The rise of active holidays
by Smithfield Agency

If, like many of us in the office, you’ve been addicted to the BBC show “Race Across the World“, it may not entirely surprise you that there’s been a recent surge in the popularity of activity-based holidays. As the teams navigate challenging terrains and stop off to try a range of jobs or tasks, the smartphone-free travel show seems to have inspired many of us to choose holidays that promise personal growth and physical engagement over traditional relaxation.

The stats speak: A flourishing market

The adventure tourism market, which has seen significant growth in recent years, reached a staggering $1,236.6 billion globally in 2023 and is projected to expand further to $5,263.0 billion by 2032. Europe leads this market, thanks to its diverse landscapes and well-developed infrastructure, making it a prime destination for adventurers seeking everything from alpine skiing to hiking in the Scottish Highlands​.

Who’s travelling?

According to a survey involving 2,000 adults, over four in ten (43%) aged 18-24 and 39% of those aged 25-34 have participated in a hobby or activity-based holiday in the last two years. Moreover, when faced with the choice between a conventional ‘fly and flop’ holiday and an activity-based one this summer, 40% of the 18-24 year-olds expressed a preference for the latter.

Not just for the young

While it might be tempting to assume that such energetic holidays appeal mainly to the younger crowd, recent data suggests a broader appeal. Individuals who are past their early career and family planning stages often find themselves with the time and resources to indulge in adventure travel. This demographic values experiences and personal growth and is driving a significant portion of the market​.

More mature travellers are increasingly interested in trips that offer more than just relaxation. This shift is driven by a growing emphasis on wealth and wellness, with many seeking holidays that combine fitness with leisure, further diversifying the age range of active and adventure tourists​. Indeed, a growing trend is the ‘golden gap year’ which many new retirees are now embarking on.

How are they booking?

The market has seen a shift towards direct bookings, allowing providers to tailor experiences more closely to individual preferences. This trend enhances customer satisfaction and aligns with the increasing demand for the personalised and authentic travel experiences​ that active and adventure holiday firms provide. It also enables companies to cut out the middleman and take control of their performance advertising.

To effectively market tickets and tours on Google search, here are some key strategies to implement:

Audience + Data + Media Placement + Brand Safety + Measurement


  • Segmentation: Identify and segment audiences based on demographic, psychographic, and behavioural data to enhance targeting precision.
  • Personalisation: Utilise AI and machine learning to dynamically personalise ads based on user interaction history and preferences.

Data Strategy

  • Collection: Harness first-party data, supplemented by strategic partnerships for second-party data and vetted third-party sources.
  • Activation: Activate audience data, ensuring real-time optimisation of campaigns.
  • Privacy Compliance: Adhere strictly to Google’s consent mode policies, in line with UKGDPR guidelines and other local data privacy laws, ensuring all data collection and processing is transparent and secure.

Optimise Google Business Profile

  • Claim and verify your Google Business Profile listing to appear in local search results.
  • Add detailed descriptions, photos, operating hours, and other relevant information about your experience.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews, as positive ratings boost local rankings.

List Experiences on Google Things to Do

  • Connect your tours/tickets inventory to Google Things to Do to display them in search results.
  • Work with an approved connectivity partner like a booking system or online travel agency to integrate seamlessly.
  • Optimise listings with compelling descriptions, photos, pricing, and direct booking links.

Run Google Ads Campaigns

  • Use Google Ads to promote specific holidays and reach targeted audiences searching for related keywords.
  • Set up campaigns for local service ads, display ads, video ads etc to increase visibility.
  • Highlight unique selling points, discounts, and direct booking links in the ad copy.

Focus on local SEO

  • Optimise your website for local search by including your business location, city/area keywords etc.
  • Build citations and backlinks from authoritative local directories and sites.
  • Create location-specific content like tour guides, travel blogs etc to improve relevance.

It is important to recognise the shift towards direct bookings and personalised experiences and how it enables providers to better cater to individual preferences and enhance customer satisfaction.

Strategies such as audience segmentation, personalisation, and leveraging Google’s tools for marketing and visibility are becoming essential for businesses in the active and adventure travel sector to thrive. By leveraging Google’s tools like Business Profiles, Things to Do, Ads and local SEO, you can significantly improve visibility for your experiences in relevant search results.

If you’d like to understand more about how Smithfield can help your leisure or travel business, please contact us today.

May 16, 2024

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