News and Insights

How Outdoor Tourism is Adapting to Climate’s Impact on Adventure Travel

March 19, 2024

PR Week recently wrote a piece about the impact of rising temperatures on travelers’ decision-making processes, and the way brands and destinations are evolving their marketing to appeal to this consumer consciousness. Marcomm strategists who specialize in brands and destinations that are rooted in the outdoors are leading the charge: before coolcations were a trend, outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons have been making travel and purchase decisions based on climate and conditions.

Of course, skiers, snowboarders and winter enthusiasts plan their bucket lists and schedule their trips around powder predictions, which this winter has proven is less predictable than ever. The same goes for summer enthusiasts, from hikers and bikers to climbers and runners. Interest in outdoor warm-weather activity continues to grow exponentially. According to the USDA, the number of adult hikers in the US is projected to reach 102.2 million by 2030, up from 78.3 million in 2008. At the same time, rising temperatures and growing risk of wildfires impedes access to trails and has a negative impact on our overall health, according to Consumer Lifestyle & Sports client, Protect Our Winters (POW).

Adventure and outdoor-fueled travel will continue to boom, it’s just a matter of what activities will be available and what gear travelers are packing, and destinations are adapting.

Travel and tourism clients come to us (the Consumer Lifestyle & Sports team at FINN) because of our decades working in outdoor, wellness, sports and travel/tourism. It’s an interesting and unusual intersection, because you need to have experts in each arena beyond traditional travel in order to contribute ideas and intelligence that really make a difference. A trusted agency team with the right expertise will broaden the audience in the right ways.

As marketers in this space, we are thinking much more holistically about the impact of rising temperatures, and ways to engage travelers with increasingly diversified interests to flatten the peaks and valleys of seasonal travel. A few examples: client Visit Salt Lake is promoting hiking trails and climbing experiences within the city limits; Alberta is drawing attention to river surfing opportunities; and St. Kitts has capitalized on the long-term success of its annual summer music festival to introduce an entire Summer of Fun, rich with culinary and cultural experiences and outdoor adventures.

As a result of this refined approach, our clients in outdoor/active destinations are thriving. Alberta (CAN) saw $10.72 billion CAD in tourism spending in 2022, up $600 million from 2019 levels, and driving approximately 80,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and resorts like The St. Regis Aspen have record occupancies.

Consumers have long chosen travel destinations that give them new experiences at the optimal times of year. Capitalizing on the coolcation trend is about more than escaping the heat: it is all about strategic 12-month marketing, helping consumers visualize the year-round experiences our clients have to offer – particularly in the worlds of outdoor and wellness.

TAGS: Sports Marketing, Consumer & Lifestyle

POSTED BY: Samantha Lacher

Samantha Lacher