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Adventure TOs eager to work with travel agents, citing new sales channels, personal touch

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Eighty-seven percent of tour operators working in the adventure travel industry currently work with travel agents noting agents offer a “new sales channel,” yet only a small subset of travel advisors specialize in the adventure tourism sector, according to new research published by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). Research in the Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest also indicates that, though less than 30 percent of sales come through agents, 63 percent of tour operators have experienced growth through the agent channel.

Data for this research report, Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest, was collected from ATTA tour operators about their experiences of working with travel agents in the winter of 2018. An earlier companion survey, Travel Leaders Survey of Travel Agents, was given to travel agents about their experiences working within the adventure travel industry in spring 2018. That survey was conducted by Travel Leaders, a travel agency network in the United States. Together, the Travel Leaders Survey of Travel Agents and the Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest indicate that, though tour operators are interested in booking through travel agents, there is still a continued need for mutual education and understanding to address the complexity of these transactions.

“There is clearly a demand from adventure tour operators to work with specialist travel advisors,” said Russell Walters, the ATTA’s regional director for North America. “The findings in the report demonstrate areas where operators and travel agents can work together to develop relationships, leading to long-term business opportunities in this growing market segment.”

Tour operators reported being primarily motivated to work with travel agents because they offer a new sales channel. Additionally, the relationship offers distribution through a trusted network, access to new clients in desired markets, and a personal touch to close the deal. Nearly 70 percent of tour operators stated they’d be interested in training on working with travel agents, indicating an opportunity for the two tourism arms to partner more closely in the future.

The research report was compiled based on an online survey sent to more than 1,000 adventure tour operators, with 170 respondents from all continents except Antarctica. The Travel Leaders Companion Survey Digest asked tour operators for information on partnerships with travel agents, 2018 sales using travel agents, profiles of adventure travelers booking through travel agents, and recommendations for improving adventure trip sales through travel agent partners.

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