Like the creation of any itinerary, scheduling an active tour for a client requires careful attention to detail, but this time the session may seem more like a medical examination than a casual getting-to-know-you appointment: How fit is your client? Is there a medical history to consider? When planned right, the results are beneficial to both the client and you.
"Agents should know the business of outdoor adventure is really growing," says Nadia Le Bon, director of polar and special programs for Mountain Travel Sobek in Emeryville, CA. "We're not like the cruise companies, but it's a good commission. There is an opportunity to make good money."
Many active tour packages are commissionable and, in most cases, the tour company will arrange the trip—all you have to do is book the flight. It sounds easy enough, but finding the right tour to fit your client is where the hard work comes in.
"Except for the family tours, our client is typically 45 to 60 years in age and well-traveled," says Carolyn Fox, director of marketing and public relations for Country Walkers in Waterbury, VT. At Country Walkers, which specializes in guided walks around the world, tours are rated from "easy" to "challenging." Fox suggests talking with the client beforehand to find out their interests and whether they've done an active tour in the past. "The amount of walking should be known before the trip is taken. It's an active tour, so you want to be ready to participate."
If you're unsure whether a tour is the right fit for a client, ask the tour operator. "We have an intimate knowledge of the tour, whether it's well walked or loose fitting," Fox says. Over the years Country Walkers has guided people from all walks of life. "We've had people who are visually impaired on our tours, we have refrigeration for diabetes medication—we've had people with a variety of disabilities and we're certainly willing to accommodate them if we can," she adds.
However, tours such as the ones that Le Bon runs at Mountain Travel Sobek tend to explore more remote areas, most of which are substantially more rigorous. "We always recommend that travelers hike three to four hours a day for a couple of weekends before the trip," she says, noting that some trips are rated as easy. "Some people train on the StairMaster at the gym, and that's fine too." Furthermore, on rafting trips, Le Bon says there's not a lot of space to carry extra equipment. "I would say the best clients for our trips are ones that are in good shape, enjoy hiking and can go a week or so without a shower." Like Fox, Le Bon recommends consulting the tour operator if you're not sure a client would be up for such a trip. "It could be intimidating to sell these odd, remote trips," she notes. "Use us as a resource. Ask questions and we can certainly help you sell it. If you ask the hard questions," she advises, "your client can still have an extraordinary experience."
BikeToursDirect www.biketoursdirect.com 877-462-2423Prices range $600 - $1,500. Outsourcing arrangement with no split commission; agencies must charge their own service fee.
Cadence Cycling & Multisport Centers www.cadencecycling.com 1-8PROCYCLNG or 215-508-4300 Prices are around $10,000. Willing to work with agents, but has no set commission rate; agents may have to charge their own fee.
Chukka Caribbean Adventures www.chukkacaribbean.com 876-953-6699 Price depends on trip; ranges from $48 for kids to $80 for adults. Offers 10 percent commission.
Country Walkers www.countrywalkers.com 800-464-9255 Trips range $2,000 - $52,000. Offers 10 percent commission.
The Great Canadian Travel Co. www.greatcanadiantravel.com 800-661-3830 Most rates start at about $3,000; "Borneo Revealed" rates start at $1,535 per person, double occpancy; single supplement: $280. Offers 8 percent commission.
Mountain Travel Sobek www.mtsobek.com 888-687-6235 Rates range $1,700 - $10,000. Offers 10 percent commission.
The Wayfarers www.thewayfarers.com 800-249-4620 Prices start at about $3,000. Offers 10 percent commission.