Lunch & Learn Recap: Cowboy-Cations

Lunch & Learn Recap: Cowboy-Cations

Written by

Every few weeks, the Family Travel Association is hosting a 30-minute virtual Lunch & Learn with suppliers, industry experts and panel discussions.

Being an FTA member, you can not just attend these webinars, but also access the recordings at any time through the member portal. Topics so far have covered Burn Out, 2023 Booking Trends, Fiji Tourism and more.

To give you an idea of what you can learn from these sessions, let’s take a brief look at the fascinating and informative Cowboy-Cations presentation, hosted by the Dude Ranch Association’s Bryce Albright and Austin Adventure’s Casey Morrisey.

Dude Ranch Association

  • They have seen increased interest in dude ranch vacations thanks to the success of Yellowstone and its spin-off shows.
  • Started in 1926, the association formed to preserve, protect and promote the cowboy and Western way of life experienced on dude ranches.
  • With more than 90 members, DRA is home to a wide variety of different dude ranches, but they all follow and meet certain standards, and they all focus on the 6 H’s: Horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty, and heart.
  • DRA member vacations are typically all-inclusive experiences, with meals, lodging and activities—alcohol is included for some ranches, but not most.
  • There are slightly more rustic “working cattle ranches,” which give you a closer look at what it’s like to actually be a cowboy day-to-day. But there are also higher end, luxury cattle ranches with spas, gourmet dining and more.
  • Regardless, lodging tends to be cabins or lodges with a rustic, Western-chic feel.
  • A big majority of activities take place on or near the dude ranch, including horseback riding, cattle drives, kids programs, spa services, swimming, zip lining, shooting sports, archery, wagon rides, and more. However, day trips to outside activities like rafting, fishing and national parks are also popular!
  • To help clients find the best DRA ranch for them, here are a few questions to ask:
    • What time of year for the trip?
    • Do you want to travel to any specific state?
    • What activities do you want, besides horseback?
    • How many other guests do you want present (some take 6, some take over 200)?
    • What kind of food/accommodations?

Austin Adventures

  • Based in Billings, Montana, with more than 60 years of combined experience and a portfolio of all-inclusive, small group adventures.
  • Their trips have a 6:1 guest to guide ratio, one of the lowest in the industry.
  • Fully guided by experts who act as concierge, drivers, entertainers, booking and more.
  • Of all Austin Adventures’ reviews, the aspect that consistently gets the highest praise is the guides.
  • Offer quite a few tours focused around National Parks.
  • They’re similar to dude ranches in a few ways: Typically all-inclusive (sans alcohol), roughly 5-7 night stays, great food, lots of activities that are similar to dude ranch vacations, and planning is simple.
  • They’re also different from dude ranches in some ways: Austin Adventures is more on the go, with two or three accommodations over a one-week stay, while dude ranches use the ranch as the homebase.
  • AA trips are also a bit more structured, because you’re typically matched with a few other families with kids of similar ages to enjoy activities together. For example, you might wake up, have breakfast on your own, then head out for kayaking with the whole group in the morning, then split up again for lunch—offering a mix of freedom and group bonding time.
  • The guides are the biggest difference, as your time at a dude ranch will likely involve different guides for each individual experience, while your guides will lead everything with Austin Adventures.
  • AA pays commission to tour advisors as well.

The presentation ended with a look at a Montana Adventure, the classic cowboy-cation, and a Q&A addressing audience questions. To learn more, view this Lunch & Learn’s recording through the FTA member portal.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are closed.