From February through April 2021, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) surveyed adventure accommodations around the globe to learn more about their current business status and outlook as the industry begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some in the industry were damaged beyond repair, many others are emerging from a type of cocoon, ready to accept the new reality, incorporate the lessons learned during the crisis, and move forward in a more authentic and sustainable way.
One thing that became apparent during this process was that adventure accommodations encompass a unique blend of lodging, food and beverage, and activities. This diversity means they face special challenges, especially when it comes to technology. The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) therefore partnered with Flywire, a strong supporter of our industry that focuses on reducing payment costs and improving guest experience, to learn more about what adventure accommodations need at this time and how they fit into the broader adventure travel community.
One piece of good news is that 40% of respondents expect their 2021 room revenue to be similar to or higher than their pre-COVID 2019 revenue:
It also became clear that the unique needs of adventure accommodations and their guests are not being met. For example, to schedule and manage their on-property activities, over half of the survey respondents are using word processing or spreadsheet software, or pencil and paper. Similarly, 20% of respondents use a paper calendar or a spreadsheet software for rate and inventory management.
Since today’s travelers are looking for streamlined and automated booking solutions, new technological solutions that are user-friendly and effective need to be developed in a way that is affordable and accessible. This is represented in the survey results and anecdotal evidence that we at ATTA often hear from accommodations and other members of our industry.
Other key findings from the report include:
- Approximately two-thirds of respondents’ revenue came from their rooms, with 15% from food and beverage, and 13% from activities.
- On average, half of all guests do the free and unguided activities offered by an adventure accommodation. Almost half also enjoy the guided activities. However, participation in paid and unguided activities (e.g., where equipment rental is required) is not very popular.
- Almost half of respondents’ guests book their complete activity itinerary before arriving. The next most popular method is to book on-demand after arrival.
- Tripadvisor, Expedia, Hotels.com, Airbnb, and Booking.com are the most popular OTAs used by adventure accommodations.
Similarly, respondents accept a wide variety of payment methods from their guests. For adventure accommodations and others that are interested in reducing their payment costs and improving their guest experience, Flywire is offering all ATTA members a free travel payments assessment—just click flywire.com/assessment.
In addition to the need for improved technology, another key finding was that paid and unguided activities (e.g., where equipment rental is required) are not very popular with guests. Compared to around half of all guests that do the free unguided activities, a much lower 8% partake in the paid unguided activities. This can be a revenue-generating area that may need some additional marketing, on-property awareness, or expansion of tools like self-guided tours.
Additional comments in the survey responses and anecdotal feedback from the ATTA community also demonstrate a need for more networking and business development opportunities for adventure accommodations. This type of activity also is helpful for other organizations in the industry that can benefit from partnering with these accommodations. Look for more information and events from ATTA facilitating this type of networking opportunity in the second half of 2021.
Overall, the adventure travel market is beginning to rebound, and bookings are returning. Although this report includes responses from only a sampling of adventure accommodations around the world, the ATTA team has done our best to stay connected to our community over this very difficult past year, and the findings match what we have been hearing as well. Our hope is that technology providers will see this report and develop products that fit the varied needs of the diverse adventure accommodation market, and that our community will soon be thriving again.
To learn more about the findings of this report, and the technology available to make global payments easier, join ATTA and Flywire for a free webinar June 28, 2021 at 1:00pm Eastern Time.