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Antarctica: truly beyond

When early explorers boldly embarked on their expeditions, they lacked the opportunity to travel in the luxury that people enjoy today. Now we can venture to the ends of the Earth in comfort and style, savoring spectacular adventures to distant destinations like Antarctica.

For travel advisors who don’t regularly book this type of travel, it can seem like a daunting task. But with the right training and support, any advisor can become a polar travel specialist. The rewards are hefty commissions and a high level of satisfaction in making their clients’ dreams come true. If you’re considering this niche, here’s what you need to know…

Why do people want to go to Antarctica?
First, it is important to understand why people travel to polar destinations. Is it wildlife watching that piques their curiosity, activities like sea kayaking, or their particular interest in photography or science?

Sue Vincent, travel manager at Independent by Flight Centre, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said: “Antarctica appeals to people seeking a connection (or reconnection) to Earth, through amazing wildlife and unique, spectacular landscapes, fresh and cold air. , and to meet other like-minded people who love nature and are looking for an outdoor adventure.”

Ann Valley, vacation travel consultant with Bayside Travel in Wisconsin, noted: “For most people, this is the last continent if they attempt to visit all seven. For others, it is the desire to visit before global warming creates changes that will alter the experience.

Best practice is to listen carefully to your customers’ travel wishes and desires, looking for clues that a polar trip might motivate and excite them.

What types of travelers are good prospects for polar adventures?
Experienced travelers with good disposable income and an inquisitive mindset, as well as a penchant for adventure and discovery, are good prospects for polar cruises and land adventures.

“It is an expensive trip and involves a lot of travel just to get to the boarding point. So most of the customers are older and retired and they have the money and the time to spend on this type of trip” Valley said, “They’re usually hungry for exploration of a destination that’s popular but limited and accessible to only a few.”

But don’t limit your sales efforts to just the older clientele, as younger travelers are increasingly interested in making meaningful trips to cold places.

Shari Tucker, travel consultant at Love the Way You Travel, based in Halifax, and specialist in adventure and responsible tourism, explained: “Although the clientele for Antarctica travel is generally older because retirees tend having more time and money does not exclude people in their 30s and 40s. With so many remote jobs and flexible vacations these days, people at the heart of their working lives have more flexibility and often more disposable income than in the past. They also tend to have children later in life, if at all, which means their spending and saving habits are very different from the trend 30-40 years ago.

Consider these tips from Tucker when prospecting the polar travel niche:

  • Look in your business book for clients who are looking for different experiences, who don’t follow guidebooks and who regularly talk about experiencing nature.
  • Tell your adventurous customers who say they never want to go on a cruise how the “cruise” expedition to Antarctica is completely different from your typical Mediterranean or Caribbean cruise.
  • Look for customers who enjoy sailing small vessels.
  • Target your customers based on their interests rather than their age, including 30-somethings, women traveling alone, and retired couples.

What are the barriers to selling polar adventures and how do you overcome them?
For some, the biggest obstacle is “the cold!” Vallee commented. “When people hear polar, they automatically think so, so cold. But if you take the time to discuss how to prepare for your stay on the continent and go over packing and clothing recommendations, it will reassure them. .

For others, the cost of travel can be a barrier. “Price can certainly be a challenge in selling polar adventures. There really is no such thing as a ‘cheap’ trip to Antarctica, and there shouldn’t be,” Tucker said.

Here are some suggestions from Tucker on how she helps guests justify the cost, even though it may be double or triple their typical vacation:

  • Talk about the unique experiences they will have and how in ten years it won’t be the same.
  • Focus on the interests of your customers and match them with the right cruise or expedition line. If they are interested in science, find a ship that offers citizen science on board. If they are excellent photographers, make sure there is a photography program on board. If they are divers or kayakers, be sure to introduce the companies that offer these options. Selling will become more about experience and less about price.
  • Present options based on total price, then if you find a discount or special, you look like a rock star. If you present based on selling price first, customers will rarely want to pay more.
  • If you’ve presented multiple options for businesses and/or room categories and guests are hesitant about price, ask them what amenities or special inclusions they could do without. From there, you can either find a less inclusive option, or customers will find they have to pay the price for the trip they dream of.
  • Give customers permission to spend money on amazing experiences for themselves. Sometimes customers just need to be reminded that they are worth it.
  • Let them know that there are different payment options and encourage them to take advantage of early booking promotions or early payment offers.

What should you look for in a polar travel supplier partner?
With polar travel being such a specialty, one of the keys to success is establishing a relationship with a trusted and knowledgeable supplier. Look for a supplier who: knows Antarctica well and has local guides; respects and protects the environment and its wildlife; educates travelers; works with small groups; and offers excellent off-ship adventure activities.

Participate in training programs provided by the supplier and ask if they have a dedicated marine team representative you can speak with to learn more. Take the time to learn about the ins and outs of polar travel, including ships, experiences on board and ashore, optional activities and booking terms and conditions.

Now that travel is resuming, people are eager to go and do all the things they haven’t been able to do in two and a half years. They have money to spend. There is a mindset and an urgency to leave now to see and appreciate what we have, while we still have it. Nobody knows what the future holds and people don’t want to wait “one day” to take the trip of their dreams. As Vincent said, “Now is the perfect time to envision those harder-to-reach destinations and make the magic happen.”

FROM THE SPONSOR:
Intrepid Travel is a global leader in sustainable, experience-rich travel that has been taking travelers to discover the world’s most amazing places for over 30 years. Our mission is to create positive change through the joy of travel. We offer over 1,150 trips to every continent, designed to truly experience the local culture. Recognized globally as a leader in responsible travel, in 2018 as a carbon neutral company, Intrepid became the world’s largest travel agency to be B-Corp certified and is the only global tour operator with carbon reduction targets verified and scientifically based. As a true operator on seven continents, this includes travel to Antarctica, which has become a top destination for Intrepid travellers. Travel advisors can participate in specialist training, attend live events with polar experts, visit the Intrepid Polar Resource Center once registered on the online booking portal, and speak with Intrepid’s dedicated marine team Travel by phone, live chat or email for more information.

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