What Travel Agents Need to Know About Adventure in 2016

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Adventure in 2016

Guest Column: The Adventure Trade Association reveals how to best match tour operators with clients’ needs By: Casey Hanisko, vice president of marketing and communications for ATTA
Clients want more customization when it comes to adventure travel. // © 2016 iStock
Clients want more customization when it comes to adventure travel. // © 2016 iStock

The Details

Adventure Travel Trade Association

Adventure Travel Research 

The Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) recently released 2016 Industry Snapshot examines adventure travel trends with special attention to how these trends affect today’s travel agents.

At ATTA, we consistently hear that clients want customized itineraries, more culture-based adventures and options for soft adventures.

Although travel agents can expertly handle customization requests, they may not realize that tour operators can also do the same. Following are key takeaways from the report that can simplify the process of matching operators to clients’ needs.

Trends Shaping Product
First off, we know adventure travel is becoming more mainstream. Everywhere we look, we see people on stand-up paddleboards, in kayaks, rafting down rivers or biking.

Because of this, tour operators continue to look to diversify and add options to their itineraries. They are also seeing an increase in last-minute and online bookings (both of which are good for travel agents). As you develop relationships with operators across the globe, ask them to recommend trips that have openings close to the departure date or itineraries that can be pulled together last minute. Having these options will help you handle clients expertly and quickly.

Safety and security are also high on travelers’ minds, which influences operators’ product development decisions. Travel agents can help with high-touch customer service that showcases an ability to care for and watch out for the needs of travelers while they are gone, whether it’s passing along important travel alerts or handling potential crises.

Good News for the Solo Traveler
The importance of the solo traveler as part of a tour operator’s client mix is also gaining ground. With adventure operators reporting that 17 percent of their clients travel alone, it is not surprising that a sharper eye is needed to understand their needs. Forty-two percent of adventure travel tour operators stated that they are working to build more itineraries geared toward solo travelers. Next time you are researching a tour operator, ask what they do to cater to this group, or if they have itineraries specifically designed for them.

Spinning the Globe
Wondering what destination to suggest next, or what new expertise to add to your knowledge base? The top destinations for adventure tour operators include Italy, the U.S., Spain, France, Peru, India, the U.K., Ecuador, South Africa, Canada, Chile and Argentina. And as far as activities are concerned, businesses based in North America report that cycling, cultural-immersion activities, hiking, ecotourism and snorkeling are the top five activities of interest. If we compare all companies across the globe, the list includes trekking instead of snorkeling.

What Women Want
Women make up 57 percent of guests of companies headquartered in Africa. This shows a strong interest from women in the region and suggests that an Africa-based adventure itinerary may pique a female client’s interest. After Africa, it’s Europe. Women also tend to invite friends, so discovering options for females traveling in groups and encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations may introduce a future client.

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