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How to start an adventure travel agency

How to start an adventure travel agency

As holidaymakers look for new and exciting experiences, interest in adventure travel is rapidly growing, moving this brand of holiday out of the niche market zone and into the mainstream. 

Many adventure tourists aim to connect with new landscapes and cultures while leaving as little impact on the environment as possible. Activities such as climbing, scuba diving, and snowboarding are hugely popular, but for something more exotic, rainforest adventures, scaling volcanos, or off-roading across deserts attract thousands of thrill seekers every year.  

What is adventure travel?

Adventure travel is an amazing way to see the world that combines tourism with cultural immersion, physical activities and a chance to experience nature in all its glory. Travellers often seek mental and emotional challenges that push their boundaries and take them outside their comfort zone, gaining a sense of achievement when something difficult is accomplished.

This experience is a great way to meet new friends, bond with existing ones, burn off stress, and explore the world. But it also helps build local economies. Many popular adventure travel destinations are among the poorest countries globally, and by bringing money into the area, tourism supports local infrastructure, and community development, and contributes to eco-initiatives that preserve the region’s natural resources. 

Adventure travel is often broken down into two types – soft and hard adventure:

  • Soft-adventure travel is great for newbies. Requiring few skills and minimal risk, activities can include backpacking, camping, canoeing and safaris.
  • Hard-adventure travel requires more skills and can be riskier – rock climbing, caving, or trekking are all good examples.

Is there a demand for adventure travel agents?? 

Business Wire, a respected statistical resource, predicts that the global market for adventure travel, recently valued at USD 288.08 billion, will expand to USD 2824.41 billion by 2030, so now is a great time to become an adventure travel agency. 

To become a successful adventure travel agent, there are several things to consider first. 

How do you become an adventure travel agent? 

Learn about the niche product

As with starting any business, it’s vital to understand what makes a great adventure travel agency, and the better your groundwork, the greater your chance of success. 

One of the best ways to learn about this niche market is to talk to people who have built an adventure travel agency for themselves. Ask how they started to grow their business and the pitfalls they overcame on the way. Knowing any potential stumbling blocks will help you plan for them or avoid them altogether. 

Visiting industry fairs and exhibitions is an excellent way to learn about adventure travel. It will allow you to network and gain contacts and build your knowledge gradually. Also try to get to know as many adventure travel tour operators as you can. Find out what they offer, why they are popular and if they are expanding to new destinations. 

Experience adventure travel for yourself

The best way to sell adventure travel is to experience it for yourself. Search for an activity you think you’d enjoy, then approach the agent or tour operator selling the holiday. Think about why that agent, in particular, appealed to you while booking your break; this could give you ideas for marketing your own holidays.

Because your clients will want to hear your story – what you experienced and how you felt, keep a detailed travel journal and take photos of everything. Your passion will inspire and encourage them to enjoy their own adventure, especially if you share your snapshots on social media. 

Find a company to partner with 

Partnering with an existing company is an excellent way to get your adventure travel agency up and running. Offering you experience, support and training, a business with a proven track record provides fantastic opportunities for successful growth. 

The Travel Franchise has been in the travel industry since 2001, helping hundreds of people start their own homeworking travel agency business under the customer-facing brand Not Just Travel. For a comparatively small initial outlay, you’ll become part of a growing network of travel consultants, receive ongoing training and benefit from your own personal Business Development  Manager. They’ll answer any questions, providing the advice and tips you need to become an adventure travel agency. Not Just Travel also partners with several adventure companies which means you can sell a range of adventure holidays and have access to great deals and offers. 

Steps to a successful adventure travel agency 

Starting an adventure travel agency is an exciting prospect that can increase your earning potential and job satisfaction and lead to new opportunities for you and your family. 

It’s a good idea, right from the start, to build a business plan which you can keep adding to as you do your research. Your plan should include:

  • Startup costs (eg the franchise fee if you go down this route)
  • Recurring costs
  • Who your target market is
  • Whether you want to specialise in specific countries or type of activity 
  • How and where you plan to market your adventure travel packages 

Learn more about your clients

It’s important to understand your target market. Read travel blogs or join adventure travel groups on social media, and research what clients want from their holiday. What would make them choose your agency over another? Approach adventure travel from a different perspective by pinpointing something that travellers would like but that isn’t available in the current market – is this something you could supply? 

Your clients will all have different expectations of what makes an adventure holiday fantastic. Some may want to immerse themselves in the culture and wildlife of a remote island tribe, while another’s ideal adventure is playing traditional polo in Argentina – it’s your job to get to know what your clients enjoy.  

Although adventure travel may appear to be the preserve of younger people, many older holidaymakers or families want to be part of the action, and there are countless opportunities for adventure out there. 

However, there should be realistic expectations, too, and certain trips require participants to be physically fit. Scaling Kilimanjaro, for example, isn’t going to be suitable for everyone, and in this case, it could be necessary to suggest an activity that is better suited to the client. 

Gather as much information about each individual client as possible, and consider their requirements carefully when offering them adventure travel suggestions. When they return after their extraordinary experiences, they’ll remember that you made it all possible.  

Adventure travel opportunities are everywhere

There are opportunities for new and exciting adventures in every corner of the globe, and you should keep your eyes open to selling those chances. 

For example, if you have a client flying to the Malaysian jungle for a trekking adventure, and the flight has a stopover in Dubai, why not push the idea of wadi bashing or a desert camel ride? Or another client is booking an Antarctic cruise, and you’ve discovered they have a love for live music, offer to book them a visit to a tango club during the stopover in Buenos Aires.

In short, don’t be so focused on your client’s destination that you miss other opportunities to sell them an experience.  

Drive the client conversation

Once you understand your client, don’t wait for them to suggest something. Step in and present ideas, proposing adventure travel activities that will excite and inspire them. Even if they’ve carried out their own research, there’s always room for input. Create an itinerary that will give them the adventure of a lifetime. 

Adventure travel supports local communities and their environment 

Many adventure travellers are interested in more than just undertaking risky or extreme activities – they want to broaden their worldview. Looking for meaningful interactions with local communities, travellers are often eager to fully immerse themselves in new cultures and the natural world they exist within. 

Frequently, adventure travel destinations are in economically poor places, and communities benefit from the money brought into the region. Local craft items and traditional foodstuffs can be sold, and visitors may have opportunities to learn a new language, the region’s history or hear its folklore. These activities provide jobs for local people, which also helps communities survive. 

The positive impact of adventure travel can be huge, both on the destinations visited and your clients. Their unforgettable experiences will be thanks to your efforts to create the perfect adventure for them. 

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