Adventure Travel Conference shows strong growth
Adventure operators, tourist boards and agents gathered for a new trade conference recently, with TTG as media partner. Research presented at the inaugural Adventure Travel Conference indicates strong growth in the sector last year.
Almost three quarters of the 59 adventure operators completing the survey reported that they took more bookings in 2013 than 2012, while 61% saw average customer expenditure increase in 2013.
The outlook for 2014 is also rosy, with 56% of consumers saying they intend to travel more this year.
Wanderlust magazine, the Adventure Travel Show and TTG generated survey responses from 1,100 consumers, 59 tour operators, 18 tourist boards and six travel agencies.
The research was presented at the Adventure Travel Conference, a new one-day trade event at London Olympia, taking place immediately before the two-day Adventure Travel Show for consumers.
Other findings of the survey included an indication that lead-time has crept back up to between three and four months before departure, having decreased to two to three months at the height of the recession, and that financial protection was very important to consumers.
Consumer responses showed print media was key in researching trips, with 48% of consumers saying travel magazines pushed them online. Social media performed surprisingly poorly, with almost half of respondents saying they would not be inclined to respond to a trip promoted on social media.
Tourism consultant David Symes warned adventure operators should not “dumb down” to clients: “You’re targeting a discerning audience and it takes a bit more than fancy pictures. Don’t think that if they like it on Facebook that actually means something.”
Increasingly specialised tours, highlighted food and drink-themed tours and cycling holidays are growth areas for 2014, according to Ashley Toft, managing director of Explore. Burma has also become one of Explore’s top-selling destinations, with “those currently unable to visit the Middle East visiting south-east Asia instead”.
[pictured: TTG’s Pippa Jacks (left) chairs a discussion on agents and adventure travel]