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Adventure Excursions Unlimited (AEU) has been operating for several months now.  The trips have been well received, and marketing is now critical to its continued success and future profitability.  AEU offers high-end hard adventure trips.  The basic market need is hard adventure trips for the wealthy client.  This target market appreciates upscale accommodations, gourmet food, and personalized attention.  AEU will meet this market need with a variety of trip offerings.

Market Summary

AEU possess good information about the market and knows a great deal about the common attributes of our most prized and loyal customers.  AEU will leverage this information to better understand who is served, their specific needs, and how AEU can better connect with them.

Market Analysis

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Market Analysis
Potential CustomersGrowth     CAGR
High-income health-conscious individuals12%1,300,0001,456,0001,630,7201,826,4062,045,57512.00%
Young, active "trustafarians"5%500,000525,000551,250578,813607,7545.00%

Market Needs

AEU is providing its customers with a wide selection of hard adventure trips for wealthy clients. Virtually all companies that provide "hard" adventure activities appeal to a lower income client. Companies that appeal to a wealthier clientele generally provide "soft" adventure packages. Hard adventure activities involve difficult physical requirements. They carry a higher level of risk than do "soft" activities. Soft adventure activities may involve some physical exertion, however they involve a low level of risk and can be engaged in by non-athletic people. AEU seeks to fulfill the following benefits that are important to their customers.

  • Selection: A wide selection of different hard adventure trips.
  • Accessibility: The customer can be located anywhere as long as they have access to an airport.
  • Customer attention: The patron will be impressed with the level of personal attention that they receive.
  • Competitive prices: Although AEU is priced at the top of the market, providing a luxury service with prestige value, AEU will be priced competitively with the few other high-end service providers.

The travel industry is in an upward growth mode. 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 offer adventure packages that generated $7 billion in 1999. There also has been a 66% increase in executive participation between 1996 and 2000 (or an increase of 3,000 to 5,000)(La Franco, Robert. Forbes, Feb 9, 2000 v161 n3 p168(3)).

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. 31 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: 27 million travelers, customers tend to be young and affluent. Ages 18-34 and one fourth are from household's w/annual income of $75,000 or more.

Market Growth

In 1999, the adventure travel market generated $7 billion dollars.  The market is poised for growth.  This growth can be attributed to several factors.  The first factor is an increased appreciation for travel.  More and more people are recognizing the value in spending their free time away from home, participating in activities that they enjoy.

Another variable that is contributing to this market growth is that as Americans continue to work longer and longer work hours, they also are looking for adventure travel vacations that offer a release from their day to day work.  Our target market works hard, but also plays hard.  When they do take time off from work, they choose an activity that they thoroughly enjoy, to a large degree because vacation occurs somewhat infrequently.

SWOT Analysis

The following SWOT analysis captures the key strengths and weaknesses within the company, and describes the opportunities and threats facing AEU.


  • Low customer to employee ratio.
  • Excellent staff who are highly trained and very customer attentive.
  • High customer loyalty among repeat customers.
  • A truly unique, high end, service offering.


  • A challenge to find employees who possess the necessary skills and customer-centric attitude.
  • The struggle to continuously offer new and exciting trips while maintaining the level of quality that is established over time from repetitive trip offerings.
  • Having a customer base located throughout the U.S. preventing AEU from in-person communication.


  • Growing market that has yet to be adequately addressed.
  • Growing number of young professionals with the recent dotcom boom.
  • The ability to spread fixed management overhead costs over an increasing number of offered trips.


  • A slump in the economy will affect the travel industry.
  • An increase in terrorist acts will chill Americans perception of safety when traveling, whether in the United States or abroad.
  • The entrance of other service providers into AEU's niche.


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. They can therefore offer trips at a lower price.

Disadvantages to us:

  • It will be difficult to price ourselves competitively when we first enter the market.
  • Many of the 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:

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 $4-7,000. 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, motor home 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.

Service Offering

AEU will position itself as a niche service provider within the hard adventure market.AEU will offer high-quality travel packages for extreme sporting trips. As a start up, AEU will offer six trips: helicopter-skiing trips to Canada, India, and New Zealand, white water rafting trips to New Zealand and Costa Rica and a mountain biking trip along the Great Divide from Montana to New Mexico.

The target market will be made up of young professionals who work and play hard.These people can afford to play expensively and are willing to buy time in the form of our services.AEU will serve the hard adventure niche market as a top quality, full service provider.AEU defines quality by the unique aspects of the services offered.Those aspects include booking group or custom trips, assistance with passports, providing top of the line equipment and supplies, and a superior service offering with access to better terrain, luxury accommodations, entertainment, celebrity exposure, and gourmet food.

The tours to be offered are as follows:

Mountain Bike Tours
This event will take place on the Great Divide trail from Montana to New Mexico and is designed for the serious biker that appreciates a few of life's comforts along the trail.  Showers and gourmet meals will be provided along with entertainment.  All excursions will maintain a staff to client ratio of 1:2.

A map system has been created by Adventure Cycling and is currently available for purchase. The map clearly indicates the route, places to camp, stores for food and laundromats. It is totally comprehensive. Leadership training for the guides will be developed in-house using some outside material. There are many similar organizations that will be good sources of information.

The products needed for this trip are for the most part already manufactured. One item that needs to be designed and built is a privacy compartment for the solar shower. This will be designed by Jordan and manufactured in-house. A cookbook will also be assembled. This will be a collection of simple recipes including some personal favorites. Professional cooks will be provided and flown in if necessary.

Helicopter skiing has become a popular alternative to resort skiing.  It offers uncrowded access to the best terrain.  For those who like to get off the beaten path heli-skiing is for them.  AEU has planned annual and custom trips to three destinations.  Everything will be taken care of for the customer.  Transportation, lodging, transfers and skiing is included in the package.  Although our trips are planned at peak ski seasons, mother nature can not be predicted.  In the event that the weather is too treacherous to ski the trip will be postponed.  An in-house travel consultant will accompany each group and take care of all check in and transfer issues.

AEU will not send clients to places we ourselves would not go.All service providers will be top-notch professionals with accomplished backgrounds. They will be medically trained and evaluated for knowledge and ability to ensure safety and high quality service. If they fail, at any time, to meet our rigid standards of quality, they will not be used. If quality falls, another provider will replace them. These activities take place outside of the United States and therefore we will hire local guides to accompany our professional guides and service providers.

White Water Sports
New Zealand  and Costa Rica were chosen for these hard adventure excursions.  The trips will be ten days long, with a maximum of ten people per group  Annual trips will be planned to each location, but for large enough private groups, custom trips can be planed.  As with the heli-skiing trips, local guides will be used in addition to our own.  The creation of the trips will be done in-house. The abroad trips will be a cooperative effort in-house as well as local guides in the host countries. The choice to seek outside consulting for the trips abroad is due to each countries different legal and regulatory climate.  The potential subcontractors and guides are individuals currently in the industry in their respective countries.

The different trips all have different pricing schemes, however, the trips in general will be from $1,000-$5,000 per week.

Keys to Success

Customer attention, customer attention, customer attention.

Critical Issues

Adventure Excursions Unlimited is still in the speculative stages as service provider.  Its critical issues are:

  • Continue to take a moderate fiscal approach; expand at a reasonable rate, not for the sake of expansion in itself but because it is economically wise to.
  • Continue to build brand awareness which will drive customers to AEU.

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