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Adventure Travel Packages’ (ATPs) Share in 5 Main Categories
The EODs category accounts for the highest share (101 ATPs or 45.70%) of all ATPs (221), followed by EBCTs (64 ATPs or 28.96%), EBC + ODs (34 ATPs or 15.38%), ECEs (15 ATPs or 6.79%) and OETs (7 ATPs or 3.17%) (Figure: 4).
ATCs’ Share in Total Sample ATPs
Forty-five (45) ATCs offer more than two hundred Everest named ATPs (221). However, data about total packages per company is highly skewed. The median of ATPs offered by selected ATCs was just four (4). Geckos Adventures, Green Lotus Trekking, Mountain Madness, Mountain Travel Sobek and The Adventure Company sell four ATPs each.
Majority of ATCs (27 or 60%) sell 1 to 5 ATPs each. About 31.11% ATCs (14) offer 6 to 10 ATPs each and the product portfolio of only 8.89% ATCs (4) comprises more than ten ATPs. iExplore and Mountain Kingdoms offer ten ATPs each. KE Adventures offers the highest number of ATPs (15), followed by Himalayan Glacier Trekking (14), World Expeditions (12) and International Mountain Guides (11). Forty-one ATCs offer up to ten (10) ATPs each (Figure: 5).
About 62.22% ATCs offer 45.70% of total ATPs in the EODs category, whereas approximately 86.67% ATCs sell just 28.96% of total ATPs in the EBCTs category. About 44.44% ATCs sell just 15.38% of total ATPs in the EBC + ODs category, while 17.78% ATCs offer 6.79% of total ATPs in the ECEs category. The 15.56% ATCs account mere 3.17% of the total ATPs in the OETs category (Figure: 6).
ATP Duration Analysis
All ATPs except two for which data is unavailable have been grouped under the following seven (7) duration categories:
- <=10 days
- 11-20 days
- 21-30 days
- 31-40 days
- 41-50 days
- 51-60 days
- >60 days
61.64% ATPs’ are 11 to 20 days long. The share of this duration category in all five main categories barring ECEs is more than 50%. Of 219 ATPs, the EODs category’s 11 to 20 days long ATPs account for the lion’s share (27.40%), followed by EBCTs (24.20%), EBC + ODs (8.22%) and OETs (1.83%) (Figure: 7).
Slightly more than one-fourth ATPs require 21 to 30 days to complete the trip. ATPs of <=10 days contribute just 4.57% to the total number of ATPs. The >60 days and 51-60 days ATPs account for 3.65% and 2.74% respectively. The 31-40 days and 41-50 days ATPs’ share is less than one percent each. Only ECEs category offers ATPs ranging from 41 days to > 60 days. More than half of ECEs are > 60 days long. EODs is the only category selling 31-40 days ATPs (Figure: 8).
The 5-day “Everest in Full Picture”, a EODs ATP, is the shortest package, whereas 72-day “Everest South Col (Climbing)”, a ECEs ATP, is the longest package (Figure: 9). Average ATP duration is 20.92 days.
ATCs’ Share in 5 Main Categories
Seventeen (17 or 37.78%) ATCs offer ATPs belonging to two main categories. Another fourteen (14) companies (31.11%) sell ATPs from the three main categories. Ten companies (22.22%) offer ATPs from just one category, lacking variety in adventure product mix. Expansion of Everest adventure product portfolios will thus enable these ATCs to compete better. Only four companies (8.89%) sell ATPs representing four categories (Figure: 10). These companies are Explore (UK), Grand Asian Journeys (Nepal), Himalayan Glacier Trekking (Nepal) and Jagged Globe (UK). Since not even one ATC represents all five main categories, there is a scope for product mix revision and expansion.
Number of ATPs by ATCs in 5 Main Categories
Thirty-nine (39) ATCs offer sixty-four (64) EBCTs, twenty-eight (28) companies sell 101 EODs packages, twenty (20) ATCs offer 34 EBC + ODs packages and eight (8) companies market fifteen (15) ECEs.
Although KE Adventures sells the highest number of ATPs (15), the company represents only three main categories: EBCTs (4), EODs (10) and OETs (1). Himalayan Glacier Trekking with the second highest number of ATPs (14), representing four main categories (except OETs), offers more variety. The Himalayan Glacier Trekking product portfolio features three (3) EBCTs, ECEs and EODs packages each and five (5) EBC + ODs packages. World Expeditions sells 12 ATPs from two main categories only. (Figure: 11)
Countries’ Share in 5 Main Categories
All forty-five ATCs are based in just eight (8) countries: Australia, Canada, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (Figure: 12). However, ATCs located in all these countries do not represent each of the five main categories. For instance, the Australian and Canadian companies offer ATPs in three main categories only: EBCTs, EBC + ODs and EODs. The New Zealand-based suppliers sell EBCTs and ECEs only. The Dutch and Irish ATCs sell one EBCT each.
Nepal-, UK- and US-based companies offer ATPs covering all the five main categories. Nepal-based companies account for the highest share of EBCTs (34.38%), followed by the US-based suppliers (31.25%) and the UK-based ATCs (25%). The share of all other country-based companies in EBCTs is less than 10%.
Nepal-based companies also contribute the highest percentage of EBC + ODs (35.14%), followed by the US (27.03%), Australian (21.62%), UK (13.51%) and Canadian ATCs (2.70%).
In ECEs, the US-based ATCs account for more than half of the ATPs (53.33%, 8), followed by Nepal-based (26.67%, 4), the UK (13.33%, 2) and New Zealand-based companies (6.67%, 1). ATCs located in other countries do not represent this category at all.
The share of the UK-based companies in the EODs’ ATPs is the maximum (29.59%), followed by Nepal-based companies (26.53%), the US suppliers (23.47%) and Australian companies (19.39%). The share of the Canadian companies is mere 1.02%. The ATCs from three other countries do not sell EODs’ ATPs. Although Everest is located in Nepal, the UK companies offer more EODs’ ATPs than Nepal. KE Adventures and World Expeditions offer ten (10) EODs’ ATPs each. The iExplore product portfolio features eight (8) EODs packages.
The UK- (42.86%), Nepal- (28.57%) and the US-based (28.57%) ATCs offer OETs, but the suppliers from other countries do not.
Nepal-based companies account for the highest share of ATPs (30.32%), followed by the US (28.51%), UK (24.89%), Australian (13.12%) and Canadian companies (1.36%). The share of the ATCs based in New Zealand (0.90%), Northern -Ireland (0.45%) and The Netherlands (0.45%) is negligible. (Figure: 13)
Although Nepali ATCs’ share is the highest in total Everest named ATPs, ATCs from three faraway countries control more than two third of the supply. This glaring imbalance, despite having the main attraction (Everest) within its sovereign boundary and a cost advantage, needs immediate attention. Liking for ATCs based in countries other than Nepal could mean that a large number of adventure travelers are from these countries. Thus, Nepali ATCs need to find out real reasons attributed to the trend before redesigning the ATPs and marketing strategy.
Grading Analysis of 5 Main Categories
The ATP grade nomenclature varies from ATC to ATC. Some of the ATCs use numbers (1, 2 …), whereas others use common adjectives, such as challenging, difficult, easy, hard, moderate and so forth, to define the grade scale. Some ATCs use more than one scale to grade ATPs. For example, iExplore rates its ATPs on three 5-level scales: Difficulty Level, Comfort Level and Exclusivity scales.
In fact, there is no uniformity in grading system used for even similar ATPs offered by different ATCs. For instance, ninety-seven (97) EODs ATPs are graded on different scales at more than thirty (30) different levels and grade information is unavailable for the remaining four packages. Sixteen (16) ATPs are rated as “Moderate”, whereas thirteen (13) ATPs are graded as “5”. These two grade categories account for about 28.71% of EODs ATPs. 12.87% ATPs are rated as “Strenuous.”
All six “Everest Luxury Style” ATPs are graded at least moderate or one level higher. Out of all Everest + OD within Tibet, only two ATPs are rated as “2” and “Easy”, one ATP as “Moderate” and other ATPs as “Demanding”, “Difficult”, “Hard”, “Strenuous”, “Tough” or “Vigorous.”
REI rates its “Journey from Lhasa to Everest” as “2 (Easy Active)” on 1-5 Activity Level scale. An “Easy Active” ATP implies flat, rolling terrain with some steep sections, altitude less than 2,000 meters and climbing and trekking duration varying from 2 to 5 hours per day.
Grading information for ECEs offered by the US Alpine Ascents International and International Mountain Guides is not mentioned on their websites. Other six ATCs use different terminology to grade their ECEs. For example, “Mount Everest Expedition” by Adventure Consultants (New Zealand) is rated as “3” on a scale of 1-5, whereas “Everest Expedition” by Mountain Monarch (Nepal) is graded as “Strenuous” on a 5-level scale with strenuous at 4th level. However, Himalayan Glacier Trekking (Nepal) and Jagged Globe (United Kingdom) rate their ECEs as “4E” on two 5-level scales. The “4” represents 4th level on the Technical Difficulty scale, whereas “E” is the 5th level on the Fitness Scale. Mountain Gurus (U.S.A.) rate all ECEs as “Advanced”. Mountain Madness grades its ECE as “5”. (Part II of the report will focus on grading of ATPs in detail.)
ATP grading is important for two simple reasons: one, to allow travelers to choose an ATP matching their mental, physical fitness and skill level, as also budget, and two, to enable industry experts to evaluate the market and define safety guidelines. There is obvious need for grade standardization to achieve the above said goals.
Popularity of ATPs
On the basis of ATP duration, 11-20 days ATPs are the most popular as more than 61% (135) ATPs are of this length.
Since the EODs’ ATPs and the EBCTs account for the highest number of ATPs, adventure seekers like both multi-destination and single-destination ATPs. (Figure: 14)
It can be concluded that EBCT is one of the most popular ATPs, since 39 (86.67%) companies surveyed offer at least one EBCT.
Cheapest Vs. Costliest ATPs
The cheapest and costliest ATPs are identified solely based on average price per day, per person (pdpp). The pdpp price is arrived at by dividing total minimum per person price of an ATP by its duration. However, the services offered may not be comparable. Price of fifteen (15) ATPs is unavailable on the ATCs’ websites. The price of 190 ATPs (92.23%) is less than USD 300.00 pdpp. The price of 48.54% ATPs ranges from USD 101-200 and that of 28.16% ATPs is less than or equal to USD 100.00. (Figure: 15)
“Everest High Pass Circuit Trek” (EOD ATP) by Green Lotus Trekking (Nepal) is the cheapest at USD 47.57 pdpp. “Classic Everest Climb with Western Guide” (ECE) by International Mountain Guides (USA) is the costliest at USD 1,754.39 pdpp. Top five costliest ATPs represent ECEs. The costliest ATP, excluding ECEs, is “Everest Region” (iExplore) priced at USD 379.80 pdpp. (Figure: 16 & Figure: 17)
Five cheapest ATPs
- “Everest High Pass Circuit Trek” (EODs) priced at USD 47.57 pdpp by Green Lotus Trekking (Nepal)
- “EBC Trek” (EBCTs) priced at USD 49.93 pdpp by Global Crossroads (USA)
- “Trekking to Everest” (EODs) priced at USD 33 pdpp by Green Lotus Trekking (Nepal)
- “EBC Trek” (EBCTs) priced at USD 55.33 pdpp by Green Lotus Trekking (Nepal)
- “Classic Everest Trek” (EODs) priced at USD 58.93 pdpp by Nepal Trailblazer (Nepal)
The cheapest ATPs represent two main categories: EBCTs and EODs. Nepal-based ATCs offer four of the 5 cheapest ATPs. Green Lotus Trekking (Nepal) sells three (60%) of the five ATPs. (Figure: 18)
All the five ATPs start and end in Kathmandu and are available in October. The price of these ATPs includes admission fee to the Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park, transfers and services of local tour guides. Accommodation is offered on twin sharing basis. Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu airfare, services of porters and TIMS card fee are covered in the price of all five ATPs except that of “EBC Trek” (Global Crossroads). Some companies even specify porter-traveler ratio. For instance, Nepal Trailblazer provides one porter for two travelers during “Classic Everest Trek”. However, none of the ATP price includes international airfare, travel insurance and visa fee.
ATP duration varies from two weeks to four weeks. The ATPs are graded as “Moderate” or “Strenuous”. The price of “EBC Trek” (Global Crossroads) is exclusively for volunteers of the company. Minimum group size of Green Lotus Trekking ATPs is two (2) people.
The price of three Green Lotus Trekking ATPs consists of a 2-night stay in 3-star hotel. However, the price of “EBC Trek” (Global Crossroads) includes 13-night accommodation in guesthouses / teahouses. The price of “Classic Everest Trek” (Nepal Trailblazer) includes 4-night stay in a top-end hotel (3-4 star hotel) and 23-night stay in guesthouses.
The price of three ATPs offered by Green Lotus Trekking covers breakfast only. The price of its “Everest High Pass Circuit Trek”, “EBC Trek” and “Trekking to Everest” includes four (4), two (2) and two (2) breakfasts respectively. The price of “EBC Trek” (Global Crossroads) does not include meals. Nepal Trailblazer’s “Classic Everest Trek” price covers twenty-seven (27) breakfasts, twenty-four (24) lunches and twenty-four (24) dinners.
Government taxes and service charges, and the first aid medical kit are also included in the price of “Classic Everest Trek”. Green Lotus Trekking also provides a trek pack consisting of a sleeping bag, kit bag and down jacket.
Five costliest ATPs
- “Classic Everest Climb with Western Guide” priced at USD 1,754.39 pdpp by International Mountain Guides (USA)
- “Mount Everest Expedition” priced at USD 1,031.75 pdpp by Adventure Consultants (New Zealand)
- “Mount Everest Expedition” priced at USD 970.15 pdpp by Alpine Ascents International (USA)
- “Hybrid Everest Climb” priced at USD 964.91 pdpp by International Mountain Guides (USA)
- “Mount Everest Expedition” priced at USD 913.04 pdpp by Mountain Madness (USA)
All five costliest ATPs belong to the ECE category. The price of these ATPs ranges from USD 910-1,760 pdpp. Three US ATCs offer four (80%) costliest ATPs. Surprisingly, there are no ATPs from the Nepal-based companies in the top five. Except “Mountain Everest Expedition” (Alpine Ascents International), all five ATPs start and end in Kathmandu. (Figure: 19)
There is no direct relationship between price and duration of ATPs. For instance, price of 57-day “Hybrid Everest Climb” ATP of International Mountain Guides amounts to USD 964.91 pdpp, whereas its 57-day “Classic Everest Climb with Western Guide” ATP is priced at USD 1,754.39 pdpp. Both the ATPs offer single tents at EBC for USD 400.00. The price of both ATPs include
- hyperbaric bag,
- pulse oximeter,
- climbing permit,
- emergency medical O2,
- 54-night stay at camps,
- consultations with leaders,
- entry fee to the Mount Everest National Park,
- Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu airfare,
- group and high altitude camp equipment,
- services of camp staff, liaison officer, porters and yaks,
- all meals while trekking and climbing (fifty-five (55) Breakfasts, fifty-four (54) Lunches, fifty-five (55) Dinners),
- 2-night hotel stay, but type of hotel is not mentioned on the website, and
- facilities at EBC, such as foam trekking mattresses, power supply, satellite telephone and internet.
However, neither of the two includes airport taxes, cost of personal items, insurance, international airfare, optional tipping / gratuities and visa fee. The western guide (WG) to traveler (T) ratio varies from 1:1 for “Classic Everest Climb with Western Guide” to 1:4 for “Hybrid Everest Climb”. The Sherpa to traveler ratio for the Hybrid ATP is 1:1. Thus, hiring western guides almost doubles the pdpp price.
The 63-day “Mount Everest Expedition” of Adventure Consultant is priced at USD 1,031.75 pdpp, whereas 67-day “Mount Everest Expedition” of Alpine Ascents International costs USD 970.15 pdpp. The price of Alpine Ascents’ ATP includes 3-night stay at hotel, but type of the hotel is not mentioned on the website. The Alpine Ascents’ ATP price also covers 56-night stay in camps, whereas the Adventure Consultant ATP price includes 60-day night stay at camps or lodges when away from Kathmandu. The Alpine ATP price consists of fifty-six (56) breakfasts, fifty-six (56) lunches and fifty-six (56) dinners, while the Adventure Consultant ATP price includes four more breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Both ATPs, include Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu airfare, services of camp staff, climbing permit fee and group equipment. However, personal items and international airfare are excluded. The western guide to traveler ratio is 1:4 and Sherpa to climber ratio is 1:1 in case of Adventure Consultant ATP. Although Alpine provides services of Sherpa, but Sherpa-traveler ratio is not specified. The price of Adventure Consultant ATP also covers services of a doctor at the EBC, oxygen and all necessary supplies.
The 69-day “Mount Everest Expedition” of Mountain Madness is priced at USD 913.04 pdpp. The price includes transfers, bottled oxygen, group equipment, pack animals, climbing permit fee, four-night stay in top-end hotel, Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu airfare, all meals during climbing period, entry fee to the Mount Everest National Park and services of porters and high altitude Sherpa climbing guides. However, meals while trekking are not covered in the price. The tour guide [TG] to climber [C] ratio is 1:4. The guide may not be a westerner, as the company’s website is silent on this.
This price analysis has revealed a few interesting facts about Everest named ATPs. Services of Sherpa are more economical than that of a WG. This cost advantage can be leveraged to increase Nepali share in supply of the ATPs, thereby, creating more employment for skilled locals who naturally have an advantage over foreigners in terms of adaptation to high altitude and fitness required for Everest adventures.
Trekking within the Everest region is more affordable provided services of local ATCs are utilized.
Local ATCs focus on relatively easy Everest adventures than on more risky high altitude climbing holidays. So, there is scope to expand in the latter category.
ATCs either deliberately do not disclose all price components of an ATP on the website or are unaware of importance of price details in today’s highly competitive travel market driven by information technology (IT). All price components should be detailed on the website, facilitating easy and quick comparison because modern travelers love to dig Internet to find the cheapest deals.
Nepal-side vs. Tibet-side Everest ATPs
The number of Nepal-side Everest ATPs aggregates 194, more than 87% of the total ATPs. The remaining twenty-seven (27) ATPs approach the Everest region from Tibet. Thus, travelers prefer Nepal-side Everest ATPs. (Figure: 20)