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Travel advisors excel at masterfully advising their clients on the most romantic or family-friendly destinations. They help clients home in on the perfect wellness getaway or bachelor party hot spot.
Adventure travelers also have desires and expectations for their ideal vacation experiences. In order to capture this intrepid and growing market, agents should sharpen their skills on how to recommend the best adventure travel experiences.
Unlike some types of travelers, those falling under the “adventure” umbrella often conduct their own research and may spontaneously sign up for activities while on vacation. Even though these clients may not book experiences in a traditional way, advisors can take an active role in their enjoyment and well-being by advising them on features that signal superior tour operators.
Defining High-Quality OperatorsWhat makes one adventure experience better than another? The key quality differentiator that sets a tour operator apart from the competition is caring for clients, including careful attention to safety. Whether booking an experience directly or advising adventure travelers so they can do it themselves, an advisor should be equipped with the right questions to ask and information on what to look for when selecting a tour operator; this will elevate an experience from potentially problematic to phenomenal.
When looking for adventure providers, check that they are licensed or certified. Professional associations exist for many niche activities, such as whitewater rafting and mountain biking, and these associations often have certification standards. Beyond certifications, look for memberships or affiliations the tour operator has that speaks to best practices. For example, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) members agree to the association’s values statement, which notes they will “conduct business with safety, honesty and integrity,” as well as agree to ethics guidelines outlined by the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. It’s also acceptable to ask companies if and when their guides have participated in guide training and basic first-aid and CPR training.
Trends Leading to the Sector’s Growth Understanding what safety features set a high-quality adventure experience apart is important in today’s tourism environment. If current projections are accurate, adventure travel will continue to carve out an ever-increasing slice of the tourism pie.
From ziplining and whitewater rafting to long-distance hiking and cycling in remote corners of the globe, a wide spectrum of activities are available for today’s adventure travelers. It’s not only adventure tourism’s expansive definition that naturally leads to a huge pool of travelers; several trends are already impacting the growth of this burgeoning tourism sector.
Recent research by the ATTA indicates that there has been an increase in solo travelers, many of whom are eager to sign on to group tours in order to meet like-minded travelers. People are seeking experiences that allow them to interact with locals — an important and meaningful aspect of community-based travel — which means they may be inclined to travel to more isolated parts of a destination. Furthermore, a demand for transformative experiences may push travelers beyond their comfort zones as they seek personal growth and change. When participating in these experiences, they need to know they’re in good, safe hands.
Though adventure travel doesn’t necessarily equate to taking risks, trending non-technical activities also point to the importance of safe practices. An uptick in trail tourism means more travelers are experiencing destinations on foot or by cycling between local communities — which, again, may be in remote areas on unpolished pathways. An increase in demand for winter products has an added element of extreme weather, which can also increase risk.
And, simply speaking, the increase in the number of adventure travelers itself is reason enough to seek out tour companies operating under safe and carefully considered best practices. As more visitors embark on adventure activities for the first time, their minimal experience elevates the need for safety requirements.
Travel Advisors on the Front LineAs adventure travel continues to blossom, agents have an important and pivotal position. There are countless choices for potential clients to make, and whether they lean on advisors for booking or advice, it’s these very agents who hold the key to information that travelers need to get the most out of their next great adventure.
The DetailsAdventure Travel Trade Associationwww.adventuretravel.biz