Last month, Intrepid Travel invited 10 Thomson agents who had never experienced an adventure holiday before on a fam trip to Andorra.
Aside from gaining a greater awareness of the kind of activities the operator offers, the first-hand experience undoubtedly helps when selling, says Andrew Turner, business development manager at Intrepid.
Dwayne McFarlane, manager of Thomson in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, says: “I’d never done anything like it so I was nervous and worried that I wouldn’t manage the activities.
“But the trip was amazing from start to finish. The guides were brilliant and made us feel at ease. If you were nervous they encouraged you and made you feel safe.”
“One agent was petrified at the start, but by the end she was one of the most excited to tell clients”
For Warren Smith, a travel consultant at Thomson Superstore in Crayford, Kent, the stand-out experiences included hiking through Siscaro National Park and canyoning. “The week was full of amazing experiences, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of doing.
“Particular highlights were hiking up beautiful mountains with spectacular views across the Pyrenees. The camaraderie in the group kept us all going and when we reached the top of the mountain we felt a real sense of accomplishment.
“My absolute favourite activity had to be the canyoning; wading through rocky rivers, jumping from boulders as high as five metres into fresh water, swimming and climbing through cave-like crevices.”
Turner adds: “None of the agents on the trip had done anything like it before. They were all very sceptical before they got started, but they loved it.
“One agent in particular was petrified at the start, but by the end of the fam she was one of the most excited to tell clients.”
For both McFarlane and Smith, the trip challenged their perception of the typical adventure holiday customer. McFarlane explains: “Before this trip I’d never have chosen an adventure holiday, but I loved it and it made me feel proud of myself to think ‘I can do that’.”
He adds: “I don’t think you can pigeonhole a typical adventure holiday customer - it could be students or older couples who want a local guide and good quality accommodation. It could be families who have done the traditional beach holiday and want to try something different. There is definitely demand out there for this type of action-packed trip.”
Smith agrees: “I had the misconception, like most, that an adventure trip was just for thrill-seeking, adrenalin junkie types but there really is a trip to suit every type of traveller, from culture lovers to adventure seekers, families to singles.”
As well as taking part in the high-octane activities, agents learned how to perfect their Intrepid sales techniques. Turner says that often Thomson agents would default to selling operators such as Hayes & Jarvis when asked about breaks in far-flung locations, rather than considering Intrepid.
“We had to try and get across to the agents that we’re not just about one type of adventure holiday”
He explains that by asking customers just a few more questions they could determine whether Intrepid might in fact be more suitable for them. “The majority of people who go to Intrepid destinations want to see the real side of the destination,” he explains.
“We had to try and get across to the agents that we’re not just about one type of adventure holiday - we offer cultural, food, cycling and overlanding trips among others, and we have 1,600 itineraries at three different levels of comfort.”
Joaquim Tomas, commercial director at Andorra Turisme, adds: “By experiencing the activities for themselves, the Thomson agents have seen the scope of multi-adventures available to customers who are regular adventure holidaymakers, as well as those looking for an alternative summer holiday.
“The very nature of adventure holidays and group participation make the experience particularly memorable - it’s these anecdotal details that are an invaluable tool in creating conversation with their customers.”
Intrepid runs 22 fam trips a year and invites agents who sell Intrepid - whether from independents, miniples or multiples - to attend. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.