Contiki is seeing more seasoned travelers shifting their focus from Europe to far-flung African adventures as the company digs into the immersive choice the post-pandemic traveler is hungry for.
Young travelers are hungry for adventure, and it’s taking them to Africa.
Contiki, the social travel company for 18-35-year-olds, recently relaunched its tours to Africa and has seen a 57% increase in bookings compared to 2019. The New Zealand-based company, part of The Travel Corporation, has a range of 350 different tours in over 75 countries.
Contiki launched into Southern Africa in 2018 with its first trip with 600 passengers through South Africa.
“It inspired us to grow a footprint in the region. We then grew the length and breadth of itineraries up into Botswana and Namibia and launched these just as the pandemic hit,” said Natasha Lawrence, commercial and product director at Contiki.
The company began operating tours to Africa again in May of this year.
“We started in North Africa in Egypt and Morocco and then got Southern Africa running in June, with the market roughly equating to the same size of our operations in Spain or Canada,” said Lawrence. “Africa is still our newest and therefore our smallest operating region but one that we are forecasting significant growth over the next three years.”
Itineraries Designed for Adventure
Contiki’s itinerary design has significantly contributed to growth, according to Kyle Junkuhn, Contiki’s Operations Lead for Africa.
“In Africa, we add more adventurous activities for the youth market. For example, at Boulders Beach in Cape Town, most operators will have guests walk down to see the penguins, whereas, with Contiki, guests will kayak to get a closer look at the African penguins. For Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, travelers can also bungee jump, gorge slide, and zip wire,” said Junkuhn.
Lawrence said the company’s Africa program is driven by an equal mix of Americans, British, and Australians, with the average age and average cost per trip for the destination noticeably higher than other markets.
“Across the world, the average Contiki traveler is 25. In Africa, the average age is 30. We often have young couples on honeymoon as part of the trip, and the average price is higher than the average Contiki trip at around $3,000.”
Young, yet seasoned travelers who want more adventure are shaping itinerary design for youth travel brand Contiki. Source: Contiki
A Focus on Experiences to Make Travel Matter
Sea, Safari, South Africa, the latest Africa tour, encompasses nine safari parks, plus travelers will also experience local city life in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, for under $200/per day. The 2-week trip combines the diverse Garden Route with popular wildlife viewing spots Isimangaliso, Hluhluwe, and Kruger National Park.
“The trip gives travelers everything they could want from South Africa at an amazing price. There are plenty of land and sea-based wildlife experiences, plus three very different cultural tours,” said Junkuhn.
“We wanted to show them Garden Route, typically known for an older demo, through a youth lens, with experiences like Surfing in Jeffreys Bay and kayaking on the Storms River.”
Favorites, according to Junkuhn, include glamping in the Kruger National Park to see the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and African buffalo), the chance to learn and visit with the SANCCOB Penguin Rehabilitation Centre, which works to rescue injured seabirds and help them reenter the wild, and a visit to the coastal town of Hermanus, considered the best land-based whale-watching spot in the world, and a shark conservancy visit.
Age-restrictions and Upgrades
While Contiki has noted that travelers to Africa are, on average, five years older than regular guests, Melissa DaSilva, President of Contiki, North America, said the African itineraries attracted older, seasoned travelers and young professionals due to their higher price point and extended trip durations compared to their Europe city-focused tours.
“For many of our younger guests, traveling with Contiki may be the first time they travel out of the United States. And when many Americans leave the country for the first time, they tend to first visit countries closer and most similar to their own, such as Canada or Europe,” said DaSilva.
Today’s traveler wants more choice, with special Pride trips in the pipeline. Source: Contiki
That being said, Contiki is introducing age-specific journeys with its 2024 itineraries to Europe. Reunion trips, made exclusively for past Contiki travelers and friends aged between 35 and 45, will run across Morocco, Italy, and Spain.
Popular European trips, including Croatia Island Sail and Greek Island Hopping, will run variations exclusive to both 18-22s and 27-35s.
The LGBTQIA+ community can also anticipate special Contiki Pride trips, as the brand emphasizes travelers’ ability to choose adventures with like-minded peers.
Additionally, those seeking upgraded accommodations can explore the ‘Plus’ range. For example, its new selection of trips includes the Thai Island Hopper West Plus – an upgraded version of one of Contiki’s most popular Asian products.
The ‘Plus’ variation includes upgraded accommodation (twin share, centrally located with a sea view) and additional Experiences, such as a half-day Phuket sightseeing tour and a visit to a well-known rum distillery.
“Every traveler is different, and this latest product launch is all about recognizing that. We want choice to be at the heart of everything we do,” said Lawrence.