A sustained interest in the great outdoors is driving investment and brand attention to elevating outdoor experiences.
Travelers are flocking to the great outdoors. Flight data shows that destinations known for outdoor activities—like Anchorage, Alaska and Jackson Hole, Wyoming—are among the most popular for summer 2021. Anchorage is the 10th most booked destination on Priceline this summer, while Jackson Hole is the 12th most-booked destination on Orbitz for July 2021.
National Park tickets are in high demand. Reservations for Glacier National Park in Montana sold out for the month of June within minutes. Officials said that at one point, over 10,000 people were on the park’s online portal—more than three times the number of available tickets.
The push towards outdoor is driving new brand partnerships and garnering hefty investments from the government and brands—and pointing to a new vertical for outdoor luxury.
As part of the Great American Outdoors Act, the US government is devoting more funding to improve Americans’ outdoor recreation. In June 2021, the US Departments of Agriculture and the Interior announced plans to allocate $2.8 billion to support outdoor recreation and access to public lands in 2022.
REI and West Elm are joining forces to elevate outdoor essentials. The retailers partnered on a new collection of adventure gear in June 2021 “to bring the comforts of home to the great outdoors,” said Jeffrey Hannoosh, senior vice president of design at West Elm.
Black Tomato and Auberge Resorts Collection are also making outdoor travel more comfortable. In May 2021, the high-end travel operators teamed up on new luxury road trip itineraries. The programs, which range from hiking and sailing on the east coast to an exploration of art in the deserts of the southwest, are updating the adventure travel format for luxury travelers, providing a Mercedes-Benz to get around in and high-end accommodations.
Outdoorsy, which calls itself the Airbnb of outdoor travel, raised $120 million at the end of June 2021 to help the company scale its operations. Earlier in the month, the RV rental and outdoor travel marketplace announced a new partnership with outdoor luxury accommodations operator Collective Retreats—which closed its own round of funding in June, raising $23 million. The partnership will give Outdoorsy RV trippers access to Collective Retreats’ luxury amenities, catering to the rapidly growing outdoor hospitality market and offering “a new type of luxury vacation.”
Increased desire for spending time outdoors is funneling funds and new brand ventures, upleveling outdoor travel from simple to sumptuous. “People are clamoring for a new type of luxury travel,” Collective Retreats CEO and founder Peter Mack shared in a statement, “where traditional hotel rooms and lobbies are swapped for fresh air, trees, and clear blue skies.”
Main image courtesy of West Elm x REI