Adventure Excursions Unlimited

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Travel Agency Business Plan

Market Analysis Summary

Travel industry is an upward growth industry. There are several reasons for this increase. First, a relative healthy domestic economy over the last several years and the devaluation of currency in other regions has made travel less expensive for U.S. residents. Pleasure travel has increased by 3.2% in 1999 and is predicted to grow 2.0% in 2000. Second, the healthy economy has increased business, which in turn boosted domestic business travel 4.8% in 1999 with an estimated increase of 3.6% in 2000.

Adventure travel is a growing segment of the travel industry. One theory of the recent increase in extreme sports has to do with the strong competitive nature of younger Americans. Statistics show that 8,000 U.S. companies (that offer adventure packages) generated $7 billion in 1999. There also has been a 66% increase in executive participation between 1996 and 2000 (or an increase of 2,000 participants)(La Franco, Robert. Forbes, Feb 9, 1998 v161 n3 p168(3)).

Some quick facts:

  • Adventure travelers: More than 50% of the U.S. adult traveling population, or 147 million people, have taken an adventure trip in their lifetime (98 million in the past five years). Thirty-one million adults have engaged in hard-adventure activities like white-water rafting, scuba diving and mountain biking. An additional 25 million engaged in both a hard- and soft-adventure activity. Six-percent of those who participated in adventure trips spent more than $2,500.
  • Activities most commonly participated in during adventure vacations: camping (85%), hiking (74%), skiing (51%), snorkeling or scuba diving (30%), sailing (26%), kayaking or white-water rafting (24%), and biking trips (24%).
  • Biking vacations: Twenty-seven million travelers with customers that tend to be young and affluent. Ages 18-34 and one-fourth are from household's w/annual income of $75,000 or above.

4.1 Market Segmentation

AEU's target customers are high income (min. $75,000 for single person), health-conscious individuals interested in popular hard-adventure sports such as skiing, white-water sports and mountain biking. The major purchasers are located in urban areas within these United States cities.

Customer Location (within the United States):

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. New York
  4. Texas
  5. Illinois
  6. Nevada
  7. Hawaii
  8. New Jersey
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Georgia

Hard-adventure travelers are more likely to be men. Therefore, AEU's primary target market for hard-adventure sports is men between the ages of 18-34. However an increasing number of hard-adventure travelers are women (some statistics suggest that women comprise 49% of the hard-adventure market). Men, on average, spend more than women on their adventure travels.

Customers will be reached through traditional marketing communication methods. Information has been located relating to specific profiles of both hard- and soft-adventure travelers, where they live, work, what they do, etc. Research suggests that many of our target customers, and travelers in general, are Internet savvy. As such, the Internet will serve as an appropriate and effective medium of communication. Many adventure travelers purchase over the Internet or buy through travel agents. Purchase decisions are influenced by the amount of disposable income held, family issues, and the economy of a given year.

AEU will be targeting two specific groups:

  1. High-income health-conscious individuals.
  2. Young, active "trustafarians."

The common elements between these two groups are money and a love for adventures. Group one has a lot of money from income that they earn. Group two has a lot of disposable income because the money was given to them, typically by members of their family. The second group, the trustafarians, is a very small group relative to the first group.

Market Analysis
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Potential Customers Growth CAGR
High-income Health-conscious Individuals 12% 1,300,000 1,456,000 1,630,720 1,826,406 2,045,575 12.00%
Young, Active Trustafarians 5% 500,000 525,000 551,250 578,813 607,754 5.00%
Other 0% 0 0 0 0 0 0.00%
Total 10.19% 1,800,000 1,981,000 2,181,970 2,405,219 2,653,329 10.19%

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

AEU will promote/position itself as a differentiated provider of luxury hard-adventure travel, and will price accordingly within the chosen service niche.

AEU is targeting this special population for several reasons:

  1. This segment, up until now, has been underserved.
  2. This market segment traditionally spends a fair amount of money on adventure trips.
  3. This target segment seems to be willing to pay a premium for a top-shelf adventure excursion.

Methods of communication will include direct mail, magazine advertising, personal selling and WWW presence. Continuous magazine advertising will be costly. Initially the use of direct mail, and personal selling will be employed. These methods of communication will be tailored to reach our target segment.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

As operations progress, AEU will continue to measure our progress relative to competitors and to the growth of the market(s) in which we operate. Though the primary target market has been defined, there may be new possibilities to serve additional segments. As the product is defined, and the strategy differentiation is defined based on competitive strengths, AEU will be better able to determine whether adjustments in positioning are necessary. Access to important information concerning the market, competitors, etc., is available. However it is not free. For the purposes of this project, we feel it is unnecessary to incur additional expense.

The marketing strategy will be to develop long-term relationships with customers. We will keep a database from which to obtain important demographic and psychographic information. As the business becomes profitable, plans will be implemented to expand. There is virtually no limit to the number and variety of trips AEU can provide. Trips can take place on every continent and in most countries. The goal is to establish AEU as an international provider of top-of-the-line hard-adventure travel.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

Strengths and weaknesses of the competitors:

The competitors in this market are of two primary types. First there is the adventure provider who specializes in a single type of hard-adventure activity such as white-water rafting. They typically serve clients who purchase trips for less than $2,000 (and closer to the mean purchase price of around $900). Their strength is their expertise in a given sport. Their weakness is that they provide an undifferentiated product in a competitive market. In addition, they do not have the resources, ability or desire to target and/or accommodate a customer demanding more accommodation and a more luxury/adventure-oriented service.

Companies that offer higher-priced, more luxurious packages generally provide a "soft" adventure. The activities are more along the lines of sightseeing and low-risk alternatives. The advantages these companies have include established reputations, extensive knowledge of the industry, and key personnel and management. Some have been in operation for more than twenty years. They are familiar with local service providers and have established strategic relationships.

Disadvantages to us:

  • It will be difficult to price ourselves competitively when we first enter the market.
  • Many of AEU's activities are seasonal. Recurring revenue will depend upon successful trips in various regions of the world. For example, ski trips will end in April in North America. AEU will then have to move ski operations to places like Las Lenas, Argentina.
  • The weather for a given year is hard to predict. Poor conditions will threaten the success of trips. Unforeseen occurrences such as inadequate snowfall could effect the viability of activities such as skiing and white-water sports.

Closely related competitors:

Abercrombie & Kent: A well-established, international travel provider. Their focus is mainly on "soft" adventure packages such as safaris, river tours (e.g. Amazon), trekking, sightseeing, etc. However they do offer a "Connoisseur" line of packages. These are generally priced starting from $4,000-7,000. Some of their packages include white-water activities and hiking, however most are touring packages.

Competing or substitute products:

There are many activities and types of travel available to people contemplating a vacation. Theme parks, motorhome trips, and cruises are just a few. Substitutes could include less expensive, self-planned trips, trips geared towards soft-travel, adventure trips involving hunting or fishing as primary activities, or exclusive adventure trips such as personal submarine tours of the Titanic or a trip around the world in a Leer Jet. Many activities that take place outside and involve some level of risk could be seen as hard-adventure competition.

Another alternative is to do nothing. Consumers do not have to vacation. They may opt to spend the money they would have otherwise spent on a vacation on something else.