While Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic made headway in its quest to be the first to offer space travel to consumers — when its SpaceShipTwo hit an altitude of 295,007 feet – earlier this year, Kensington Tours is heading in a somewhat different direction.
The company is offering its customers the chance to be among the first to explore the extreme depths of the Indian Ocean on its submarine, yacht and land tour, Mysteries of the Deep.
And those in the travel industry are certainly aware that there’s a segment in their market that wants to be the first to experience something new and they are willing to pay the price.
For example, a flight on Virgin Galactic has been listed at US$250,000, while the Kensington Tours Mysteries of the Deep is priced at approximately US$350,000 for eight travellers.
As Jeff Willner, founder of Kensington Tours and member of the Explorers Club, explains it: “The deep ocean is the last great unexplored frontier and scientists estimate there are over a million species still to discover. Almost every time we go below 30 metres, we are the first human eyes to witness that terrain. What a rare opportunity to go where no person has gone before.”
As for what drives someone to want to be the first to experience something? Well, while it’s not often cited as a one of the top reasons to travel – those usually range from relaxing to exploring to escaping – perhaps the motivation can be found by looking at a classic innovation theory.
Back in 1962, American communication theorist and sociologist, Everett M. Rogers published Diffusion of Innovations, which proposed that people adopt new ideas in the following categories:
Based on this model, the 2.5% of innovators would be those most likely to be the first to travel to space, dive to the ocean depths or want another novel travel experience.
According to Diffusion of Innovations, innovators have a willingness to take on risk, have a high social status, the financial means to take on the risk and have contact with other innovators.
While Rogers died in 2004, Diffusion of Innovators continues to have an impact across many industries, including travel.
According to reports, over 600 people from 58 countries have already put down deposits to fly on Virgin Galactic – including Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio.
As for Kensington Tours, it will soon be offering more new tours to explore the ocean depths with submersibles capable of diving 1,000 feet (305 metres), allowing travellers to be among the first to explore depths never seen before.
Kensington also has the Explorer’s Club Collection, which has been curated by members of the Explorers Club: “Through their expeditions, the Club’s members have pushed the boundaries of human discovery to the world’s tallest peaks, its deepest depths, its farthest reaches, and to the stars themselves. As long as there are new places to go, new things to learn, and new trails to blaze — as long as there are explorers — there will be an Explorers Club.”