More than 140 adventure travel professionals attended these four events, enjoying networking opportunities, presentations by local subject matter experts and industry updates by Chris Chesak, ATTA Executive Director of North America and Oceania. Chesak presented the latest on ATTA member benefits and initiatives, industry trends and developments with the Adventure Travel World Summit.
ATTA’s ‘East Coast Tour’ started with Toronto, where nearly 20 attendees convened in meeting space provided by Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures. After the ATTA update, attendees enjoyed a talk by Scott Adams of Birchbark Media on social media strategies, then gear giveaways by Columbia and Hummingbird, and finally adjourned to a local pub for continued networking.
When asked about the Toronto event, Jillian Dickens, cofounder of Bannikin said, “I learn something new, reconnect with someone I’ve not seen in awhile and meet someone I’ve never met before at every AdventureConnect I’ve ever attended. This last Connect in Toronto was a succinct industry update, a whack-load of excellent marketing tips, and a party all wrapped up in a nice package.”
Chesak then immediate jetted off to New York City, for an AdventureConnect at the REI store in Soho. His presentation was followed by a lively round-robin discussion of industry trends (including disintermediation, couponing and content development) and then a social activity sponsored by National Geographic Traveler. More than 30 attendees were there.
“The Adventure Connects are perfect for getting reacquainted with colleagues as well as meeting new ones. At the New York Connect we had ATTA tour operators join us from Montana, Maine and Iceland; contacts and potential business you might not meet otherwise,” said Kathryn Monaco of ARP Safaris and Springbok Atlas. She also added, “The take away value is great and being able to brainstorm with colleagues in various capacities in the industry, you find you leave the Connects with new ideas and information that gets you excited – and gets the creative juices flowing.”
John Campbell of National Geographic Traveler also noted, “The Connect was a great place to hear about industry trends, challenges and bounce best practices off each other. We are already looking forward to seeing our friends in the industry at the next gathering.”
After a brief respite at home, Chesak was back on the road with a quick trip to Washington DC. More than 30 industry members were there, enjoying a tour of WWF’s green roof, then a presentation at the WWF headquarters. Chesak’s presentation was followed by one by Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, Managing Director of WWF’s Species Conservation Program, on the role of sustainable tourism in conservation, which then spurred a long question and answer session.
Ralph Hammelbacher, Vice President of Expedition Development for Lindblad Expeditions noted, “[The Connect] was a chance to step back, to ponder some vitally important questions raised by an excellent speaker and to meet some extraordinarily interesting people I didn’t know were in my own back yard.”
Next Chesak was off to the outdoor adventure playground of Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson’s tourism board is a recent member of the ATTA and they were interested in having their own Connect to start to bring together the local adventure travel trade community. Chesak’s trip included meetings with local operators, a mixer with Jackson Chamber of Commerce members, meetings with local officials and a tour of local properties.
The Connect event, held within the stately lodge pole Bentwood Inn and with food and drinks sponsored by Montana’s Austin-Lehman Adventures, brought together 30 local operators, accommodations, sustainability experts, nonprofits, education institutions and local tourism officials.
Chesak’s presentation veered away from other presentations to focus more on the Adventure Travel World Summit, as Jackson considers hosting the event in the future. Topics discussed in Jackson included the economic benefit of hosting 650 Summit Delegates, editorial media placements for the host destination, Summit programming and event requirements.
“It’s great to see Jackson considering becoming the first US destination to take a real leadership position within the ATTA’s global network,” noted Keith Sproule, proprietor of the Bentwood Inn (Sproule is also a WWF employee who was instrumental in securing the Summit bid for Namibia). “This is an outdoor paradise, with the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, just up the road, and another, Grand Teton National Park, just on the other side. It’s a fantastic place for a Summit, where numerous outdoor adventure opportunities abound, within a region committed to conservation and sustainability. Jackson’s passionate, committed, energized adventure travel community is ready to take a run a hosting the Summit and telling the story of Jackson’s conservation efforts to the entire adventure travel industry.”
The ATTA’s west coast AdventureConnect series includes events in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Boulder, Colorado in April. Click here http://www.adventuretravel.biz/events/type/adventureconnect/ for information on those events and how you can participate.