Adventure Travel giving TL Network members an edge
(Photo above: TL Network Canada’s Christine James (l) with Manulife’s Dan Martell and Shelley Kopys)
Considered an untapped revenue stream, TL Network agents are witnessing growth in this growing adventure travel segment.
According to a joint survey released last month at the Edge Conference from the Travel Leaders Group/Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the biggest decision maker behind the tidal wave of bookings is the female traveller. Try 64% of them.
And that certainly puts an end to the misconception of the macho male in the adventure travel space vying for white-water rafting and other hard adventure adrenalin boosters. In fact, now included in the mix are soft adventure, the unique, the novel, even foodies for local culinary experiences.
“We wanted to hear from our agents on what they thought of this space,” starts Perry Lungmus, vice-president for Travel Leaders Network who is also an ATTA advisory board member alongside Russell Walters, North America strategic director of ATTA who relayed at the media briefing in Las Vegas that, while adventure travel still makes up a small percentage of overall business, 86% of them had reported seeing business grow over the past three years.
The first adventure travel-seller benchmark survey polling leisure-selling travel agents specializing in active and adventure sales in partnership with ATTA has indicated several shifts in the evolution of adventure travel, starting with the definition.
Adventure travel is now defined as trips that involve at least two of the three following elements:
- Interacting with nature
- Physical activity
- Cultural exchange – everything from hiking and cycling to expedition cruises and safaris
“When we interact with nature there is some sort of physical activity and cultural exchange. This is the condition of adventure travel,” says Walters adding, over the past two years, clients and markets are emphasizing transformational experiences which include local impact, wellness and the manner in which they are travelling, in addition to the main features of challenges and adventure.
On the agents side, TL Network is encouraging members to complete the active and adventure travel specialist certification which company data reveals results in two times more lead generation on the company’s proprietary program, Agent Profiler 2.0.
“It’s super important when taking people out in the wide world of adventure. It’s critical getting the right people at the right places at the right time,” says Lugmus and further adds, “Many travel agents are missing out on a huge opportunity by not selling adventure travel.”
Tools to sell
“Travel Leaders agents are particularly well-positioned to move into the adventure travel arena between the Travel Leaders’ Active & Adventure Travel Specialist Program and our exclusive partnership with ATTA and involvement in many of their international events. We have all the tools available to help them become adventure specialists and begin benefitting from this highly lucrative and growing segment,” he observes.
Nearly a quarter of adventure travel agents in the TL Network
report a booking of US$5,000 per person a year. “That is exclusive of air,” adds Lungmus.
For active adveture bookings between US$3,000-$5,000 per person, 33% of the organization’s travel agents surveyed reported securing bookings in this revenue category.
Leading TL Network’s
top 10 adventure travel bookings based on categories defined by the ATTA are cultural tours and hiking- walking-trekking followed by Culinary-foodie bookings.
“Some of the surprises for us were snorkelling and scuba diving,” he says on the third-place active adventure contender.
Meanwhile, small ship expedition cruises nets the top five surpassing sea kayaking and kayak touring which dives into the sixth spot. Whitewater rafting plunges to the bottom ninth.
For annual growth rate, ATTA consumer research has shown a 44% growth in revenue generated over an eight-year period in this evolving travel segment.
For instance, in 2009, adventure travel was only an US$89-billion industry, but in 2017, the segment reaped US$683 billion.
Currently, the survey reports 30% of global tourism spending is on adven-ture spending.
Opportunities to earn
“Commission opportunities for our agents are significant, a segment they can make good business on,” concludes John Lovell, CTC, president of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group.
The survey indicates that adventure travellers are booking a mix of pre-organized tour operator packages and customized independent trips with neither category strongly leading the other.
At the trade show, On The Go Tours, an escorted adventure travel company in Canada for 10 years and which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has seen a surge in bookings, thanks in part to membership in TL Network Canada.
“TL Network helps us fine-tune where we should put our marketing dollars, which has been very helpful to us,” notes Mike Quinto, director of sales at On The Go Tours based in Whitby, Ontario, on his company which features, “exciting days and comfortable nights.”
Hotel category ranges are from three-star to five-star properties. Some recent top product sellers include the new Spain, Portugal and Italy itineraries which are “very boutique products.”
“Wineries, fromageries, making sure you are getting the cultural experience. Of course, the main highlights you come to see like the Grand Canal in Venice and then localizing it with stays like at Lake Como for two nights,” he says of this higher end Italy seven-day group tour product.
On The Go Tours can
start as low as under $800 for trip itineraries such as a short independent three-day Agra and The Taj Mahal India tour from $750 per person or an eight-day Egypt Felucca Explorer to Luxor, from $695 per person with 15% agent commissions.
Quinto concurs: “The adventure touring market is growing by leaps and bounds. The world is becoming smaller, and people are wanting to travel to the different destinations.”