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Research: Adventure Tour Operators Eager to Work with Travel Agents, Citing New Sales Channels, Personal Touch

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(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, March 13, 2019) – Eighty-seven percent of tour operators working in the adventure travel industry currently work with travel agents noting agents offer a “new sales channel,” yet only a small subset of travel advisors specialize in the adventure tourism sector, according to new research published by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). Research in the Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest also indicates that, though less than 30 percent of sales come through agents, 63 percent of tour operators have experienced growth through the agent channel.

Data for this research report, Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest, was collected from ATTA tour operators about their experiences of working with travel agents in the winter of 2018. An earlier companion survey, Travel Leaders Survey of Travel Agents, was given to travel agents about their experiences working within the adventure travel industry in spring 2018. That survey was conducted by Travel Leaders, a travel agency network in the United States. Together, the Travel Leaders Survey of Travel Agents and the Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest indicate that, though tour operators are interested in booking through travel agents, there is still a continued need for mutual education and understanding to address the complexity of these transactions.

“There is clearly a demand from adventure tour operators to work with specialist travel advisors,” said Russell Walters, the ATTA’s regional director for North America. “The findings in the report demonstrate areas where operators and travel agents can work together to develop relationships, leading to long-term business opportunities in this growing market segment.”

Tour operators reported being primarily motivated to work with travel agents because they offer a new sales channel. Additionally, the relationship offers distribution through a trusted network, access to new clients in desired markets, and a personal touch to close the deal. Nearly 70 percent of tour operators stated they’d be interested in training on working with travel agents, indicating an opportunity for the two tourism arms to partner more closely in the future.

The research report was compiled based on an online survey sent to more than 1,000 adventure tour operators, with 170 respondents from all continents except Antarctica. The Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest asked tour operators for information on partnerships with travel agents, 2018 sales using travel agents, profiles of adventure travelers booking through travel agents, and recommendations for improving adventure trip sales through travel agent partners.

The 98-page Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest is available for download.

About Adventure Travel Trade Association
Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) today is widely recognized as a vital leadership voice and partner for the adventure travel industry around the world.

Membership + Trade
The membership and trade organization is designed to be a force for the industry and exists to drive thought leadership, industry promotion, and opportunities to network and convene globally to create trade and business health. It currently serves more than 1,300 member organizations in 100 countries worldwide. The constituency is made up of tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents, and accommodations all sharing a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism.

Adventure 360 – Business Services + Events
Through its growing business services division, the ATTA delivers a portfolio of strategic solutions and a robust ecosystem of events around the globe. Those events include AdventureNEXT which focuses on regional promotion and partnerships; AdventureELEVATE a North American-based educational conference; and the premiere adventure travel global conference, the Adventure Travel World Summit. With specialized expertise in research, events, education, media, and promotion, the ATTA business service division is able to provide valuable solutions to a broad set of partners across many verticals of business.

Adventure Travel Conservation Fund
In 2016 the ATTA partnered with other leaders from the adventure travel industry to start the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF), a nonprofit that provides funding, connections and an international spotlight on projects that protect the cultural and natural resources which underpin the adventure tourism industry. 100% of membership dues go towards funding these international projects. Each year members nominate projects, which are then vetted and finally voted upon by the ATCF membership.

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