Sustainability sells, says Adventure World’s eco-warrior, Rodgers

Movement towards 'authentic luxury' and uprising of multi-gen trave

Adventure World’s Managing Director Neil Rodgers believes the luxury traveller of today is in tune now more than ever with the importance of sustainable travel, responsible travel and wildlife welfare.

The eco-warrior also tells LATTE the bucket-list baby boomer market remains reluctant to travel abroad since the pandemic and that multi-generational experiences are soaring.

“Sustainability sells,” Rodgers says, encouraging travel advisors sitting on the sidelines of the topic to embrace it.

Adventure World has a wide-ranging, multi-layered approach to sustainability, with a core focus on Travel with Purpose, offering a commitment to the Treadright Foundation, an 11-pronged sustainability strategy, a series of Conservation Collection trips, among numerous other objectives.

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“For people that buy these trips, sustainability means something important to them. These are your new clients – Mid-Life Amazers,” he tells LATTE on the sidelines of last month’s Virtuoso AU/NZ Forum.

“Typically, they have a double income, no kids, time-poor executives and do everything to avoid fear-of-missing-out experiences. And they love social media.

“They’ll be on Instagram posting about their Latin America trip, boasting about how they went piranha fishing on the Amazon,” Rodgers explained.

“But the thing is they are socially conscious and they will ask their agents about sustainability, but many agents fear them.”

“They value an agent and they’ll even brag about them among their social circles, saying ‘Oh my travel agent does that for me’, or ‘oh no, I have an agent that takes care of that for me.”

For Adventure World and its sister brands at The Travel Corporation (TTC), every trip a guest takes, the individual brand is putting money towards a carbon fund. The objective and priority for the TTC will be for all brands to be net zero by 2030.

Authentic Luxury

Rodgers says there is a swing towards “authentic luxury” among Adventure World’s audience.

“Authentic luxury is money can’t buy experiences. That might be a stay in a long house in Borneo and the only luxury there is running hot water, but you hear the Orangutans on the tin roof… this is the new luxury travel.”

“Don’t just think of them as guests seeking spa treatments. They don’t resonate with that. They travel with purpose and travel with cause”

Rodgers used an example of ’cause’ being Adventure World’s wildlife policy in Scandinavia.

“Of course, we’re going to make a travel agent aware that when they are booking clients these beautiful lodges we use in Scandinavia, the set menu features Minke Whale. Yes, that happens.

“We make our AW guests aware that this is a traditional custom, they serve it, so inform your clients. It’s a set menu and we can’t change it.”

Another example is the Calgary Stampede, a product that has been a huge seller for Adventure World for several decades, and similarly Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. Both programs have been shelved. Adventure World dropped the Calgary Stampede two years ago and Giraffe Manor six months ago.

“Our clients would thank us for that,” he said.

For the so-called ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’, the concern was only the horse-drawn chuckwagon races which are against AW’s policy. Rodgers says the operator is however keen to offer a solution.

“You’ll remember when we stopped elephant-back riding in 2012. People are saying you’re going too far, but the same thing was said about elephant back rides a decade ago.”

Rodgers says Adventure World has evolved over the years. “People used to say Adventure World sold everything, but no. Now we’re not. It’s a tailored product.

Multi-generation uptick

Further, Rodgers says Adventure World has seen a groundswell in multigenerational travel since the pandemic.

“Our [Baby] Boomers have reached an age where they only cruise now. And how do we get them on land product?”

“They still want to travel. The biggest trend we’ve seen with the bucket-list boomers is they’re scared to go overseas because of the regulations of COVID. They’re scared if they put an extra zero on a number form that they’re not going to be allowed in the country.

“And their kids can’t afford to go on holidays because of the increasing price of flights, plus interest rates.

“These Boomers are all retired and have no mortgages – they probably have shares, they’re all cashed up.

“Never have I seen so many multi-gen trips, because nan and pop want the comfort of taking everybody away – but it also takes away that insecurity element – so everybody is going with nan and pop. And that’s a massive thing for us…all bucket lists destinations.

“I’ve never really focused on families before. The beautiful thing with AW is all tailor-made, so we’ll simply book family rooms to cater for those guests.

Meanwhile, Rodgers revealed to LATTE that Adventure World will soon launch a new partnership with the Australian Museum for the upcoming Ramses exhibition. That blockbuster will attract some one million people between November and March next year. Furthermore, a partnership between Adventure World and the Auckland Museum and its Pharaohs exhibit will debut in New Zealand from June.

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