Targeting clients for adventure travel will result in bigger revenues for you, as guests booking adventure travel are spending a significant amount of money on 1-week trips, or taking longer trips, according to survey results released by Travel Leaders Group.

During the Travel Leaders EDGE Conference, we learned that Travel Leaders Group and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) partnered up to conduct a survey, which is the first of a planned annual benchmarking of travel agent active and adventure sales. The survey was conducted among leisure-selling travel agents, primarily those who specialize in adventure travel.

“Adventure is growing. You can see that in 2009 we were talking about an $89 billion industry, now in 2017 we’re talking over $600 billion,” said Russell Walters, regional director for ATTA. “It is a significant part of the travel sector. About 30 percent of the global tourism spending is spent in that adventure sector.”

Though adventure travel still makes up a small percentage of the overall business mix, 86 percent of the respondents indicated that they’ve seen a growth in their adventure travel sales over the past three years. And, if you’re thinking that selling adventure travel means targeting a younger clientele, think again. Many of the same clients you’re already targeting would be a perfect fit to sell adventure travel to.

“I think there’s a misconception first of all that the adventure travel space is dominated by macho men doing adventurous things,” said Perry Lungmus, v.p. for Travel Leaders Network, during the conference.

Adventure Travel
UnCruise Adventures offers guests plenty of activities outdoors during their sailings. (Photo courtesy of Travel Leaders Group.)

According to the survey, the number of respondents who reported that the average age of their adventure travel clients falls into the 29-40 age range versus those who fall in the 41-50 age range only differed by 1 percent. And 22 percent of the respondents indicated that the average age of their adventure clients fall into the 51-60 bracket.

Those surveyed who sell adventure travel see it as an “untapped potential.” They also said that the growth potential in adventure travel was their top motivation for selling adventure travel. And, agents reported booking a balanced mix of tour operator and customized independent trips.

Adventure Travel Defined
What is adventure travel? Walters describes adventure travel as activities that include wellness, have a local impact, challenge guests, cause a transformation, focus on the novel and unique: such as culinary, local foods, etc. “These trips involve interaction with nature that involve some form of physical activity, and cultural exchange. Those are the conditions for adventure travel,” said Walters. A trip that includes two of these three elements defines active and adventure travel.

These travelers are also making the most of their time with longer bookings. According to the survey, 65 percent of respondents said that the majority of their adventure travel bookings are for seven to 10 days in length, while 21 percent are most commonly booking trips of 11 days or longer. This also means clients are spending more on adventure travel trips. Thirty percent of the respondents said clients are spending $2,000-$3,000 pp on average, while 33 percent said the average spend is between $3,000-$5,000 pp, and 22.5 percent said that their clients are spending over $5,000 pp.

The Adventure Travel Client
Who is your target client for adventure travel? Well, almost anyone. According to the survey, the average adventure traveler is split 50/50 male or female, however the booking decision is 60 percent made by the female. And, the most popular types of trips these clients are booking include (in order of ranking): cultural tours, hiking/walking/trekking adventures, culinary or foodie experiences, scuba diving and snorkeling expeditions, small ship expedition cruises, sea kayaking and kayaking touring trips, biking/road biking/mountain biking, safari trips, whitewater rafting, and multi-sport trips such as hiking, biking, and rafting.

“What we’re seeing from your agents mirrors what we’re seeing in the industry. Ten years ago we were seeing white water rafting and rock climbing as the top two or three things on that list. And the cultural elements or culinary elements would probably have never shown up,” added Walters.

adventure travel
Hiking, walking, and trekking adventures rank at number two for adventure travel experiences travelers are seeking.

And if you’re wondering where these clients are interested in taking these adventure trips, the top 10 to make the list from the survey include: Western Europe: France, Italy, Germany, U.K., Norway, and Switzerland; Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, and Guatemala; North America (U.S. and Canada); the Caribbean; the South Pacific: New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti; South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador; Mexico; Africa; Central Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, and Poland; South and Southeast Asia: India and Malaysia.

How to Find Adventure Travelers
Agents said they found new business mostly from client referrals, social media, and Travel Leaders’ Agent Profiler—an agent locator tool on travelleaders.com that enables consumers to find travel agents focused on specific specialties and destinations. Agents who want to tap into this growing market can also sign up for the Travel Leaders’ Active and Adventure Travel Specialist Program.

For more on how to target specific travel segments, check out Travel Talk: Solo Travel to find out more on how to target that niche.