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In recent years, I’ve come to accept that, after two knee surgeries, my skiing days are behind me. I admit there are times when I miss it, but what I’ve realized is that just because I can’t hit the slopes the way I used to, it doesn’t mean I have to limit my time surrounded by the beauty of the mountains. In fact, this issue’s cover story, “The Mountains Are Calling,” addresses the growth of other forms of mountain activities — many of which are accessible to a wide range of clients.
As the story points out, today’s travelers are looking beyond “a hotel room, a chairlift and a bar”; instead, they want a variety of unique experiences. This desire can be seen as part of a larger trend highlighted in recent research by the Adventure Travel Trade Association, in partnership with Outside magazine. The study looked at the travel motivations of more than 1,000 Outside subscribers and found that the No. 1 goal was “transformation.” This included a desire for “life-changing experiences,” “personal growth and challenge” and “a sense of accomplishment and achievement.”
Agents and suppliers should feel encouraged by these findings. After all, travel is an ideal delivery system for transformation. As long as agents and outfitters keep that goal in mind, they should have plenty of creative ways to provide the personal growth their customers seek. In addition, these goals are timeless — the ability to feel a sense of accomplishment doesn’t expire with the appearance of the first gray hairs — so you might have these adventurous clients for a long time to come.
One of the interesting trends the research points out is the role of risk in adventure travel. In a survey conducted about a decade ago, words such as “risk,” “extreme,” “danger” and “hardcore” were often used by respondents to describe their motivations. Today, those words are barely mentioned.
The focus has moved from the activity to its meaning, as defined by the individual. It’s clear that you must understand a client’s goals in order to better deliver an experience that meets their idea of “accomplishment.”
As you can see throughout this issue, there is no shortage of ways that travelers can find transformative experiences around the world — and no shortage of agents and suppliers standing by to assist them.