Adventure Travel – Becoming Mainstream (30.01.14)
One of the reasons Nomadic Thoughts always enjoy arranging bespoke travel for our clients is that we plan and arrange itineraries with such a diverse selection of holiday activities, destinations and accommodations. Although this diversity always revolves around what is most suitable and appropriate to each individual client or group of clients, core to our service is the belief that the itinerary must incorporate the correct collection of components to make the trip ultimately a ‘darn good holiday’. Or more appropriately an ‘adventure’.
Now while one person’s idea of a ‘darn good holiday’ will differ from another’s, what continues to excite us more than anything else is introducing our clients to an idea and destination, then following it through with a mixture of services, activities and experiences that make it an adventure to remember for ever. No mean feat, but we relish the challenge of providing people with a holiday experience to match their emotions, desires and sense of excitement. Not to mention budget.
Any journey should after all be an ‘adventure’ in itself. What differs in today’s travel market is the range of options – so numerous that mainstream tourism has, for the first time, begun to wholeheartedly embrace the ‘adventure travel’ tag.
Interestingly, while the traditional marketing poster, or web-site link, to adventure travel tends to guide you to a set of images showing people in their twenties climbing, biking, surfing or even jumping off inordinately high cliffs, in Nomadic Thoughts’ experience it is people twice that age who are more prepared to embark on a traditional adventure holiday. An adventure holiday that does not necessarily require one to climb, bike, surf or jump as frantically as you might imagine.
Perhaps the main difference with ‘adventure holidays’ today is that they no longer need to be an all-encompassing two, or three, week long adventure activity. People are much more inclined to include a particular adventure activity as opposed to solely building a holiday around that activity. As the choice of destination broadens, visitors are no longer restricted to one or other activity or adventure experience. Indeed they can combine several in one holiday.
Twenty years ago adventure seekers might have wanted to go on a two week outer barrier reef diving trip, or trek across a high altitude mountain range. Today, in our experience, people would prefer to combine a bit of diving & snorkelling, while perhaps enjoying the option of walking or trekking along the way. ‘Mix & match’ is more popular than an ‘all out expedition’.
Two days ago I attended a travel press function at which I explained how our 2014 ‘Jungle & Beach’ themed itineraries were gathering pace. The three most popular choices presently are (i) Costa Rica’s Monteverde cloud forest with Pacific surfing coasts; (ii) Brazil’s Bahia beaches and Amazonas; (iii) Indonesia’s Sulawezi jungle with Sumba surf. We could equally have added Mauritius with a variety of inland coastal adventure activities alongside white sand beaches.
The point being that ‘adventure holidays’ can easily be designed around an adventure activity in addition to a period of time relaxing on a beach. Similarly there appears no age limit.
The very definition of ‘adventure travel’ has become so broad that the travel industry itself often appears at odds as to what does, and does not, constitute an ‘adventure’. Similarly the travel insurance industry also finds it difficult to distinguish between the different levels of adventure, and the risk attached.
Last week I attended the first trade-only Adventure Travel Conference. We discussed in small breakout groups, the question of whether ‘Adventure Travel’ was indeed the future of the travel industry. A broad topic that not unnaturally threw up a wide range of observations.
At Nomadic Thoughts we state on our website, that ‘we believe that our most exciting adventure holiday experiences combine a mixture of physical activity, nature and local culture exchange’. A description my fellow delegates appeared broadly to agree with. The group I was involved in concluded that whereas ‘adventure travel’ meant different things to different people, it was essentially ‘a journey that involves an element of personal challenge’.
I also joined a panel touching on the ‘pros & cons’ of embracing today’s ever changing social media platforms, at which the interesting observation was made that in today’s fast-fix mobile phone world, the visual ‘I’ve been there’ travel badge was omnipresent and tended to water down the particular ‘adventure travel’ activity itself. The adventure ‘experience’ is becoming dominated more by the need to post a personal message/image, than to actually experience an adventure of true excitement and raw adventure. Whatever the aspiration, whether being humbled by a wildlife experience or climbing up above the clouds atop a snow-clad mountain, a real adventure must be more than a Facebook image.
In my case, when taking the photos in this blog, I was truly inspired by the adventure experience I was either enjoying myself, or watching unfold in front of me.