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What characteristics do you believe next generation(s) of adventure travelers have?

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The industry also is experiencing shifts in the next generation(s) of travelers. The way in which these travelers decide on their holidays, the way in which they book, their evolving demands and expectations, etc., are changing dramatically. These travelers seem to want freedom, spontaneity, and ownership of their own schedules. They appear to be less interested in group travel and less inclined to book things in advance, preferring to make purchase decisions on-the-go or at least very last minute. In addition, the “boomer” generation, upon which a large portion of today’s industry has been built, will grow older and the average age of tour operators’ clients will continue to rise.

imageJames Thornton, Managing Director of Intrepid Travel

“There are two parts to my answer. The second part discusses the Boomer generation, we like to call these customers Zoomers as they still want to travel and experience local cultures but they often prefer a softer bed at the end of the day. We have been expanding our Comfort style of trips specifically to meet the demands of this target market. I don’t agree with the first observation, while there will always be customers who like to do-it-their-self, I strongly believe that there is a growing amount of customers that want an authentic cultural experience but do not have the time to organize the details of a trip nor do they want to risk their safety and comfort. If anything we have seen that customers who have travelled independently start to look for small group travel as their careers and family life pick up (I am an example of this). We design our trips so that there is a strong element of freedom and flexibility built in. There is always time set aside in the day to explore a destination on your own terms. Furthermore families are just starting to catch on that organized small groups are a great alternative to all-inclusives so I think there is a bright future for small group adventure travel.”

imageRobin Weber Pollak, President of JOURNEYS International

“The rising generation of adventure travelers have grown up knowing that the other side of the world is accessible. They don’t see travel to India as inherently exotic, so they want a trip that provides off-the-map experiences that will make great stories even for their savviest peers. They want to go the places they hear their friends talk about, but have unique experiences that belong to them and them alone. To make that happen, they want greater transparency and extreme control over their own itinerary and their own experience.”

imageManfred Häupl, of Germany’s Hauser Exkursionen

“The next generation is much better informed and they want to co-create their trip. A new study in Germany showed that while the younger generation doesn’t use travel agents anymore, they believe that agents are more competent and experienced [dealing with travel information online]. If the agents can [adapt] with this situation they still will be needed as a transmitter to make the decision secure. What the internet cannot provide is trust in online offers, security, purchases… It takes much more time to design your own trip and you have too many choices. The baby boomers will be also a ‘next generation’ for adventure travel but with different needs like more comfort, softer activities, free days, good food, etc.”

imageGert Nieuwboer, CEO of SNP Natuurreizen

“In my opinion freedom is the key issue for the next generation. No longer do they want to book their adventure trip far in advance and completely organized. They don’t want to know now what they will be doing six month later. They want to decide ‘on the spot’. If the weather is bad, they want to stay inside, if the weather is good, they might feel like going for a MTB ride. They are multi-activity orientated. And quite rapidly bored, as well. They like meeting other adventure travelers and the things that they do have to be ‘sound’ (sustainable).”

imageAlexandra Greenwood, Head of Sales of HF Holidays Ltd.

“Quick last minute decisions, to find the next new thing, to get off the beaten track, to be unique, to really connect into the culture, to contact local suppliers directly, to be independent, to share adventures with immediacy and globally.”

imageJorge Pérez of Tierra del Volcan

“One of the biggest differences is how information is so easy to find with the new technology. This creates travelers that know more of what a destination can offer and have a more clear idea of what they want from their trip. Also, some visitors will reduce buying certain products, like a city tour, because they could get a lot of the information that a guide could provide through their mobile devices.”

imageMaria Elena Price, Co-Owner of ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours

“I believe the next generation of travelers will be a combination of people who want to be informed and don’t like the idea of ‘mass travel’ and who likely travel quite a bit. Since they started to travel rather early I think they will know what they are looking for, and that includes more ‘real’ local experiences and some will realize that although they can do this on their own, they will know it takes work. This means that companies who organize trips will have to make sure that the experiences they deliver are genuine and unique. There is also an element of ‘customization’ that the newer generations will look for – this is partially due to the greater amount of choice they have available because they can research and learn about so much on their own via the internet. This customization can be difficult for companies though as it is much less cost effective. So although there will be a place for organized travel, there will be less of a place I believe for mass group travel that doesn’t involve some of the personalization these new travelers look for.”

imageJimena Barrera, AMERICAS Division Manager of Condor Travel

“Being part of the “next generation” of travelers I definitely agree that we decide on our own schedules. Group travelling will need more off-the-beaten paths programs, interest based optionals, and tons of flexibility! Our business sees more smaller groups and programs that are customized to fit what the traveler wants to ultimately get from their trip!”

imageAndy Levine, President & Founder of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.

“Health and fitness, imagination. Less food, more exercise, connected with technology. Shorter more intense trips.”

 

imageDan Austin, Director of Austin-Lehman Adventures

“With all due respect, these are pretty general and high level (40,000 ft.) statements. Since there is no real ‘set’ protocol for what is Adventure Travel, the product and how it is offered and booked can range drastically. From what we can see the Adventure Traveler today seems to want more authentic experiences. They want to understand the impact of their travels and engage with the ‘locals.’ Seems to be more separation now between Adventure Travel and Active Travel… these two products are seeing different end users with different goals and needs.”

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