Sunday, 17 August 2008

Beyond the Adrenaline Rush: Rethinking Traditional Adventure Travel Marketing For Gen Y

New report reveals GenY adventure travel behavior trends, recommends marketing strategies to reach a fast-growing travel segment

With an annual growth rate of 3.5%, Generation Y represents the fastest-growing demographic segment in the travel industry today. A new research report released by Xola Consulting, Inc. indicates this group demands authentic travel experiences rich in cultural exchange and environmental immersion much the same as Baby Boomers. The findings indicate a significant opportunity for adventure travel tour operators to market to Gen Y, and offer destinations and tour operators a new way to perceive this market. If you thought Gen Y was only interested in the adrenaline rush when it comes to adventure travel, think again.

While GenY adventure travelers share a similar desire as their parents in the Baby Boomer generation to learn, connect, and engage with the world, their approach for achieving those goals is very different. Adventure travel tour operators and destinations may need to reconsider their trip offerings and marketing strategies to reach this group effectively.

A substantial body of research covers youth travel, backpackers, adventure travel and Generation Y as a whole, but there has been no focused effort to examine how marketing messages and products might be shaped to best attract this group specifically for the adventure travel industry.

With the support of the George Washington University International Institute for Tourism Studies (, Xola consultant Natasha Martin surveyed North American and Western European GenY travelers, and conducted a literature review of youth travel, backpacking, Generation Y, and adventure travel. The resulting report, “WhatUp World? Marketing Adventure Travel for Gen Y,” offers insights to the attitudes, preferences, and lifestyles of Gen Y adventure travelers, and recommends marketing strategies – including brand positioning, messaging, and media relations - for reaching this important and growing market.

"Marketers aiming to reach GenY adventure travelers must recognize that the travel habits of this group are by no means homogeneous,” said Natasha Martin, lead consultant on the study. “Given the variation, marketing messages must consistently focus on micro-specialization, and endeavor to speak simply and specifically about destinations and activities.”

The report's findings about GenY adventure travelers indicate that:

- 82% choose destination before deciding budget, and 74% research trips on the Internet
- They tend to stay at destinations longer and travel deeper than other travel segments,resulting in expenditures that can have great impact in destinations
- They travel with a purpose – to explore and engage with other cultures
- 50% include cultural experiences in their definition of “adventure;” they travel to develop a deeper understanding of their personal or cultural heritage
- 82% have college degrees or higher
- They are well-read and have a holistic view of the world, making them comfortable in seeking out destinations and adventure travel opportunities outside of the traditional mainstream

The Executive Summary from “WhatUp World? Marketing Adventure Travel for Gen Y” is available for free download at Please contact Christina Heyniger at or +1 202-297-2206 for a full copy of the report. Other groundbreaking reports related to the adventure space are available at

About Xola Consulting

Xola Consulting, Inc. ( specializes in consulting and research services for the adventure tourism industry, providing expertise to both entrepreneurial adventure tour operators and government tourism boards and destination management organizations. Xola also publishes Off the Radar (, an online newsletter and website providing information to adventure travelers about the best sustainable adventure travel destinations and trips.

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