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For 50 years, MT Sobek (formerly Mountain Travel Sobek) paved the way for the adventure travel market with innovative experiences ranging from backcountry expeditions to wellness experiences. Kimberly Daley, president and CEO, reveals what to expect this year.
What MT Sobek experience stands out to you?This year, we’re offering a 50th Anniversary Everest Base Camp Trek, which speaks to our heritage, because that’s where MT Sobek began. Legendary guides are returning to lead these trips, so it’s exciting for returnees and first-timers alike. Guests certainly need to train, but we’ve hired a personal trainer to help travelers prepare for this bucket-list adventure of a lifetime. The 20-day trip begins at a rate of $6,695 per person.
Can you tell us about the 50 Stories for 50 Years Campaign? We started by collecting stories from our own staff and guides about their amazing travel adventures with MT Sobek, and now we’re reaching out and asking our guests to do the same. This isn’t supposed to be nerve-wracking — some people write about a feeling or a moment in time. We’ve received phenomenal stories, and we can’t wait to read more. Between now and March 31, advisors and clients can submit a story of up to 800 words on our website. In April, we’ll choose a winner. The prize is any MT Sobek trip for two.
What do you recommend to every traveler?River-rafting trips. During our Cataract Canyon adventure, kids can kayak while grandparents relax in a canoe in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Our Rafts & Draft trip is ideal for adults seeking to recharge. They’ll spend most of the trip rafting the Salmon River in Idaho with a brew in hand. For the all-around intrepid traveler, our founders, Richard Bangs and John Yost, will lead a trip on the Sayan Oka River in Siberia.
How will MT Sobek embrace adventure travel as the industry continues to transform? As the meaning of adventure travel has evolved, we have, too. Some people find engaging with a new culture to be extremely adventurous, while others seek to sample food and wine in local communities. Casual travelers are seeking broader offerings, and so we’ve expanded our products, and now, we rate our trips on a scale of one to five in terms of difficulty.
We’ve also released more than 60 new trips, most of which focus on untouched destinations. For example, we’re headed to Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon and Israel, and all of our trips are led by experienced guides from the region, so they know how to navigate the ins and outs of the destinations.
How has MT Sobek focused on diversifying its offerings? Family travel is important, and in fact, 30 percent of our trips are booked by families. One major development is that kids are leading the way. For instance, one day my daughter decided that she wanted to go the Red Panda, so she looked it up online, and to this day, she continues to ask when we’re going to Nepal to see the pandas. As a company, we’ve created trips for a wide range of families, which include trips for 6-, 9-, and 13-year-olds and up.
On the other hand, solo-travel is also trending. People want to prove they can make it on their own, or simply get away and come back refreshed. We’ve made it possible for every solo traveler to bunk with a buddy so that they don’t have to pay for a single supplement. This makes solo travel more affordable, and it creates a natural environment to bond with a fellow traveler.
Then there’s wellness travel. It’s the third-largest segment in the industry, but it’s very personal and often, people don’t know how to define it. We define wellness travel as we always have: to be one with nature in the outdoors. To that end, we’ve added a series of wellness-oriented trips that incorporate mediation, yoga and healthy eating.
Women travelers are particularly interested in wellness travel, and we see a lot of mother-daughter duos and solo female travelers. We’ve also created women’s adventures that focus on goal-orientation, but more than anything, they emphasize camaraderie and being with like-minded women of all ages.
How can travel advisors get involved? Developing relationships with travel advisors is paramount to MT Sobek’s continued success. We’ve expanded our team to support custom trips in the Western U.S. and Peru. We also offer fam trips and host outdoor gatherings where advisors can network, meet industry professionals and enjoy a short, active adventure. The only way to receive news about fam trips and gatherings is if advisors subscribe to MT Sobek’s monthly newsletter.
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