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Experiential Travel Isn't Going Anywhere

It’s safe to say that the “Top Travel Trend’ of experiential travel has evolved to become a mainstay in the travel industry. What was once reserved only for the wealthy is now an expectation of keen and curious travelers from all walks of life, seeking experiences that can’t simply be stuffed in a photo album and forgotten. Mass tourism is losing its appeal, and the expectations of travelers is for something deeper. Stuffy tours are being replaced with full-immersion experiences. A trip to Europe is no longer simply seeing the Eiffel tower and Colosseum, it’s stomping on juicy grapes at a vineyard or making pasta with a local Nonna. Why take a day-tour of the rain forest when you could stay in a tree-house complete with neighboring Howler monkeys?

Experiential travel means different things to different people, depending on budget, lifestyle and interests. The greater the means, the easier it is to acquire unique experiences. For some this may mean a behind-the-scenes tour of Louis Vuitton in Paris, for others it may be spelunking the marble caves of Chile. No longer are once-in-a-lifetime experiences reserved for the rich, everyone years to cross items off their bucket list – and many travelers find a way to do just that, working within their budget to make it happen in some form or other. Not only do authentic travel experiences fulfill a traveler’s needs, they can also assist in supporting and developing small business and local economies – reaching beyond the mainstream and ‘big-box’ travel experiences. As a result, many DMO’s and tour operators are encouraged (and sometimes funded) by their local governments to provide unique local experiences.

What does it mean for businesses? Experiential travel starts long before the traveler departs, and has a lasting effect. In the digital age, travelers (and potential travelers) can preview and share experiences with raw Tripadvisor content, YouTube videos, and through Instagram and Facebook. Experiential travel is deeper, more emotional and piques curiosity, and its related content is prime marketing material just waiting to be shared.


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