I have known Mark Pawlak for a few years now. He is one of these human beings who is always positive, always have new ideas and everything he presents feels genuinely unique and almost a bit trend setting. He is like a young version of Lonely planet´s Geoff Crowther. And as he says, the adventure sector of the tourist trade globally is beginning to boom. So he has been part of starting a new global community of adventure experts on the internet, a social resource that will cover every single adventure sports destination on the planet. And the detailed spot information that the adventure traveler needs is there – they’ve built it for both sides of the adventure sports community: traveler and supplier. Read more below!
How adventure travelers will change travel
The adventure tourism sector is booming! The unprecedented uptake in adventure sports and so called ‘extreme sports’ is changing tourism. And it’s because people want more from their holidays: more excitement, greater challenges, and generally, they want more exciting lives.
However, most adventure sports activities are still niche within the travel market. The big operators have long covered the more popular adventure sports such as skiing and sailing, but the new adventure traveler is looking to book other adventures…
To do this they turn to the local operators – smaller outfits who offer bespoke trips backed up with real expertise.
The information gap
We are always led to believe that the information is out there, online – and it’s just that we need the skills to find it. Well, this just isn’t the case.
I’m sure you’ve all experienced the ‘Google Earth down’ type of search. This is when you are researching a specific spot: a beach, mountain range, scuba site or less commonly known trekking route.
What happens is you filter down. It goes something like this: Wikipedia/ national tourist board / local tourism sites/ and you don’t get the detailed granular, destination specific information you want.
And because the big operators are so powerful and dominate search, you often end up scraping together pieces of very generic – often advertorial – information that’s only really useful if you want to book a package day-trip to get your arse off the beach!
So, what do adventure travelers want?
Here are some answers to a similar question posed recently by the well-respected Adventure Travel Trade Association(ATTA) to its members.
“Each generation demands new innovations and adventure travel operators need to meet them” JAMES THORNTON, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF INTREPID TRAVEL
And how operators might respond:
“Local smaller adventure operators will expand if they can reach target audiences effectively digitally and via social media – which will become one of the key components of the spontaneity and global nature of the next generation of travellers.” ALEXANDRA GREENWOOD, HEAD OF SALES OF HF HOLIDAYS LTD.
So, forget the web of old. The future is all about expert voices and influencers – people who know what they are talking about and can be trusted.
Authority lies in the hands of individuals with the real-world experience. And they don’t even have to be professionals, or editors, or bloggers: they are people like you.
In a socially networked world, with mobile internet access skyrocketing, all the adventure sports community needs is a place it can go to find this information.
If you’ve yet to grasp the scale at which ‘mobile’ is growing, take a look at the recent data from the Pew Research Centre, which suggest that 1 in 4 teenagers use their mobiles as their main way of getting information online.
“In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population,” notes Mary Madden, Senior Researcher and co-author of the report.*
So how do we deliver reliable, authoritative information to the growing adventure sports community which we know is increasingly tech-savvy?
I think we can do it by pooling information from individuals, backing it up with established expert voices all within a TripAdvisor – type package.
Local experts and people power
For 10 years we’ve been working with the world’s leading adventure sports companies (8,000+ local expert providers). For the last 2 years we have been building exploco.com a massively social resource that will cover every single adventure sports destination on the planet.
And the detailed spot information that the adventure traveler needs is there – we’ve built it for both sides of the adventure sports community: traveler and supplier.
At launch there will be 1 million destinations. And to make it fully mobile at launch and meet the expectations of both traveler and local operator, we are crowd sourcing for one month.
If you want to become a founding member there’s lots of perks, or you can just learn more about the campaign then share it with fellow travelers and explorers to help make it happen.
exploco.com – the global community of adventure sports experts – goes live in June.
Look here for more information and to become a founding member of exploco
* ‘Parents, Teens and Online Privacy’ by the Pew Research Centre. Nov 20, 2012.
Mark Pawlak is the media director at Element Internet and co-founder of ‘exploco’ – the global community of adventure sports experts. Blogger, editor and adventure sports enthusiast, Mark leads a groups of expert bloggers picked to represent each adventure sport. When not working he’s to be found cycling, swimming in the sea, or seeking out the next destination or adventure to document.