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Milk it: Reap the benefits of a growing adventure travel industry - SNEWS

Milk it: Reap the benefits of a growing adventure travel industry

The Adventure Travel Trade Association focuses on developing adventure tourism in a sustainable and responsible way. Specialty outdoor retailers and manufacturers alike can benefit from membership.
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The Adventure Travel Trade Association is a global organization focused on developing adventure tourism in a sustainable and responsible way. Recently, ATTA conducted a regional meeting in Boulder, Colo. — SNEWS brings you the highlights.

Before we go any further, the organization wants you to know just how it defines adventure tourism: It's simply travel that combines physical, outdoor and cultural elements.

Specialty outdoor retailers and manufacturers alike can benefit from membership to the organization, Chris Chesak, ATTA’s VP of business development, told SNEWS.

In the case of retailers, ATTA membership can mean connections. “Through us, they might get to meet local tour operators and help supply them with a packing list,” Chesak said. “They could become the go-to retailer for those going on adventure travel.”

Tour operators around the world organize anything from walking tours to rafting trips, guiding thousands of people — potential customers — and exposing them to new outdoor activities.

In the case of manufacturers, ATTA membership means brand exposure, Chesak said. Currently about 10 members of the nearly 800-member organization are manufacturers.

“It’s a great opportunity to get in front of tour operators and own the space pretty easily,” Chesak said. Plus, he said, it’s an opportunity to partner with tourism boards and gain further exposure through publications, as Deuter did when it partnered with Norway to offer a consumer sweepstakes for a trip to the Scandinavian nation.

The growth of adventure travel could mean increased sales for the outdoor industry. The ATTA hasn’t collected data to confirm that, but Chesak said it's logically the case. “As the [adventure travel] space grows, as people become more interested in adventure travel, there’s more opportunity for people to get out there and buy gear,” Chesak said.

Much of the inspiration comes from the annual Summit the organization holds in locations around the world. In addition to education and networking, the Summits offer an opportunity to potential adventure travel destinations to show their stuff — and boost their local economies.

Chiapas, Mexico benefitted from hosting last year’s Summit, said ATTA President Shannon Stowell, as 80 percent of Summit attendees indicated on a post-event survey that their views of Mexico in general were more positive after attending the event.

The ATTA likes to keep its annual Summits small — no more than 800 people — so it never feels like a huge convention. This year’s Summit, which will be held Oct. 8-11, 2012 in Lucerne, Switzerland, is almost halfway sold out.

“It is conference style,” Stowell said.

To register for the Summit, do so here, as it will most likely sell out by July. The Summit offers “something better than networking,” Stowell said. “It’s bonding.”

But there’s more to membership than just having a bonding experience at the Summit.

Sometimes companies sign up for an ATTA membership, only to not renew when the time comes. When Chesak asks them why, they say they didn’t get much out of it. So he questions them further.

“I ask, ‘Did you get on the Hub? Did you go to the Summit? Did you come to the Regional?’” Chesak told the crowd at the Boulder REI. Answering "no" to those questions means a company didn’t make the most of their membership. Chesak encourages members, and potential members, to stay engaged and offer feedback, which keeps the company in the minds of the ATTA staff when a partnership opportunity arises.

For more information on how to become a member, visit the ATTA website.

--Ana Trujillo

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