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  • Writer's picturePru Goudie

Adventure Sector Set For ‘POWERFUL’ Year Despite Shrinking Booking Window


BY SARAH DENNIS

Editor (interim) - TTG Media


Adventure travel operators should prepare for “a powerful year ahead” as demand continues to rise for adventure-style holidays, according to new research delivered at the Adventure Travel Networking (#ATN24) conference on 29 February 2024.



Data specialist Spike Insight’s survey of 150 adventure travel suppliers reveals tailor-made tours have seen the fastest growth in popularity, reported by 46% of respondents.


Both group tours and self-guided travel have seen growth, the survey found, though a more muted 16% of suppliers reported a popularity surge for the latter.

 

Spike Insight director Roy Barker, speaking at the Adventure Travel Networking 2024 conference in London today (29 February), told delegates the coming year “will be very powerful indeed”.



Barker did however point to the sector as being in the cycle of “a buyer’s market”. 
Consumer demand is strong; people are happy to pay more, but they’re expecting to see more from what they’re getting,” he said.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of suppliers said booking windows had shrunk, with bookings mainly made for just two to six months before departure and just 3% reporting bookings made more than 12 months in advance.

 

“A shortened booking window is a concern for quite a few operators,” Barker said.

 

Richard Skinner, operations director at Responsible Travel, raised the concern of adventure tour operators discounting more than in previous years.

 

“I think booking patterns will lengthen. But a lot of it will be driven by discounting,” he said, adding that flight prices remain a concern “and will impact destinations where capacity hasn’t returned”.


 

Chiming with findings of a similar survey by Spike Insight last year, walking and hiking were the most popular adventure travel activities (59%), followed by wildlife and nature (44%). But three in 10 reported a demand for foodie tours, rising slightly for community-based tourism (31%) and cycling tours (31%). 


Lyn Hughes, founding editor at Wanderlust Media, pointed to customers driving the demand for experiential travel. “It’s really about ‘experiencing’ and not just taking in the sights. Baby boomers are leading the way, and they want to do those activities, but perhaps in an easier way than they did 20 to 30 years ago,” she said.

 

The pandemic has also driven that need, she added: “When people got out after being locked up in lockdown, they didn’t want to just ‘see’.”

 

Destination was ranked as the number-one driver for booking decisions, with sustainability prioritised much less, suppliers said. 



But Barker noted: “There’s a nuance there – a difference between people saying ‘I want a sustainable holiday’ and those saying ‘I want to go to [a destination] and do it in a more sustainable way’.”


He also pointed to pricing being lower on the priority list, insisting “booking decisions should not be assumed to be about price”. 


TTG Media is the media partner of the Adventure Travel Networking conference, which this year included a virtual marketplace day for suppliers to get in contact with adventure travel buyers, including tour operators and travel agency partners. The event is now in its fourth year.



TTG Media has been the trade media partner of ATN from its inception and

attended the sold-out conference.



-Ends-



The next Adventure Travel Networking Conference & Marketplace will take place

on 25 & 27 February 2025 as a hybrid event.


Register your interest HERE



Pru Goudie - ATN founder



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