TRAVEL agents, we’re always being told, need to evolve and offer more diverse products to be able to survive in this challenging new environment.
That means not just being reactive to customers’ demands, but actually steering clients to make choices that will influence their lives – one taste of adrenaline zipping through their veins, and they’ll soon back the next long weekend, looking for a package where they can get those happy hormones going again. It’s the perfect antidote for the expat confined to a desk.
Recent research bears that out: in a travel trends survey of 4,000 travellers worldwide, online travel community TripAdvisor found that interest in the outdoors has increased, and the ‘working holiday’ is the hot new trend.
Forty-three per cent of travellers are likely to go hiking, up from 24 per cent one year ago, and 39 per cent plan adventure activities like para-sailing and white-water rafting, up from 29 per cent last year. Most interesting of all, more women than men plan to participate in outdoor activities in 2007, according to the survey.
This is in line with Euromonitor International findings released at WTM, reported by TTN in December. The popularity of reality shows and TV programmes demonstrates that consumers are tired of the ‘norm’ and have a growing thirst for extreme and unique experiences, and a growing number of travellers are rejecting travel advisories to undertake radical travel plans, the report says. “In an increasingly commoditised market, the well-travelled, and particularly those with a cash-rich, time-poor profile, are demanding more intense experiences. This has given rise to an increasing demand for ‘holidays with an edge’, or ‘safe danger’ tourism.”
Examples of safe danger tourism could be desert survival trips, already offered in Timbuktu in Mali, or even being escorted by armed guards around no-go areas in high-conflict regions. Already a well-document form of extreme tourism, disaster tourism provides the ultimate adventure for the big spender.
Small, dangerous market but mega returns. Every region has its opportunities, now for the industry to take advantage.
by Clark Kelly