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Spread the word: It pays to listen. For family-owned and -operated adventure travel operator Austin Adventures, this has proven especially true for 2018.
The award-winning outfitter is experiencing double-digit growth this year — and 60 percent of that is because of return clients and their friends.
“A growing list of loyal alumni is pounding the Austin Adventures drum loud and clear,” said Dan Austin, the outfitter’s president. “Think of a wildfire gaining energy from itself.
Add to that, we have a proven track record of listening and responding to our guests.”
Part of that has included launching The Austin Collection this summer, a portfolio of luxury properties curated by Austin and his wife, Carol. And as Austin Adventures gears up for 2019, it has added new hiking and multisport itineraries, as well as expanded its small-ship adventure cruising itineraries.
We spoke to Austin to find out more.
What itinerary are you most excited about launching or expanding?Bringing back dedicated hiking programs is exciting. Our roots in the early days were in dedicated hiking (or biking) trips, and we have always held on to a few. Listening to our alumni, the demand for the classic hiking or walking trip just grew to the point where we couldn’t ignore it. Don’t get me wrong, multisport is always going to be our trademark strong suite, but hiking is ingrained in our DNA. On a specific trip note, the new Azores Adventure has been in the works a long time, and as we pull it all together, Carol and I have decided it is a must-do — thus, it’s now on our own personal radar for the coming season.
What are some trends you’re seeing in custom itineraries?Guests are often open-minded and looking to us as the experts (which we are) and trusting in our judgment. They may have dates and a rough idea where they want to go, plus their own bucket-list items, but they are all about letting us do our thing and craft the perfect vacation. Nothing fits better than a handmade, tailored suit, right?
Tell me more about how you and Carol curated your list for The Austin Collection and how you expect it to elevate the company overall.We visit and evaluate so many properties each year that we found ourselves ranking them internally. A handful really stood out as exceptional. We then realized we were making these lodging recommendations to many of our travelers, either pre- and/or post-trip with us. Using The Resort at Paws Up right here in Montana as an example, we found ourselves either incorporating the property into custom adventures or helping guests add on to our scheduled departures. We simply decided it was time to add guidelines and closer working relationships to help with seamless execution.
What’s next for Austin Adventures?As we grow, we have made the conscious decision to not lose our attention to detail and the overall customer experience. Every guest gets both my and Carol’s cell number before a trip and are encouraged to call 24/7 for any reason (even if it is as fun as the 70-year-old gentleman that called Monday night to brag that he did the ziplining on our Montana Adventure). Past that, we are working diligently on improving the customer journey from the first call through the booking process. Stay tuned: Some really cutting-edge projects and systems are in the works.
The DetailsAustin Adventureswww.austinadventures.com