Road Warriors: Don Martinson, Natural Habitat Adventures

(Courtesy of Dan Martinson)

Each year, Luxury Travel Advisor introduces its Trendsetters, in which we highlight top advisors from the most prestigious luxury travel agencies across the United States and beyond. Now, to feature those who help make the Trendsetters the rock stars they are, we’re debuting Luxury Travel Advisor’s Road Warriors.

All of our 2019 Road Warriors are suppliers who were selected by our most recent batch of Trendsetters. Next up is Don Martinson, director from Natural Habitat Adventures. He’s currently on his second stint with Nat Hab, where he serves as director of travel industry relations (or, nature ambassador to travel advisors, as he puts it). He was originally hired in 1995 (after meeting founder Ben Bressler at a wedding and hitting it off), but left in 1998 to go back to school (he then worked for an airline and opened a small business). In 2007 he returned to Nat Hab, where he has remained.

“I believe in influencing the influencers with regards to nature travel in highly sustainable manner. I talk about the why and how and not the what on Natural Habitat Adventures,” Martinson tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “I love doing this because strongly believe in what we bring to travelers—transformative experiences that help them return with a greater appreciation for nature and wildlife.”

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And to influence the influencers, it’s all about the storytelling.

Martinson says he shares personal experiences with advisors. “I talk about my daughter’s and my trip to see polar bears when she was nine, how I bring my dogs to work… about 100 million monarch butterflies taking flight in Mexico, having a surprise sunset cocktail hour after a game drive in the Serengeti with my wife and daughter, and waking up to a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean and a counting dozen giant tortoises from a tree house at Natural Habitat Adventure’s Tortoise Camp in the Galapagos.”

What doesn’t he talk about? “I don’t mention day-to-day itineraries or the thread count and square footage of our rooms.”

Martinson engages with advisors both in person at hosted lunches and dinners and online and over the phone. At the hosted events, he says they are usually a split between solo Nat Hab events or in conjunction with other similar suppliers (such as Lindblad Expeditions and Backroads). Natural Habitat Adventures also host FAM trips for their polar bear tours and Martinson joins advisors on those.

He adds that he constantly keeps in touch with the top-third of producing advisors. Martinson says he also reaches out when new advisors find their way into the top of the top or if others drop out to see what’s changed.

Expanding your horizons as a traveler is key, Martinson tells us, adding that travelers “don’t know what they don’t know.” For advisors, encouraging a new product or style of travel is essential and this can be done in as simple a manner as sharing a video in a short email saying, ‘I saw this video and thought of you! Let me know if you want more info.’ That can be all that’s needed to get a booking, Martinson says.

Growing up in Utah, Martinson spent much of his youth exploring National Parks, as well as the mountains, canyons, rivers, lakes and deserts found out west. He is based on Longmont, CO (Boulder County) but is on the road 10 to 15 days a month, mostly January through May and September to November.

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