002: Waypoint- Your January 2018 Adventure Travel Business update

January 17, 2018

Show Notes

Shannon Stowell of The Adventure Travel Trade Association, Chez Chesak of Tracks and Trails and Tim McGuire of Eagle Creek talk about:

some of the best things that happened in 2017

how 2017 ended up, will it go down as a good or bad year

what they are excited about for 2018

Notes from Shannon:

Analysis on 2017 Adventure Business

Adventure travel businesses continued to thrive in 2017.

  • 73% of operators responding to our Industry Snapshot were forecasting higher profits for 2017 over 2016. About 40% of them said the reason for the growth in business was ‘new customers’

  • This also points to one of the most pressing topics for our industry going forward, which is destination management and traveler education. ‘Overtourism’ and sustainability are a concern our companies and destination members are thinking a lot about. Even if ‘too many’ tourists seems like a far off problem for some places, it is now coming to the forefront for countries emphasizing adventure travel development in their economic growth plans.

Best Things that Happened in 2017

  • We got more refined in our understanding of adventure traveler motivations and by comparing survey research from 2007 with new work conducted in 2016, and discovered that a driving motivation for travelers is personal growth, learning, and ultimately often ‘transformation’. This yearning, seeking, is really what continues to drive our industry forward. We have something magical to offer that people need.

  • Adventure businesses around the world continued to innovate for the benefit of the environment and communities. ATTA and a group of other adventure companies established the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund in 2016 and in 2017 the first set of global projects received funding.

  • We got serious about quantifying our industry’s benefits. It was discovered by researchers working in Jordan, that for every dollar generated in the mainstream tourism sector, adventure travel will drive five times more revenue towards local communities than mainstream tourism. The recently formalized Jordan Trail, as an example of adventure tourism, is expected by economists to generate $7.3M total revenue per year, with 65 percent remaining in the local economy. (SS note- this may not sound like a lot of revenue but when you look at the average income of a Jordanian- $635/year and many of those in the nether reaches are below the average, this is significant- roughly a third of the population live in poverty at least part of the year and this # was before the massive influx of refugees) Researchers compare this with Dead Sea tourism, as represented by hotel complexes which provide all services on-site: while these resorts bring in an estimated $101M in revenue per year, only 14 percent remains with local communities.

    • So doing the math:

      • 65% of 7.3M = 4.7mm (equivalent of 7400 average salaries)

      • 14% of 101M = 14 mm

What Businesses Are Excited About for 2018:

  • There’s a lot of talk about new technologies and the ways in which they are altering the travel landscape. Augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence… we have showcased some of these experiences at our events. Alongside of this however, it is also recognized that the quest for ‘real reality’, authentic experiences, real experiences is a major trend that is impacting all industries. (https://futurereport.schibsted.com/wp-content/themes/schibsted-futurereport/downloads/schibsted-future-report-2018.pdf). Adventure businesses are excited about taking a Whole Experience approach to their trips, designing experiences with more intentionality and considering how all the elements of a trip fit together to deliver a full experience to travelers. With all the technology also comes a strand of interest in digital detoxification on trips and adventure travel offers this.

  • Asian outbound markets. Adventure travel businesses accustomed to serving the dominant markets of North America and Western Europe are gearing up for asian travelers. Although these are not the dominant adventure travel source markets now, travelers from Asian countries are on a trajectory to have a significant influence on the adventure tourism sector just as they have other tourism sectors.

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