About 20 suppliers of outdoor equipment, footwear and apparel participated in the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) organized by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) in the Swedish city of Gothenburg on Sept. 16-19. With the cooperation of Ispo, ten of them exhibited their products for the first time during the convention in the context of a new “Adventure Gear Trail” to develop new relationships with some of the 750-plus delegates who attended the convention.

Participants discovered some very interesting new opportunities to do business together in a sales channel that they had not really explored in depth. Some of the participating outdoor brands had already established creative marketing and sales packages specifically for adventure travel companies, but some of them found the convention’s new exhibition format to be very effective.

One of the suppliers, Light My Fire of Sweden, got offers to collaborate from almost one-third of the delegates. Another, Alfa Outdoor of Norway, said it met many potential new customers, discussing solutions with pro users of outdoor shoes for all kinds of outdoor activities “in all kinds of environments on our planet.”

Other participants made actual deals on the floor or established new influential relationships. Besides Light My Fire and Alfa, other exhibitors included companies such as Pacsafe, Royal Robbins, Craghoppers, Thule, NRS, Grayl, Norwegian Eye and Devold of Norway. They were joined by about ten members of the Scandinavian Outdoor Group, including Fjällräven, Icebug and Lundhags, which did not have a stand.

ATTA, which boasts more than 1,300 members, groups organizers of outdoor expeditions and other types of tour operators involved in adventure tourism in about 100 countries around the world. As previously reported in our publication, ATTA began to approach the outdoor industry seriously by entering a partnership with Ispo last February (Compass Vol. 12 N° 11+12 of June 28), leading it to organize five workshops and seminars in a dedicated “hub” during the first OutDoor by Ispo show.

During the fair, ATTA and the European Outdoor Group (EOG) started discussing ways to cooperate. Participants in the ATTA forums during the OutDoor by Ispo show expressed interest in recommendations for a legal template to govern contracts for the sale or rental of outdoor apparel and equipment to members of the adventure travel sector for the benefit of their customers.

In some cases, existing territorial distribution contracts allow suppliers to deal directly with these types of operators, as they do with key accounts, but in other cases they have full exclusivity over all kinds of deals. In some cases, travel operators cannot buy merchandise without a mark-up unless they have a retail account. In other cases, the distribution contracts are limited to a particular channel, such as fishing or hunting dealers. Adventure travel can be a specific sales channel, too, and it can give more visibility to the brands themselves. ATTA’s membership represents a community that reaches over 50 million active travelers worldwide.

Chris Doyle, executive director of ATTA Europe, will have another opportunity to present his ideas for collaboration at the European Outdoor Summit opening in Interlaken, Switzerland, on Thursday. He is expected to propose that the outdoor brands should engage directly with the global adventure tourism community to explore and co-create new distribution solutions such as gear rental/lending programs, guide pro-deals and sales of good-quality merchandise to their guests at a discount.

Reportedly, a brand like Icebreaker draws revenues of about €600,000 a year from this type of collaboration, partly by selling T-shirts to travel operators that then give them to their customers as a gift. Another company in our sector, Bergans of Norway, has acquired a tour operator that rents its own sleeping bags for Arctic expeditions.

A survey conducted by ATTA shows that the adventure travel industry generated global revenues estimated at $693 million in 2017, after growing at a compound annual rate of 21 percent since 2012.

A more recent survey indicated that 97 percent of the operators want to test the products before buying them or participate in their development. It also showed that 94 percent of adventure travelers are interested in sustainably sourced and manufactured products.