Aggressor Adventures Charts New Waters on the Client Engagement Front

Aggressor Adventures has taken a deep dive into ramping up its client engagements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most notably, the tour operator, which specializes in liveaboard scuba diving itineraries, has partnered with dive suppliers and manufacturers to offer incentives for customers to buy their products—thus keeping them engaged and ready to use those products once the coronavirus is suppressed.

“We have had a great response from their customers sending us receipts showing the proof of purchase so they can receive a voucher for future use with us,” said Aggressor Adventures CEO Wayne Brown. “We have also had other suppliers hear about the program and ask if we can partner with them.”

Although Aggressor doesn’t receive a portion of those sales, “we see the access to their customers for potential future sales with us as more than ample compensation and hope it has helped their sales as well,” he said.

The company is also engaging its clients in a variety of other ways, as well. “We have a very extensive list, that continues to grow, of customer engagement initiatives. Our first was to ensure all the destination staff follow our ‘Clean, Sanitize & Refresh’ program for deep cleaning and sanitizing, as well as refreshing linens, painting and repairs,” Brown said. “They then send us weekly photos and videos that we post to our social media, as well as create video montages to post.”

Additionally, Aggressor has featured its chefs around the world to create three- to five-minute videos for its “Cooking with Chef” series, with a focus on favorite local dishes. “These are shared on Facebook, as well as our site,” he said.

The company is conducting twice-weekly Zoom sessions, some of which are hosted by celebrities. Sessions include talks with Les Stroud, creator and star of “Survivorman,” who shares his past and upcoming adventures with Richard Wiese, Explorer Club president and host of the “Born To Explore” television show.

The Zoom sessions also feature yacht captions who provide details on their destinations.

“An upcoming [session will focus] on how we will keep our guests as safe a possible once operations resume with all the updated procedures and sanitizing efforts,” Brown said. “We will be announcing in an upcoming eNews letter to our guests about June Ocean Clean Up Month, asking them to help with local waters, whether that be salt or fresh water, and to send us pictures and videos of them cleaning up for us to share.”

The operator also launched the Aggressor Addicts Facebook group for guests who have traveled with the company at least once; it is running fun weekly contests, enabling group members to win gifts and vouchers.

Looking to expand beyond the dive market, Aggressor began adding river cruising and safari lodges to its portfolio several years ago. “Moving into river cruises was an easy transition. Adding safari lodges in places with unique cultures and environments was the next step to further expand the adventures a guest can participate in with us,” Brown said. “I have adhered to our small group bespoke offerings with these new adventures also. Having only 16 to 22 guests allows us to connect personally with each guest and ensure they get the most out of their time with us.”

More than half us Aggressor’s reservations come from travel advisors, Brown said. “We have always heavily supported them with free advertising and marketing materials, and even offer them a commission should one of their past customers start booking directly with us.”

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G Adventures founder sees opportunity for industry to reset refocus

The Covid-19 global shutdown has taken the travel industry back to ground zero, G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip says, offering travelers and travel companies an opportunity for a much-needed reset.

Poon Tip explores the evolution of travel and what he asserts is the need to get back to the basic reasons behind it in a new minibook being released today, titled “Unlearn.”

The book highlights tales from his own travels, the sustainability values at the core of G Adventures and the evolution of mass market products like cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts, which he asserts have made amenities more important than destinations.

The key takeaway from the pandemic for travelers before they hit the road again?

“For people to get connected to the destination, for the destination to actually be the reason why people travel,” he said in a May 8 interview. “We’ve lost that. People book based on amenities.  That is what is being sold and the destination now has become irrelevant.”

With the travel shutdown, he said, all companies will have to restart from ground zero, “and we all have to transform  to realize how we connect as a planet.”

As for his own business, Poon Tip said the pandemic has taught him that G Adventures needs to tighten up considerably.

“Because we deal with a lot of small, family-owned businesses, things got quite loose for us in terms of relationships, contract payments,” he said. “Now we are dealing with it on both sides, with us owing people and people owing us.”

Poon Tip says now that G Adventures has gone through the tough process of downsizing staff and dealing with other immediate impacts of the global travel shutdown, it will begin reassessing its products for a post-Covid travel world, including whether to offer more local and shorter experiences as travel restrictions are lifted.

“We are having those discussions now,” he said. ” But we haven’t hit bottom yet. While we’re freefalling, it’s hard to look until we land.”

The e-book is available free on Apple Books. Poon Tip has written two other books: “Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business” and “Do Big Small Things.”

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