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The wellness tourism market is a huge pie that's perfect for tour and activity operators to slice into. Global wellness tourism has risen to become a nearly $500 billion market, according to the Global Wellness Summit. While this industry includes mind and body retreats, in also encompasses fitness vacations and adventure travel focused around improving a sense of well-being or improving life balance.

Tour and activity operators can take advantage of this demand for health and wellness-oriented vacations by offering experiences that focus on healthy living or recreational activities for a more balanced life—guided hiking adventures, rainforest excursions, half-day biking tours, and boating trips are just a few experiential travel options for travelers in need of that much-needed escape to restore work-life balance.

Here's a closer look at the ongoing demand for active tourism and a few ways tour and activity operators can capitalize on this emerging trend:

Understanding The Adventure Tourism Market

A recent Adventure Tourism Market Study, conducted by George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association, revealed several emerging trends among adventure travelers around the globe. One key finding relevant to tour and activity companies: adventure travelers were much more likely to turn to guides, tour operators, and instructors to plan their trip. According to the study, during their previous trips, 22 percent of adventure travelers used a guide, 18 percent turned to a tour operator, and 13 percent used an instructor.

So positioning your business as an authority in adventure trip planning and understanding this demographic better can help you generate more business from this highly active market each season.

Some other takeaways from this study:

  • Adventure travelers turn to social media and consult friends and family only when researching different options

  • 78 percent of adventure travelers use Facebook

  • The typical adventure travelers spent an average of $947 in 2012 with the average length of the trip being 10 days

  • Adventure travelers cited relaxation, exploring new places, spending time with family, and learning about different cultures as most important to their travel experiences.

Organized Adventure Activities and Fitness Retreats

Whether you're a kayak tour operator or sell biking tours, consider creating special packages and exclusive experiences specifically for the wellness traveler or adventure seeker. Organized group trips, seasonal retreats, and fitness-oriented programs may be attractive to travelers looking for activities that support their healthy lifestyle. You could offer seasonal packages based around a certain theme, such as winter getaways, back-to-school retreats, or even holiday escape packages.

Another option is to focus on the health benefits of vacations. The U.S. Travel Association reports that leisure contributes to overall well-being and has positive effects on both physical and mental health. In addition, an annual vacation can cut a person's risk of a heart attack by 50 percent. So you can appeal to the wellness market by promoting your activities and experiences as a way to reap health and wellness benefits.

A few ideas for tour and activity operators:

Relaxation Getaways

But high-energy activities aren't the only way to tap into this trend. There's also an ongoing demand for relaxation getaway—trips planned around stress reduction, pampering, and an escape from the hustle and bustle. Spafinder reports on the growing demand for traveling to "destination spas," where guests travel to a resort or hotel specifically for wellness-immersive retreats and activities. The International Spa Association defines destinations spas as properties "with the primary purpose of guiding individuals to develop healthy habits."

From weight loss bootcamps to meditation retreats, these destinations cater to wellness travelers with a variety of activities that complement their healthy lifestyle message. Consider that many of these spas and resort destinations will be looking for local activity providers when putting together their programming. If you offer tours or activities that may complement a destination spa's program—yoga classes or healthy eating cooking classes, for instance—consider reaching out to offer discounted pricing or exclusive packages for spa guests. This can be a simple and effective way to co-market your business and generate referrals throughout the year.

Promoting Your Healthy Living or Wellness Message

Statistics from the aforementioned Adventure Travel Market Study and MDG Advertising confirm that many travelers turn to social media to research travel options—52 percent of travelers use social media to find vacation inspiration and 29 percent count on Facebook for trip planning ideas. A recent study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT found that two out of three U.S. consumers watch online travel videos when thinking about a trip. You can take advantage of these trends by posting videos or video testimonials about your business on your website and social media sites.

Whether you're promoting specific wellness activities and packages, or sharing photos and videos of adventure experiences, the goal is to engage social media users on their favorite platforms. Consider adding an online booking option on your website and Facebook page so that interested travelers can complete their reservation without even making a phone call. With platforms like ZOZI Advance, you can set up a secure online booking checkout process and also follow up with the guest with an automated email confirmation.

As more travelers seek out leisure activities to de-stress and keep up with their healthy lifestyle, tour and activity operators can appeal to this growing market by promoting their adventure activities and opportunities for planning an escape. Whether you sell land or water-based excursions, consider tailoring some of your marketing efforts specifically for wellness and fitness travelers.