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As we go to press, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is preparing for its annual summit, held this year in Alaska. As the top event for the adventure travel industry, hundreds of operators, guides and media will be gathering for workshops, networking and destination education.
Also in attendance this year is a small but growing number of travel agents. At last year’s summit, a panel on working with travel agents was standing room only. I expect that this year’s panel on the subject will also be packed, and for good reason: Adventure companies need the help of agents to grow their businesses, and agents need to understand the fast-growing adventure/experiential travel market in order to meet client demand.
Agents are reporting more interest in adventure travel than ever before. In a recent survey of Virtuoso advisors, 95 percent said they have seen active, adventure and specialty travel sales rise within the past 12 months, and the same number say they expect demand for this type of travel to increase within next two to three years.
Adventure suppliers, on the other hand, should be very interested in the travelers who use agents. According to a recent consumer study by Travel Weekly (also part of Northstar Travel Group), customers who use agents travel more often, take longer trips and spend more. In particular, travel agent clients spend more than twice as much per year on travel ($10,808) vs. other travelers, who spend about $4,700 per year.
So, agents need to know more about adventure travel, and adventure operators would surely like to tap into the customer base of travel agents — sounds like a perfect match.
What makes this relationship even more compatible is the ethos shared by both groups. As the Virtuoso survey points out, the top three tips advisors share with clients looking to do more adventure travel is to challenge themselves by stepping out of their comfort zones and to be open to new activities; to familiarize themselves with the culture of the destination by meeting interesting locals; and to look at the world in a new way, gain a fresh perspective and possibly even change an opinion. I’m sure there are many ATTA members who are in this industry because they enjoy providing exactly these experiences for customers.
At TravelAge West, we’re very proud of producing the only travel trade publication dedicated to bringing adventure travel to travel agents. We see great potential in helping both groups learn more about the other. It’s a partnership we’re thrilled to help facilitate.