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For decades, around 5% of Austin Adventures’ total annual sales volume came from travel advisors. After years of conscious effort, the pioneering adventure operator grew that channel by single digits. This year, the company more than doubled its agent bookings — which now account for up to 16% of its business. And engines are officially revved: In 2020, Dan Austin, the company’s founder and CEO, says the operator is projecting to double its agent channel to 25% of annual bookings.
Austin admits that while gaining agent business has been a priority for the company for years, an unfortunate circumstance — a competitor that went out of business — spurred the new inquiries. Austin explains how the company has won over advisors, and what new lessons his team has learned from these new partners.
What have you learned about working with advisors now that you’re working with so many more?With our recent influx, we worked with clients whose departures were days away and even others who were already on their trips. Working together under stressful conditions with agents showed us the commitment and passion that good advisors have for their clients. Many were willing to do whatever it took to ensure that their clients — many of whom were families — were able to not only take their vacation, but enjoy a truly memorable experience.
And what have you learned about agents' clients?In general, clients have high expectations for both turnaround time and accessing a wide range of product offerings. Working with the advisor, we might start with one idea of what the client wants, but eventually end up at a completely different place. Working together and staying focused on getting the customer what they want — even when they might not know that themselves — is mission critical.
How have those new learnings made Austin Adventures a better partner?We have made the commitment that agents are a priority, and we will do what it takes to earn their business, trust and respect. Our entire team understands the importance and value they bring to the table.
Which itineraries are selling particularly well with the trade?Our biggest jump has been in custom itineraries and multigenerational adventures. This segment is really taking off. Whether for a family or a big multigenerational group, Yellowstone National Park has always been No. 1 for us. That said, we are seeing both Europe and Africa make a real comeback. In Europe, Croatia is our top seller, while Kenya is top for Africa, hands down. Domestically, Alaska and Utah’s National Parks continue to bring in strong bookings, too.
The DetailsAustin Adventures www.austinadventures.com