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Adventure Travel Rapidly Expanding with Huge Earnings Potential for Travel Agents, According to New Survey

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Joint Survey Conducted by Travel Leaders Group and the Adventure Travel Trade Association Reveals Variety of New Data on Adventure Travel Market

Adventure travel is not just for the under 40 set nor the exclusive domain of experienced adventure enthusiasts anymore — and the majority of those booking adventure travel are spending significant money on one-week or longer trips, according to newly released survey results.

Conducted by Travel Leaders Group, one of the country’s largest travel agency companies, in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), which is a global authority on adventure travel, the survey results were unveiled today during Travel Leader’s annual international conference, EDGE (Educate, Discover, Gather, Evolve), taking place in Las Vegas.
The survey, which is the first of a planned annual benchmarking of travel agent active and adventure sales in partnership with ATTA, was conducted among leisure-selling travel agents, primarily those who specialize in adventure travel. While adventure travel still makes up a small percentage of their overall business mix, 86% of the respondents indicated they’ve experienced growth in their adventure travel sales over the past three years. Also of note, the number of respondents who reported that the average age of their adventure travel clients falls into the 29-40 age range versus 41-50 age range differed by only one percentage point, and a healthy 22 percent of respondents indicated the average age of their adventure clients falls into the 51-60 age bracket.

The survey also revealed that 65 percent of survey respondents stated the majority of their adventure travel business involves trips of seven to 10 days in length and another 21 percent are most commonly booking journeys of 11 days or longer. From a pricing standpoint, 30 percent of respondents said clients are spending $2000-3000 per person on average; another 33 percent cited an average spend of between $3000-5000 per person and 22.5 percent indicated clients are typically spending $5000-plus per person on average.

“Clearly, adventure travel is on the rise and the average age of adventure travelers is expanding,” said John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group. “Consumers are focused more and more on authentic, transformational and exciting travel experiences, which is helping to fuel the growth in adventure travel. And we are seeing many consumers spending big dollars on adventure travel to far-flung destinations on longer journeys as well as many who are combining active and adventure travel with some luxury elements. As the adventure travel market continues to evolve, the opportunities for both consumers and travel agents are infinite,” Lovell added.

Added Russell Walters, Regional Director for the Adventure Travel Trade Association, “As a $683 billion industry, adventure travel is a high potential market segment, which is something Travel Leaders recognized some time ago. This research underscores that foresight along with the value of training and education for travel professionals in this rapidly growing specialty area.”

Other interesting facts from the survey:

  • The percentage of male versus female adventure travelers varied by only one percentage point (50.5 percent male; 49.5 percent female). However, a majority of the decision-making with respect to purchasing adventure
    travel is done by females (64 percent), consistent with travel purchase trends in the larger travel industry.
  • The survey results showed a strong mix of novice versus experienced adventure travelers.
  • The top 10 adventure travel destinations, according to the survey:
    • Western Europe (France, Italy, Germany, U.K., Norway, Switzerland, etc)
    • Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala)
    • North America (U.S. and Canada)
    • Caribbean
    • South Pacific (New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Somoa, Tahiti)
    • South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador)
    • Mexico
    • Africa
    • Central Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Poland)
    • South and Southeast Asia (India, Malaysia)
  • The top 10 types of adventure travel most-often booked via Travel Leaders travel agents (based on categories as defined by the ATTA):
    • Cultural Tours
    • Hiking/Walking/Trekking
    • Culinary and Foodie
    • Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
    • Small Ship Expedition Cruises
    • Sea Kayaking/Whitewater Kayaking/Kayak Touring
    • Biking/Road Biking/Mountain Biking
    • Safaris
    • Rafting
    • Multi-sport (i.e, hike/bike/kayak in one trip)
  • The survey indicated that adventure travelers are booking a mix of pre-organized tour operator packages and customized independent trips with neither category strongly leading the other.
  • Of the travel agents participating in the survey, 68 percent indicated they personally participate in adventure travel and their top mechanisms for securing new business include client referrals, social media and Agent Profiler, which is an industry-leading agent locator tool on that easily enables consumers to find travel agents focused on specific specialties and destinations.
  • Agents cited the growth potential in adventure travel as their top motivation for selling this travel niche.

“Many travel agents are missing out on a huge opportunity by not selling adventure travel,” said Perry Lungmus, Vice President of Marketing for Travel Leaders Network. “Travel Leaders agents are particularly well-positioned to move into the adventure travel arena between the Travel Leaders’ Active & Adventure Travel Specialist Program and our exclusive partnership with ATTA and involvement in many of their international events. We have all the tools available to help them become adventure specialists and begin benefitting from this highly lucrative and growing niche,” Lungmus added.

For travel agencies interested in learning more about the award-winning programs and diverse offerings that Travel Leaders Network offers agencies in leisure and luxury travel, business travel, honeymoon and destination weddings – as well as active and adventure travel – visit

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.

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