Thirty-five industry professionals from Jordan attended the first AdventureEDU training program held in the country’s capital city, Amman, on 14-15 April 2018. The program’s interactive agenda was designed to further enable the advancement of Jordan’s adventure travel industry through product development, marketing strategies, and tactics training. It also reaffirmed the final preparations and momentum for the upcoming AdventureNEXT Near East taking place 7-9 May at Kempinski Ishtar Hotel on the Dead Sea.
Inbound adventure travel tour operators, service providers, guides, local tourism networks, DMCs, and USAID BEST team members attended the two-day training session. The event covered a variety of topics and was delivered by Ana Ines Figueroa, founder of Adventure & Landscape; Manal Kelig, executive director of the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region for the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA); and Gordon Janow, a founding member of Alpine Ascents.
Kelig shared details about current global trends shaping the adventure travel market. She also highlighted ROI from the 2017 AdventureNEXT Near East event. “Over the past year, the adventure travel industry in Jordan has seen a significant amount of growth. The interest and enthusiasm local operators have shown for learning all they can about innovative business practices in settings such as AdventureEDU trainings is evidence of their commitment and motivation for developing more adventure opportunities in the area,” Kelig said.
Figueroa worked with the participants on product development modules and activities. She stressed the importance of keeping sustainability top of mind during the product design stage and challenged them to generate a specific itinerary based on what they learned during the workshop. She then worked with participants to evaluate the itineraries from a product development aspect.
Participants worked with Janow on refining business management practices for adventure tourism companies as well as strategies for working with international markets. He demonstrated how to implement advanced tactics for managing a competitive product portfolio and behavioral marketing tactics using the itineraries created by the participants during the product development session.
During the community builder component of the program, participants engaged in an in-depth discussion on several subjects related to adventure travel regulations in Jordan and benchmarking where the country stands in comparison to other destinations. They also exchanged ideas and explored opportunities for relationship building and cooperation to develop new itineraries in Jordan. The three educators encouraged participants to be forward-thinking, consider the future, and work together to create cutting-edge and sustainable product offerings. Additionally, they suggested participants think about innovative ways they could work with international trade partners to reinforce Jordan’s regional leadership in adventure travel.
For most participants, this AdventureEDU training was the first time they took part in a practical, hands-on program delivered by adventure travel practitioners, who shared industry tips and techniques in addition to firsthand lessons they learned by working in the field. Educators were able to enhance the discussions by providing actual examples of challenges and successes they experienced in their operations. “I found the AdventureEDU training very informative and beneficial, it was an eye-opener to several aspects of the adventure travel industry as well as an inspiration to improve. The level of interaction and activity added to the excitement of the workshop,” said Ghada Bakerjian of Sindbad Group upon completion of the program.
Costa Tadros of the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association agreed: “The AdventureEDU workshop was genuinely one of the best I have attended, where we felt engaged and informed throughout the two days by the team of experts in the industry. The information will definitely benefit me throughout my career, specifically in regard to product development and marketing.”
The AdventureEDU training in Jordan was supported by USAID BEST, and it is part of USAID’s overall efforts to facilitate industry competitiveness across Jordan. Prior to AdventureNEXT Near East 2017, USAID BEST supported an Adventure Basecamp training for local tour operators and service providers. Both Basecamp and AdventureEDU trainings have contributed to the advancement of the local adventure travel industry, providing tour operators and service providers with key skills they need to organize and manage their businesses better.
Over the last several years, the ATTA has supported Jordan and MENA’s efforts to create and sustain a competitive adventure travel industry in the area, and results from these previous efforts illuminate a confident and optimistic future. In a 2017 AdventureTravelNews article, the ATTA’s CEO, Shannon Stowell, made a statement that still resonates loudly today: “There are plenty of places in the world where we could do tourism events, and it would be fairly simple to do so. However, we’ve chosen Jordan for AdventureNEXT Near East because we believe the tourism industry has a responsibility to lend a hand and an opportunity to succeed in business. It is a classic win-win situation.”