American Marketer

Travel and hospitality

Adventure travel is a universal passion among affluent consumers

June 26, 2018

Adventure travel is popular among men and women and different age groups. Image credit: Travel Leaders Group


“Adventure” is the new keyword in luxury travel as 86 percent of travel agents report that there has been an increase in adventure travel among their high-end clients.

According to a new report from Travel Leaders Group, adventure travel, which includes activities such as hiking and nature exploration as well as cultural and culinary exploration, is growing in popularity. This finding is consistent with an overall shift in luxury consumers’ habits, favoring experiential purchases.

"Segment research has shown that an increasing proportion of today’s travelers, many who have grown up exploring the world, want to gain a more meaningful and fulfilling world view," said Perry Lungmus, vice president of Travel Leaders Network, New York. "There is greater demand for and accessibility to educational, transformative and personally rewarding travel experiences than ever before.

"Travel industry providers including travel agents, accommodations, tour operators, cruise lines and destination marketers are creatively meeting that demand and communicating these experiential opportunities through new channels," he said.

Adventure travel
Today’s luxury travelers want more than just a nice hotel and good service. As their expectations for what constitutes luxury travel rise, so too does their desire for unique experiences.

This has driven the rise in adventure travel. As Travel Leaders Group defines it, adventure travel constitutes a trip taken for a specific experience, whether it be climbing a mountain or enjoying unique cuisine.

A variety of price points are represented in adventure travel today, but mostly high-end travelers are the ones enjoying the boom in adventure travel.

Customers desire all kinds of adventure travel. Image credit: Four Seasons

The study found that 33 percent of travel agents said adventure travelers tend to spend between $3,000 and $5,000 while 23 percent said they spend more than $5,000.

Luxury travel brands and hotels have also capitalized on this shift, strengthening their adventure travel options and putting them front and center in marketing efforts.

"Affluent travelers have more options to combine their personal lifestyle with travel choices, from fitness and wellness to shared family education to cultural or wildlife encounters in a luxury setting," Mr. Lungmus said. "Hospitality providers like luxury hotels, lodges, camps and ranches, as well as expedition cruise operators are all showing creativity in how they are marketing to and accommodating these travelers in an appealing, high quality style."

Experiential offerings
One of the most notable figures from the report is just how universal the desire for adventure travel is.

Travel Leaders Group notes that the difference in adventure travel desire between male and female travelers and between the age groups of 29 to 40 and 41 to 50 was just one percentage point.

Affluent consumers are also united in a shared affinity for travel as experiences become more important than things.

Affluents of all ages are flocking to adventure travel. Image credit: Mandarin Oriental

A new report from YouGov finds that while consumers’ preferred hobbies vary in different regions of the globe, travel comes out on top for all parts of the world. However, while travel is top-of-mind for affluent travelers, YouGov warns that the affluent are beginning to express feelings of travel fatigue, calling for brands to keep their offerings fresh (see story).

"There is arguably still significant global demand and availability for lower cost adventure travel experiences where the adventure may be a lack of tourism infrastructure and 'luxury' may simply mean having basic needs met," Mr. Lungmus said. "On the other hand, there are many newer options, including high visibility international destinations, offering active and adventure travel that includes varying degrees of 'luxury,' some at very high relative price points.

"From a travel agent point of view it’s often difficult to base a business on the low-cost segment, or with subject-specific enthusiast travelers who don’t need or want much guidance, so our focus is on the upper segments where there are better margins and we can add value," he said.