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Martin Aldrich: The expedition expert

 

TITLE: Business Development Manager
YEARS IN TRAVEL: 4


Where are you based and what is your territory?

I’m based at Adventure Canada’s head office in Port Credit, Ont. My territory is North America and Europe.


How can you help travel agents sell your product?

I started out with Adventure Canada working aboard the expedition ship Ocean Endeavour. First-hand experience of life on board and the intimate knowledge of the destinations to which we travel is the most important area where I can help travel agents. The places we travel, like the High Arctic, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, coastal Labrador and others are not as well-known as your typical destination – so my knowledge and enthusiasm for these places are really useful for agents. Adventure Canada expeditions are all quite different. Each onboard team is unique, hand-picked for their destination-specific expertise. I know the people as well as the places, and that makes a real difference in conveying enthusiasm for the product.


Do agents selling adventure travel generally require a little bit more assistance than mass market tours?

Any type of trip that is not your normal run-of-the-mill mass-market tour is going
to require more explanation and detail. In our case, we are visiting remote locations like the ice fjords of Greenland, or the Inuit hamlets of the Canadian Arctic, or the Torngat Mountains in Labrador. We’re making our daily expedition stops by Zodiac, so it is incredibly important to be able to convey to the client what they are going to experience and how to best prepare them. I use my personal photos from our expeditions to outline a typical experience and I think this has a big impact.


Do you think most agents have a general understanding of the niche?

The general knowledge is on the increase. However, I think we can always do more to further an understanding of our product. Whether it is knowledge seminars, consumer events or webinars, you can never have enough knowledge about a product. I have seen a big shift in the last few years as the expedition cruise industry matures, so it is important to keep up with the changes as well.


Is adventure travel growing in general?
 

Adventure travel, especially to the Arctic, is growing in both overall awareness and in numbers. Travellers want to get off the beaten path and are looking for authentic experiences in remote destinations. A lot of people have our destinations on their bucket lists’ after a lifetime of travel. Our clients want that special experience they can’t find elsewhere, and we’re there to provide that.


What specific niches seem to be on the rise?

Small group travel seems to be very popular and we are seeing more and more small groups joining our expeditions. We are catering to people who want to do unique things, like snorkelling in the Arctic, or mountain biking in some of our destinations. Photography and birding are both important niches for us too.


Is there a current flavour of the month?

Iceland is very popular. Greenland seems to be gaining popularity and I completely understand why – it is stunning, and probably not as well-known as it could be. Coastal Labrador is Canada’s best-kept secret! We have seen a lot of interest in Canada’s Arctic, especially since the discovery of Sir John Franklin’s ships in Nunavut. There’s such a great combination of history, culture and ecology there that people can access on an Arctic expedition.


What is the biggest misconception about adventure travel?

I think a lot of people believe adventure travel is going to be difficult and challenging. In fact, travelling on the Ocean Endeavour is really comfortable – excellent food, wonderful accommodation, spacious facilities. There’s a library, spa, pool, sauna and hot tub. And we have so much excellent programming available to educate and engage people as we travel. Yes, it’s always exciting to get into a Zodiac and get out on the water, and we do like to expand the comfort zone. But it’s really an accessible, achievable form of travel that we offer.


Who is the ideal Adventure Canada client?

Our clients are people who want a genuine experience; who want to be immersed in their destination and to learn as much as possible while travelling in comfort. They love the outdoors, they are reasonably fit, they are lifelong learners and they appreciate art, culture and conversation.


In your opinion, what is the ultimate Adventure Canada bucket list item?

The Northwest Passage expedition – 17 days of experiences in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, travelling above the Arctic Circle for almost the entire duration – that’s the ultimate!


Do you have a favourite destination/experience that you’ve done with Adventure Canada?

Watching over a hundred beluga whales circle around our Zodiacs off the south coast of Beechey Island, where Franklin’s expedition overwintered in 1845-46. Listening to them chirp and chatter as they swam around windswept icebergs while they were feeding. It doesn’t get better than that!



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WHY DID ADVENTURE CANADA DECIDE TO PROFILE MARTIN?

Martin first came to Adventure Canada as a passenger on his honeymoon! Right from the start, he impressed us with his enthusiasm, people skills, attention to detail, and obvious intelligence. In his first year with Adventure Canada, Martin drew on his background as a health and wellness professional while running a wellness program aboard the Ocean Endeavour. He went on to join our business development team, quickly making himself an indispensable member of our office staff as a result of his hardwork, his intimate knowledge of the Adventure Canada programming, his firm belief in our company ethos, and his genuine ability to build strong, supportive relationships with our industry partners.

– Adventure Canada


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