Nearly 70% of Operators Expect to Grow in 2010 According to ATTA’s Feb. 2010 Survey

16 March 2010
ATTA Industry Snapshot February 2010

For the February 2010 Adventure Travel Trade Association survey, data is derived from tour operators only. This Snapshot is the largest data set the ATTA has gathered yet for this type of survey, with more than 300 companies reporting. North American organizations represented nearly 40% of respondents, with Europe and South America representing just under 20% each.

The February 2010 Snapshot is reported as a whole and then segmented into regions. The ATTA’s report includes regional breakouts for North America, South America and Europe for readers to see those results separately. Due to insufficient data representing Asia (including the Middle East), Oceania and Africa, these regions were not reported separately. As participation in ATTA tour operator surveys climbs, the ATTA anticipates introducing additional regional reports.

Survey Excerpts & Observations

ATTA Industry Snapshot surveys are made available exclusively to ATTA Members. The following excerpts provide a summary of just some of the findings:

  • The positive news from the report is that businesses are very optimistic about 2010. Nearly 70% of operators expect to grow in 2010 and 21% expect to stay at par.

  • 74% of all bookings reported globally originate in North America and Europe, with South America reporting 9%. Comparatively, a joint report by The George Washington University, ATTA and Xola Consulting, which will be released in 2010, shows a relatively high percentage of adventure travelers originating from South America, but it could be that many are not using tour operators, but are fully independent travelers.
  • The gender split of customers was almost exactly down the middle (51% female in 2010, similar to the ATTA’s 2006 survey which reported 52% fe- male), which is contrary to some studies and anecdotal evidence suggesting that the balance tended to be weighed more heavily toward women.
  • Not surprisingly (and conventionally), the 41-60 year old age group comprised the largest percentage of customers at 43% of the reporting total (ATTA data showed 42% in 2006).

  • The majority of companies in the space are small businesses, reporting under US $1 million in revenue/year. However, one of the largest single categories at 21% of all the companies reporting were in the $1mm-5mm range – a respectable number considering the incredible specialization of the activities offered by most adventure travel operators.
  • Nearly all the businesses were down in revenue in 2009 (over 2008) with the exception of companies that register revenue under $50,000. Speculation on this outlier include that many are in startup mode, so revenues are inevitably higher than the previous year and that very small operators sometimes have only a few but successful and stable itineraries every year so they are less impacted by the market.
  • Profit margins remain solid for all regions.
  • Printed materials will continue to take a beating – both on the advertising and catalog fronts as cost-cutting measures.
  • Web based advertising and marketing continues to be an increasing line item for budgets, and focus on existing customers continues to rise in importance.
  • Social media as a tool in which to invest continues to be a mixed bag for the industry with a full quarter of respondents indicating that it’s, “overrated, but worth investing in”. This statement appears to sum up the fact that the phenomenon has not yet run its full course in terms of contributing to businesses’ bottom line, and that its true impact continues to represent an unknown.