The Adventure Curious

Part-time adventure travelers are a sweet spot for travel agents By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West

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Read this issue of Explorer's cover story on adventure travel trends.

I ran into an old friend the other day, and we eventually got around to discussing our recent summer travels. He went to Peru with his family for about 10 days, during which he took a cycling tour, his wife studied Peruvian cuisine in cooking classes led by a local chef and his two kids spent time in a day camp learning about the region’s biodiversity.

“What did you guys do this summer?” he asked me.

While my family and I took an amazing trip to Spain, it wasn’t nearly as industrious as his vacation. I did my best to make our trip sound more focused — so we didn’t seem like total slackers — but it’s hard to make beachgoing and fine dining sound like personal improvement.

While we did get some adventure into our trip — there were hikes in the Catalan countryside, some cycling and a kayaking excursion — overall this was not one of our more daring vacations. Past getaways have included scuba diving and snorkeling, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and more. I suppose my family is typical in that we like to dabble in adventure, but we also enjoy slowing down and chilling out.

In this issue’s cover story, “Written in the Stars,” you can read about a wide range of adventure travel trends, including a rise in “adventure-curious” travelers. These are typically people who are not looking for an entire trip of constant stimulation, but who instead wish to combine soft-adventure and experiential activities with some downtime and pampering. Think: Two days of a weeklong trip doing something unique or adventurous, and then relaxing with family and friends the rest of the time.

This type of traveler represents a sweet spot for travel agents. While true enthusiasts tend to book directly with specialty outfitters, adventure-curious travelers generally need more advice and are more open to suggestions. Agents are used to helping clients with the pampering part of the vacation equation, but it can be a boost to their profits if they focus on the soft-adventure aspects, as well.

A recent survey of Adventure Travel Trade Association members showed that 67 percent expect an increase in year-over-year revenue in 2015. Members in North America alone expect 20 percent growth. With a booming market like that, travel agents would do well to spend a bit more time assisting their own adventure-curious clients — just make sure you also work in plenty of time for the beach and a few good meals.