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Adventure Travel Partnerships Driving Down Marketing Costs

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Assistant Editor’s Note: This article, by Charlie Lunan, was originally published in the Outdoor Industry Association WebNews, and is posted here with their permission.

Outdoor brands looking to stretch their marketing budgets are making great progress by collaborating with the adventure travel industry.

The increasing collaboration was in full view at the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) Adventure Hub at Outdoor Retailer earlier this month. ATTA highlighted marketing partnerships between Belize and Ex-Officio, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Eagle Creek, Mexico and Outdoor Retailer and Fjord Norway and Hummingbird, the first luggage line designed by Cascade Designs specifically for the adventure travel market. The brands offered raffle tickets for a free trip to their partner destination to dealers who visited their booths and celebrated the winners at an end-of-day drawing party.

Behind the scenes, more than 70 outfitters, tour agencies and other ATTA members conducted more than 60 meetings with gear, apparel and accessory brands during the show to discuss partnership opportunities, said ATTA President Shannon Stowell.

While the Adventure Hub focused on overseas destinations this year, many forward thinking brands got started by partnering with U.S. outfitters and destinations close-to-home to share costs for photo and video shoots and even sweepstakes promotions.

Last year, Ex-Officio partnered with Trout Unlimited, Seattle-based Evergreen Escapes and activists in Alaska to launch “Save Bristol Bay.” The campaign collected emails through a sweepstakes promotion that offered a four day/three night trip for two to a hunting lodge in 2012. Winners will meet Alaska natives, commercial fishermen and other locals working to prevent construction of Pebble Mine, a massive mining operation that threatens the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s rich salmon fishery.

The promotion allowed Ex-Officio to get in front of Trout Unlimited’s 140,000 members, capture new emails and generate content for its social media outlets. Importantly, it appealed to Ex-Officio’s existing customers, who have been shown through research to harbor a deep concern for the environment, said Chris Hugo, director of marketing of Seattle-based Ex-Officio.

“Partnering is a fantastic way to focus on conservation, preserving the environment we like to play in and come up with the newest content to engage with those followers,” said Hugo. “We really need to align with hardgoods companies and adventure travel companies who can contribute.”

To celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, Ex-Officio has outfitted guides at Montana’s Austin Lehman Adventures. In exchange, the guides will appear in Ex-Officio marketing materials and contribute product reviews.

At Osprey, Director of Marketing Gareth Martins says he saved thousands of dollars last year by partnering with the Montana Office of Tourism in Osprey’s first-ever such partnership.  During a one-week outing organized and hosted by the state’s public relations firm, a photographer chosen by Martins shot thousands of images of Martins and two Osprey athletes skiing and climbing in the backcountry. Martins said he liked the arrangement because he was able to name the photographer. Martins was so impressed with the results that he is now in discussions with several overseas destinations about collaborating on a much larger project.

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity for smaller brands,” Martins said of the 2010 project, which yielded content for the company’s website, catalogs and other collateral. ”If we had not worked a partnership with Montana, the costs would have been significantly greater.”

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