Technology will help boost sector’s supply, distribution and search, says Chris Roche, founder of The Adventure People

In 2016, I decided to move into the adventure holiday sector and this is why.

First and foremost, it’s fun. As much as I enjoyed selling summer beach holidays, adventure holidays are more interesting and, by the way, not niche.

From a commercial viewpoint, the sector reminds me of the mainstream market in the early 2000s, which experienced growth and seismic shifts in how customers searched for and purchased holidays. The adventure sector is going to see a similar change.

The growth in adventure holidays is being propelled by millennials (a word I’m not a fan of) and the over-55s. Both groups have much in common, albeit brought about by different circumstances. They have disposable cash, free time, are health-conscious and have enjoyed family beach holidays for the past 15 years or more.

Shift in demand

When I was 25 I didn’t want to go to the same places I’d enjoyed as a teenager on family holidays, and I suspect today’s 25-year-olds feel the same. The difference is that my holidays were in the UK or on the ferry to France in the mid to late-1980s. If you’re 25 in 2018, I would bet you have been on low‑cost airlines to Europe or with an operator.
If you’re over-55, I’d bet the same.

Now that’s not to say the traditional summer holiday is in danger – it is not. The latest Atol numbers show it will continue to thrive. However, more people want to do something different and exciting. More will trek the Inca Trail, cycle Vietnam or kayak in the Adriatic, because these two demographics are demanding something different from time to time.

Until now, it’s been difficult to find and book adventure holidays. Not any more.Technology is coming to the adventure sector and that will change things.

There will be some in the sector who resist – just like in the mainstream sector 15 years ago. When I started The Adventure People, I was told by a senior figure in the adventure sector that an online agent model wouldn’t work and I’d need shops. Sure, and the Earth is flat.

Technology take-up

Technology will be deployed in various areas of the adventure travel ecology. For me, three stand out: supply, distribution and search.

There are thousands of adventure travel providers around the world, and most do not operate in the UK. That’s not because they don’t want to or can’t – they would love to but just can’t afford it in terms of time or cash. They need a platform.

Many adventure providers don’t yet have sufficient distribution technology to acquire more sales points. Online travel agencies have the platforms to help smaller operators get their product in front of more customers.

Current search engines are old and not meeting users’ needs. This will change as the latest technology supports the complexity required.

Yet as much as technology is at the heart of what I do, I also believe the adventure sector is all about people. By that, I mean customers talking to brilliant guides and knowledgeable agents. At The Adventure People we are on a journey to make life easier for the customer to book adventure travel by using great technology combined with great people.