Suppliers have urged agents to highlight the inclusions and value-for-money represented by touring and adventure holidays, especially if clients are concerned about the rising costs of living.
Speakers at the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) conference near Warwick said more agents have begun selling holidays in the sector, partly thanks to the extra online training offered by suppliers during the pandemic lockdowns.
Brian Young, Atas chair and EMEA managing director at G Adventures, said: “Touring and adventure’s offering is unique and a huge opportunity; more now than ever.
“The value of our sector comes from the level of inclusions on offer…they represent huge value for travellers.
“And lots of tours are stripped back so travellers can grab a deal and help keep costs down.”
He said the pandemic had made people “rethink travel” so they want “more experiential trips”.
“We caught the eye of agents who are new to [our sector], as they saw that customers who book beach holidays would also like touring and adventure,” he said.
“People are bored of beaches and all-inclusives – that’s a break, not a holiday in my view.”
Niel Alobaidi, chief executive at Newmarket Holidays, said trade sales at his firm are growing faster than other channels and are selling higher value tours than direct.
“Travel agents have closer relations with their customers than we do,” he added.
“It is not about being cheap, it’s about value for money. Agents are better at pushing that value message.
“If you don’t have so much disposable income but want something special, we can do that.”
Anthony Daniels, UK general manager for Hurtigruten, has also seen more agents booking his cruise line, thanks in part to more training sessions being carried out during the pandemic
“For 2023, there is more confidence – and more confidence in booking with a supplier and agent,” he said.
“We are expecting a record year in 2023.”
Commenting on joining Atas, he added: “We go to places on land that you can’t reach with big ships and it’s all about the destinations…don’t think of it just as a cruise, it is an expedition on a ship.”
Young said many older clients are less affected by cost-of-living concerns, while many younger travellers are keen savers, dubbing them the ‘Monzo’ generation, as they will prioritise holidays over spending on other items or activities.
Asked if escorted tours and adventure trips represent the “ultimate package holiday”, he said the sector offers “all-encompassing value” and “amazing products”.
“From Antarctica to Italy to Kilimanjaro, it is a real holiday that you can get passionate about,” he told delegates.