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In 2015, Karl Nesseler was an expedition photographer on Mount Everest and saw the destruction of that year’s earthquakes firsthand. The experience inspired him to guide a few trips per year, involving as much of the local community as possible and sparing some trip costs to help friends in villages rebuild.
In his position as business development for Anywhere, Inc., Nesseler also trains travel advisors and local experts in the different country offices of the company, and plans trips for some of the firm’s high-end clients. Here, Nesseler shares how to market meaningful adventure travel in an approachable way — and how that can result in a true transformation for clients.
How can fellow travel advisors market adventure travel in a way that will resonate with clients?For today’s travelers, “adventure” could mean a trip to an exotic restaurant or a drive in a local taxi through remote areas. Adventures in the modern age can almost be described as micro-explorations into aspects of an individual traveler’s unknown. Marketing, therefore, should focus on sparking curiosity by presenting ‘the big unknown’ as something accessible under the right conditions and with professional guidance. It is crucial to set realistic expectations in all aspects of adventure trip marketing. I want my clients to arrive with confidence — in our services but also in their own abilities and knowledge of the place.
How has this played out on your own trips?Many people imagine the trek to Everest Base Camp as a complete suffer fest with basic camp food and cold nights spent in tents along the way. The trip is definitely a physical challenge, but many are very surprised when I tell them that we will have electronic-heating blankets available for the first five nights and delicious traditional meals in beautiful mountain lodges. It doesn't take away from “the adventure” of trekking to Base Camp — the trail and the mountains are still the same — but we will do everything in our power to make the whole experience more comfortable and safer. This is what our marketing needs to communicate: We are prepared to take you there and you can fully rely on us.
What elements does a trip need to be transformational?Elements for a transformational trip include a physical challenge, an extreme and exotic environment and/or immersion into an unknown culture. Everest Basecamp is a great example of all three.
Accomplishing a lifelong goal, being in an extreme environment completely out of your comfort zone and seeing how far you can push yourself are all extremely valuable — even more so in retrospect. One of the sentences I hear the most on my trips is "I can’t believe I’m doing this and that I've made it this far." People don’t know what they’re capable of. Probably the hardest part is signing up for one of these adventures.
How does the experience of trekking to Everest Base Camp bring people together?Everybody is diving into this vastly different culture together; there is only limited access to technology, and all members have to deal with the same extreme conditions of the environment. Immediately, there is a lot of common ground. That’s when a 30-year-old UX-designer from San Francisco connects with a 58-year-old former building-manager from Pittsburg over a bowl of vegetable fried rice at a teahouse, contemplating the conditions of the trail and the number of yaks encountered. Every member of the group wants to be in the final team photo at Base Camp. The dynamic and support that naturally develops within the group on our way to accomplish the common goal always fascinates me. It's a great example of what humans can do when they come together with a lot of positive energy and compassion for one another.
Are you noticing any new trends in what clients are looking for in adventure travel?I'm noticing that more adventures are accessible to a broader audience due to a higher quality of service and better digital marketing.
With the presence of Instagram, I see people seeking out more specific adventure travels geared toward their exact preferences and away from the standardized bucket list.
In terms of an actual destination, I can see Namibia playing a big role in adventure travel for the North American market. Europeans have been traveling there for years. As one of the safest African countries with ever-changing landscapes, African wildlife, and authentic tribal cultures, Namibia is the most spectacular place for a self-drive overland adventure. I recently organized one for two private clients and will lead another one myself towards the end of 2019.
Leading these kinds of trips is not easy. Why do you do it?I’m still moved by the beauty of the different places where I guide, and seeing how people overcome their inner blockages to reach different physical accomplishments is great. But the most satisfying part for me is witnessing how cross-cultural interactions and experiences — which cannot be staged or planned — open travelers’ eyes toward different ways of life. Especially in times where a lot of people are becoming more extreme in their animosity toward each other, it is great to see how travel can bring together complete strangers from different corners of the world and help them understand each other.
The DetailsAnywhere, Inc.www.anywhere.com