Brace yourself for a healthy adrenaline injection into your travel products.
Adventure is a subjective concept but I expect consensus would have us define it as the desire to get away from ‘normal’, to connect with nature, for the pleasure and pain of physical exertion, and to satisfy the ego. Adventure travellers are looking for opportunities in your region. Identify those potentially dramatic, exotic activities in your location. You can be more than a portal to your destination – understand the guiding principles of adventure travel and become the gateway to adventure.
Understanding the trend
Companies specialising in this trend will say that adventure travel is less about the destination and more about life-affirming experiences. These include hobbies or sports that travellers are already skilled at or want to learn more about, wellness and health considerations, immersion into nature and culture, and the chance to ‘give back’ to the destination they visit.
Pushing their bodies to the limit will be as invigorating to them as learning about the lifestyles and culture of their hosts. They’ll insist on sustaining a positive impact on the people and place, ethically, environmentally and economically.
In appreciation of the wilderness or unique natural site of great beauty where their adventure is playing out, they care about preserving natural resources and conservation initiatives, and will prefer to patronise travel brands that share their values.
But it’s mostly about the action!
The #2 trend for 2017 is active and adventure travel
Adventure goes hand in hand with responsible tourism. The only conditions under which these travellers are prepared to have their adventure in your region, is if there’s clear indication that its natural resources are being protected and developed. Its local communities are considered a vital resource too; so their lifestyles and livelihoods must also be seen to thrive. Tourism bodies and companies need to consult them, train and employ them, and empower their local businesses to earn their fair share of in-destination tourism spending.
Incidentally, a greater portion of tourism spend is retained by local economies with adventure travel, than those of all-inclusive mass tourism destinations. However you plan to implement adventure into your value-add strategies, communicating and adhering to these sustainable values are key. Ultimately, it contributes to the longevity of adventure experiences in your destination.. and potentially means repeat business for you.
What makes an adventure
Nature in all its wild, diverse, unique incarnations, sometimes forbidding but always captivating, invites adventure travellers to test their personal limits, whatever the activity may be.
It challenges their endurance, shows them how small and fragile they are as humans, but still provides opportunities for them to overcome and conquer.
That’s the expectation of controlled danger and element of risk that adventurers crave. Create or facilitate opportunities for your guests to hike, cycle, surf, sail, scale heights (whether from a parachute or mountain top) or swim with sharks.
Make it easier for them to access hard-to-reach areas in your destination for trekking, birding, caving, skiing or scuba diving. Provide the resources they need to explore a nearby forest, jungle, island, volcanic crater, lake, desert or national park.
Get members of your local community involved for their expertise in the terrain, climate, wildlife and vegetation. The potential for adventure is vast.
Adventure travellers need the reassurance that their safety and medical needs will be met, that the expert guiding them on their activities will know their way around as well as what to do in case of emergencies.
So while you don’t necessarily need to run all of these adventure activities yourself, it adds great value to your own business to have the association visible and managed for the convenience of your clients.
The more desirable the natural location and associated adventures, the higher the value of the experience. And it will attract a high value clientele too.
Did you know that the average age of the adventure traveller is reported to be 47 years? According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association the largest group of adventure travellers are between 50 and 70 years old. Female solo travellers feature strongly, as do families travelling in multi-generational groups. It’s a broad demographic that is affluent, educated and generally experienced, although younger budget travellers are also keen adventurers.
They all crave an adrenaline rush.
They want to have fun either with their travel companions or with the new friends they make en route.
They want to connect with and learn about their destination and its local inhabitants.
Direct them to exceptional, boast-worthy photographic opportunities and enable them with memorable, meaningful travel tales to share. They want their adventure to include sampling indigenous food. For that matter, introduce them to any unique cultural aspect that sets their travel experiences apart from what their friends have done.
More than anything though, they need a physical and spiritual release from the monotony of their daily grind.
The market is witnessing a huge popularity of adventure sports as a stress remedy…These outdoor adventures rejuvenate their minds & help them to get back to their mundane lives with the much-needed enthusiasm.
A complete getaway is just what the doctor ordered! Adventurers prefer less crowded destinations precisely because they feel safer and more comfortable; it feels more exclusive than mass tourism. The fewer the visitors, the higher the value, and in turn, the easier to preserve the natural and cultural resources of the destination.
Adventure travellers, especially the backpackers among them tend to stay in a destination for longer than other travellers, so you can expect to benefit from their in-destination spending for longer too. Engage their interest by incorporating adventure activities with your traditional offerings at alternating turns. Give them adventure by day and then some pampering by night in the comfort of their own room!
Adventure in the morning, followed by a sumptuous, lazy dinner in your restaurant. Or even a night time activity for variety, paired with more relaxing on-site options during the day. Conservation activities and visits with locals are always going to resonate with these travellers.
What’s great about most of these activities is you can plan them all year round depending on what’s available or what would work well in the season at hand.
Adventurers need you to warn them against calamitous weather conditions and their repercussions, but they definitely won’t mind getting a bit muddy if it rains.
Obviously, if you’re going to offer certain activities directly from your premises, you’ll have to ensure you’re able to provide practical information on where to go, where not to go, and the right equipment into the bargain.
Offer the services of a professional guide to accompany your solo travellers and those with no experience of your area. You can incorporate your adventure add-ons into a special over the right period and sell to special interest travellers.
Bringing adventure into your market space
If you’re going to create or facilitate opportunities for the adventurers among your clients to have those exciting transformative experiences, it needs to be showcased smartly, shown off socially and amplified with some choice UGC. You have the option of joining social sharing communities of adventure travellers. Those that have adventure coursing through their veins tend to be quite vocal and willing to advocate for your brand to other similar travellers.
Or you can build your own community around adventure with some of these already widely used #hashtags.
Endorse ecological, environmental or cultural initiatives in your community and partner with your host communities to conduct programmes that your clients could potentially get involved in. Whether you monetise these programmes or offer them included in the cost of your core product(s), or make it gratis, it’ll still be a win-win situation for everyone involved. In fact, you could invite donations directly payable to the local initiatives to show your care and interest in the community, and your willingness to conduct your business on their doorstep with sustainability in mind.
Without pristine natural environments & meaningful cultural experiences, their destination would lose its competitiveness, & tourists would go somewhere else.
Build adventure into your brand as a value-add especially if you’re able to offer an experience that would be considered unusual for your destination – that’s what adventurers like.
Being able to say they’ve done something so unique and unexpected in an area typically known for something else, will speak directly to the ego. You show off what you can offer, they’ll show off to the world what they’ve done; and tag you along on social media.
Use that dramatic language in your descriptions and get your stylised photographs, videos and virtual tours into your sales and marketing material.
Make it all accessible on your website and get the word out. Great pics of your room types and amenities aren’t enough – that’s just a third of the experience you offer. Activities and service are super vital components!
Ensure your staff are clued up on adventure activities in your region so they can advise on them and provide valuable practical information – an adventure concierge service would be a great touch to win over the hearts of your adventure-inclined guests.
Basically, don’t just leave it to your guest to do all the research and make all the arrangements themselves; make adventure easier for them to access.
Find the adventure where you’re based. Adventurers are serious about the adventures they choose to go on, so be authentic and sincere. At the end of the day, your adventure traveller is easy to please: get their blood pumping, their senses heightened; their muscles aching! And offer them a piece of natural paradise on earth to do it in. Reward will be in the achievement and the safe knowledge that they could perhaps return one day and do even better.