and help them prepare their meals.
MMA: What can travelers expect from traveling with Geckos?
LB: They can expect to have a really fun time, whether it’s eating the food, having a local drink, and you also get an understanding of the destination, getting a really strong cultural immersion. It’ll be very cost-effective, so there’s value there. With Geckos you’re traveling on local transport so you’re traveling as the locals do. It’s a really exciting and different way to travel, like an overnight train in India or getting on a tuk-tuk through the roads of Thailand. If you do a trekking-based trip to Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro, you can expect a great trekking trip to be planned, so you’ll be doing lots of walking and learning about a destination while going to see amazing landmarks.
MMA: What’s an average price range for your trips, and how do you keep costs down to be able to provide these experiences?
LB: Generally the cost of the trips are between $1,000-$1,200; this includes all the locally owned and operated accommodations, local transports, and certain meals. The average trip is about 10 to 12 days, and trips range from five days to 30. The main thing for us is live inclusions, which means more free time for the customer to put their own stamp on the experience and allow them to seek out their own activities at their own budget.
MMA: How important are travel agents for Geckos, and what kind of incentives do you offer them?
LB: Extremely important. They make up a large share of our business. Travel agents are the ones who interact with travelers on a daily basis. We’re working more and more to build our industry relations with North America. The agent incentives run from 10 to 20 percent.
MMA: Anything more you want to add?
LB: We’re coming to North America now, so it’s easier for the customer. They’ll be able to book online, over the phone, or through their preferred agent.