Adventure Excursions Unlimited (AEU) offers high-end adventure sport/travel packages. Our hard-adventure activities include helicopter-skiing, kayaking, white-water rafting, and mountain biking. AEU was founded by Jordan Stephan (MBA/JD), Jillyn Certo (MBA), and Loren Harlo (MBA), all passionate about the activities we offer.

There are two reasons why AEU has an opportunity in the market:

1. The tourism industry is growing at a rate of 4% annually, with adventure travel growing at 10%.

2. There are limited providers offering hard-adventure travel for upscale clients.

Most companies that offer hard-adventure activities target lower-income clients. Wealthier clients typically opt for soft adventure packages, which involve less physical exertion and risk. AEU’s target customers are high-income, health-conscious individuals interested in popular hard-adventure sports, such as lawyers, bankers, executives, and doctors. The majority of our customers reside in urban areas within major US cities, and our customer base is evenly split between men and women.

While competition with established providers may be challenging, AEU’s target market is a distinct niche with unique offerings. Our target market shares similar interests and has higher disposable income and lower price sensitivity. We position our services at the top of the market, offering a luxury experience that sets us apart. Our prices reflect the value and prestige associated with our service, making them out of reach for most adventure travelers. However, we remain competitively priced within the luxury market. Although volume may be limited, we can achieve higher gross profit margins.

By targeting affluent clientele and offering differentiated luxury services, AEU has a promising future in the adventure travel industry.

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1.1 Objectives

Adventure Excursions Unlimited aims to:

  • Exceed customers’ expectations.
  • Capture 25% market share of high-end hard-adventure travel.
  • Create a sustainable, profitable business.
  • Achieve a 35% return rate of customers within the first three years.

1.2 Mission

Adventure Excursions Unlimited exists to provide customers with the highest quality outdoor adventure. By adhering to this mission, everything else will fall into place.

Company Summary

Adventure Excursions Unlimited, located in Eugene, OR, offers hard-adventure trips to the upper end of the travel market. The company focuses on mountain biking, heli-skiing, and white-water adventures to provide year-round trips. While based in Eugene, AEU leads trips throughout the United States and the world.

The first months will be devoted to planning trips and training leaders. By the end of year one, AEU expects to have a solid customer base.

2.1 Company Ownership

Adventure Excursions Unlimited is a privately held Oregon Corporation. Jordan Stephan, Jillyn Certo, and Loren Harlo are equal shareholders of AEU stock.

2.2 Start-up Summary

Adventure Excursions Unlimited’s start-up costs include office equipment, equipment for mountain bike trips and white-water adventures, marketing fees, website development, insurance, and office lease deposit.

The office equipment includes four computer systems, DSL router, printer, CD-RW, internal server CPU, phones, copier, fax machine, DSL installation, and two phone lines.

The mountain bike trip equipment consists of 15 bicycles, a self-contained kitchen, shower and toilet system, and bicycle tools.

The white-water adventure equipment includes inflatable rafts, a self-contained kitchen setup, portable shower and toilet facilities, and dry bags.

The marketing costs cover brochures and advertisements, and there will be expenses for website development and insurance.

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Start-up Funding

Start-up Expenses to Fund: $2,400

Start-up Assets to Fund: $57,600

Total Funding Required: $60,000


Non-cash Assets from Start-up: $13,000

Cash Requirements from Start-up: $44,600

Additional Cash Raised: $0

Cash Balance on Starting Date: $44,600

Total Assets: $57,600

Liabilities and Capital


Current Borrowing: $0

Long-term Liabilities: $0

Accounts Payable (Outstanding Bills): $0

Other Current Liabilities (interest-free): $0

Total Liabilities: $0


Planned Investment

Jordan Stephan: $20,000

Jillyn Certo: $20,000

Loren Harlo: $20,000

Additional Investment Requirement: $0

Total Planned Investment: $60,000

Loss at Start-up (Start-up Expenses): ($2,400)

Total Capital: $57,600

Total Capital and Liabilities: $57,600

Total Funding: $60,000


AEU will position itself as a niche service provider within the hard-adventure market. It will offer high-quality travel packages for extreme sporting trips. To begin, AEU will offer six trips: helicopter-skiing trips to Canada, India, and New Zealand, white-water rafting trips to New Zealand and Costa Rica, and a mountain biking trip along the Great Divide from Montana to New Mexico.

The target market will be young professionals who work and play hard. These people can afford to play expensively and are willing to buy time in the form of our services. AEU will serve the hard-adventure niche market as a top-quality, full-service provider. AEU defines quality by the unique aspects of the services offered, including booking group or custom trips, assisting with passports, providing top-of-the-line equipment and supplies, and offering a superior service with access to better terrain, luxury accommodations, entertainment, celebrity exposure, and gourmet food.

The tours to be offered are:

– Mountain Biking: This event will take place on the Great Divide trail from Montana to New Mexico and is designed for the serious biker that appreciates a few of life’s comforts along the trail. Showers and gourmet meals will be provided, along with entertainment. All excursions will maintain a staff to client ratio of 1:2.

A comprehensive map system has been created by Adventure Cycling and is available for purchase. The map clearly indicates the route, places to camp, stores for food and laundromats. Leadership training for the guides will be developed in-house using some outside material. There are many similar organizations that will be good sources of information. The products needed for this trip are mostly already manufactured. One item that needs to be designed and built is a privacy compartment for the solar shower. This will be designed by Jordan and manufactured in-house. A cookbook collection of simple recipes, including some personal favorites, will also be assembled. Professional cooks will be provided, and flown in if necessary.

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– Heli-skiing: Helicopter skiing has become a popular alternative to resort skiing. It offers uncrowded access to the best terrain. AEU has planned annual and custom trips to three destinations. Everything will be taken care of for the customer. Transportation, lodging, transfers, and skiing are included in the package. Although our trips are planned at peak ski seasons, mother nature cannot be predicted. In the event that the weather is too treacherous to ski, the trip will be postponed. An in-house travel consultant will accompany each group and take care of all check-in and transfer issues.

AEU will not send clients to places we ourselves would not go. All service providers will be top-notch professionals with accomplished backgrounds. They will be medically trained and evaluated for knowledge and ability to ensure safety and high-quality service. If they fail to meet our rigid standards of quality, they will not be used. If quality falls, another provider will replace them. These activities take place outside of the United States, so we will hire local guides to accompany our professional guides and service providers.

– White-water Sports: New Zealand and Costa Rica were chosen for these ten-day long hard-adventure excursions. There can be a maximum of ten people per group. Annual trips will be planned to each location, but for large enough private groups, custom trips can be planned. As with the heli-skiing trips, local guides will be used in addition to our own. The abroad trips will be a cooperative effort in-house, as well as with local guides in the host countries. The choice to seek outside consulting for the trips abroad is due to each country’s different legal and regulatory climate. The potential subcontractors and guides are individuals currently in the industry in their respective countries.

Market Analysis Summary

The travel industry is an upward growth industry due to several factors. A relative healthy domestic economy and the devaluation of currency in other regions have made travel less expensive for U.S. residents. Pleasure travel has increased by 3.2% in 1999 and is predicted to grow 2.0% in 2000. Business travel has also increased due to the healthy economy, with a 4.8% increase in 1999 and an estimated 3.6% increase in 2000.

Adventure travel is a growing segment of the travel industry. There has been a 66% increase in executive participation between 1996 and 2000, generating $7 billion in 1999 (La Franco, Robert. Forbes, Feb 9, 1998 v161 n3 p168(3)).

Some quick facts:

– More than 50% of the U.S. adult traveling population, or 147 million people, have taken an adventure trip in their lifetime (98 million in the past five years).

– Thirty-one million adults have engaged in hard-adventure activities like white-water rafting, scuba diving, and mountain biking.

– Biking vacations: Twenty-seven million travelers with customers that tend to be young and affluent, ages 18-34, and one-fourth are from households with an annual income of $75,000 or above.

Market Segmentation

AEU’s target customers are high-income (min. $75,000 for a single person), health-conscious individuals interested in popular hard-adventure sports such as skiing, white-water sports, and mountain biking. The major purchasers are located in urban areas within the United States, specifically California, Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

Hard-adventure travelers are more likely to be men. AEU’s primary target market for hard-adventure sports is men between the ages of 18-34, although an increasing number of hard-adventure travelers are women. Men, on average, spend more than women on their adventure travels.

Customers will be reached through traditional marketing communication methods. Many adventure travelers purchase over the Internet or buy through travel agents. Purchase decisions are influenced by disposable income, family issues, and the economy of a given year.

AEU will be targeting two specific groups:

– High-income health-conscious individuals.

– Young, active “trustafarians.”

The common elements between these two groups are money and a love for adventures. Group one has a lot of money from income that they earn. Group two has a lot of disposable income because the money was given to them, typically by members of their family.

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Market Analysis:

Potential Customers Growth Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 CAGR

High-income Health-conscious Individuals 12% 1,300,000 1,456,000 1,630,720 1,826,406 2,045,575 12.00%

Young, Active Trustafarians 5% 500,000 525,000 551,250 578,813 607,754 5.00%

Other 0% 0 0 0 0 0 0.00%

Total 10.19% 1,800,000 1,981,000 2,181,970 2,405,219 2,653,329 10.19%

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy:

AEU will promote itself as a differentiated provider of luxury hard-adventure travel and price accordingly within the chosen service niche.

AEU is targeting this special population for several reasons:

1. This segment has been underserved.

2. This market segment spends a fair amount of money on adventure trips.

3. This target segment seems willing to pay a premium for a top-shelf adventure excursion.

Methods of communication will include direct mail, magazine advertising, personal selling, and a website presence. Continuous magazine advertising will be costly. Initially, direct mail and personal selling will be employed. These methods will be tailored to reach our target segment.

4.3 Service Business Analysis:

As operations progress, AEU will continue to measure our progress relative to competitors and the growth of the markets in which we operate. Though the primary target market has been defined, there may be new possibilities to serve additional segments. As the product and strategy differentiation are defined based on our competitive strengths, AEU will determine if adjustments in positioning are necessary. Access to market and competitor information is available but not free. For this project, we feel it is unnecessary to incur additional expense.

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The marketing strategy will be to develop long-term relationships with customers. We will keep a database from which to obtain important demographic and psychographic information. As the business becomes profitable, plans will be implemented to expand. AEU can provide trips on every continent and in most countries. The goal is to establish AEU as an international provider of top-of-the-line hard-adventure travel.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns:

Strengths and weaknesses of competitors:

Adventure providers who specialize in a single type of hard-adventure activity, such as white-water rafting, serve clients who purchase trips for less than $2,000. Their strength is their expertise in a given sport, but they provide an undifferentiated product in a competitive market. They lack the resources, ability, or desire to target and accommodate customers demanding more luxury/adventure-oriented service.

Companies that offer higher-priced, more luxurious packages generally provide "soft" adventure. They have established reputations, extensive industry knowledge, key personnel, and management. Some have been in operation for more than twenty years and have established strategic relationships with local service providers.

Disadvantages for us:

Competitive pricing when we enter the market will be difficult.

Many of our activities are seasonal, and recurring revenue is dependent on successful trips in various regions of the world. Unforeseen occurrences, such as poor weather conditions, could affect the viability of activities like skiing and white-water sports.

Closely related competitors:

Abercrombie & Kent: A well-established international travel provider focused mainly on "soft" adventure packages such as safaris, river tours, and trekking. They also offer higher-priced packages starting from $4,000-7,000, including white-water activities and hiking.

Competing or substitute products:

There are many activities and types of travel available as substitutes for hard-adventure trips. Theme parks, motorhome trips, and cruises are just a few examples. Some competitors offer exclusive adventure trips such as personal submarine tours or around-the-world trips in a Leer Jet. Many activities that take place outside and involve risk could be seen as hard-adventure competition.

Another alternative is to do nothing and spend the money on something else.

Strategy and Implementation Summary:

Adventure Excursions Unlimited will target the upper end of the hard-adventure market. This market has been underserved, with no providers catering to the high-end spectrum. AEU sees a unique opportunity with the increasing trend in adventure travel.

AEU’s main objective in marketing and sales is to create an impression on prospective customers that AEU offers a higher level of service compared to other providers of hard-adventure tours. This will be communicated through all media used. If AEU can make the impression that our trips are truly different and superior, there will be steady demand.

Once AEU has clients signed up and participating on our trips, we will rely on superior customer attention and service to impress and retain clients. Developing long-term relationships will be the key to steady growth.

5.1 Competitive Edge:

Our services provide access to popular "hard" adventure sports without typical budget constraints. Most providers cater to travelers looking to spend less. Adventure Excursions Unlimited will use the same service providers but provide more exclusive trips. Accommodations will primarily be in small luxury hotels and resorts, with exceptional meals. Adventure activities will be better than average due to our clients’ higher budget and access to the best terrain and sections of rivers. AEU’s target market has no problem spending $4,000 per week on heli-skiing and often make this type of activity an annual event.

5.2 Sales Strategy:

The sales strategy is to create long-term relationships with customers through superior service. Initially, we will target customers who have purchased or are likely to purchase "hard-adventure" vacations for over $2,500.

The trips planned are designed for wealthy adventure travelers. Later marketing efforts may include trips for corporate clients, eco-tourism, or hard-adventure trips for those seeking to spend less. Target customers will be identified through standard research methods, using publications that contain profiles of Adventure travelers.

Methods of contacting customers will depend on results of marketing/sales research. We will likely use trade or special interest magazines, direct mail, the website, and personal selling. Printed materials will be available through travel agencies that cater to the adventure target market. Service will be introduced regionally and possibly nationally before extending sales into the global market.

Our services are seasonal, and recurring revenue will depend on successful trips offered year-round. We aim to promote out-of-season services through frequent customer contact and a publication, most likely a magazine. Retail sales will account for most transactions, with discounts of approximately 15% for sales through travel agencies. Sales will occur as a result of customer contact and personal selling.

5.2.1 Sales Forecast:

The following charts and table show AEU’s expected sales forecast.

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Travel Agency Business Plan Example

Sales Forecast:

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Heli-skiing $360,000 $500,000 $570,000
White-water Rafting $140,000 $260,000 $310,000
Mountain Biking $100,000 $200,000 $240,000
Other $0 $0 $0
Total Sales $600,000 $960,000 $1,120,000
Direct Cost of Sales Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Heli-skiing $0 $0 $0
White-water Rafting $40,000 $70,000 $78,000
Mountain Biking $28,000 $50,000 $64,000
Other $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $68,000 $120,000 $142,000

5.3 Milestones

Adventure Excursions Unlimited will have several milestones early on:

  1. Business plan completion. This will serve as a roadmap for the organization. AEU does not need a business plan to raise capital, but it will be an indispensable tool for the ongoing performance and improvement of the company.
  2. Set up the office in Eugene, OR.
  3. Develop the training program for trip leaders.
  4. Completion of first trip.
  5. Completion of twentieth trip.
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Milestone Start Date End Date Budget Manager Department
Business Plan Completion 1/1/2001 1/21/2001 $0 Jordan Marketing
Office Set-up 1/1/2001 2/1/2001 $0 Jillyn Department
Develop Leadership Training Program 2/1/2001 3/1/2001 $0 Jordan Department
Completion of First Trip 4/1/2001 5/1/2001 $0 Loren Department
Completion of 20th Trip 4/1/2002 5/1/2002 $0 Loren Department
Totals $0

Management Summary

The three founders of AEU are Jordan Stephan, Jillyn Certo, and Loren Harlo. They will occupy management roles within AEU, as well as being specialists in at least one type of hard-adventure activity and being responsible for the management and operation of key functional areas.

Jordan Stephan, VP, Corporate Council, Business Development, and Mountain Biking Activity Supervisor: Jordan received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA. He was president of the Washington and Jefferson Cycling Club and Team for two years. He completed his Master of Business Management/Doctor of Jurisprudence, joint degree program at Willamette University where he has served as the secretary of the Environmental Law Society and chairperson for the Willamette University Public Interest Law Project (WUPILP). Jordan supervised twenty-five staff members and raised $14,000 as chairperson. Jordan has also managed a bicycle shop for two years. Following graduate school, Jordan worked for where he did business development, organizational development, and other management activities. He is responsible for all logistics on the mountain bike trips.

Jordan’s expertise in mountain bike trip logistics comes from years of cycle touring. He has cycled across the country and around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Vermont. Jordan has also done backpacking, backcountry hiking, and snowshoeing. He has served as a consultant on many long-distance bicycle tours in the United States and abroad. In addition to his role as logistical planner, Jordan will be responsible for part-manufacturing for the mountain bike trips as he has manufacturing expertise from several years of design and improvement experience with outdoor gear.

Jordan’s extra-curricular activities are based on his love for the outdoors. He has been a competitive cyclist and runner for the last five years. He competes in cycling road races, endurance mountain bike races, and road/trail running races up to half-marathons. His current favorite activity is the duathlon or run/bike/run events. He would like to combine his experience and education with his love for the outdoors. The AEU business concept reflects this desire.

Jillyn Certo, VP, Human Resource Manager/Corporate Trainer, and Ski-trip Coordinator: Jillyn graduated with two Bachelor of Science Degrees, one in corporate and industrial fitness and the other in occupational safety, from Oregon State University in 1991. Jillyn completed her MBA work at Atkinson Graduate School of Management in 1998. She has six years’ experience in the field of safety. After Atkinson, Jillyn worked at Nike as a human resource specialist. Her interests include scuba diving and downhill skiing. Jillyn has competed in track & field as well as in horse shows and barrel racing. Along with her interest in sports, Jillyn has a variety of experience with business and pleasure travel. Jillyn will supervise the training of our leaders.

Loren Harlo, Marketing Manager, and White-water Adventure Coordinator: Loren is twenty-seven years old. He received his Bachelor degree in psychology from Western College and graduated Magna cum Laude. He will complete his Master of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis in marketing) in 1998. Following graduate school, Loren worked for Burley Cooperative as a marketing manager. Loren has been active in athletics for twenty years. He played football at the grade school, high school, and college level, as well as basketball, track and field, and competition karate. He is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for water sports, skiing, hiking, hunting, and fishing. He has recently taken up kayaking. Loren gained self-employment and management experience as an independent contractor for the Union Pacific Railroad. He has also managed and operated a small restaurant. He has always planned to own his own business and realized, while working independently, that he needed the knowledge of business management that an MBA program could provide.

Though the founding members intend to take an active role in the operation of AEU, additional management will be sought out. AEU is open to assistance from experienced managers associated with venture capital providers.

Personnel Plan:

The following table shows the personnel plan for AEU.

Personnel Plan
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Jordan Stephan $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Jillyn Certo $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Loren Harlo $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Mountain Bike Trip Personnel $70,000 $150,000 $170,000
Heli-skiing Personnel $120,000 $170,000 $200,000
White-water Adventure Personnel $70,000 $125,000 $155,000
Secretary $18,000 $0 $0
Total People 4 19 19
Total Payroll $368,000 $535,000 $615,000

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