Tourists and travellers are constantly evolving in the kind of expectations they have from a destination. What one wants out of a vacation is no more limited to guided tours of the highlights of a city or a region. There is a desire, an urge to go beyond the superficial elements of a place and explore it more comprehensively. Travelling has taken a more experience-driven route, which is why experiential travel has steadily been on the rise over the last few years. Research by TripAdvisor has found that travellers seek out for a mixture of new experiences and unique visits to iconic places.
What is experiential travel?
Experiential travel revolves around cultural exploration and activity-based travel experiences. Tourists and travellers don’t want to simply check things off their bucket list any more. They want to seek out experiences that enrich them and make them engage with a place and a culture in a more intimate way. Authenticity has become a core principle for a lot of travellers today. Tourists want to go beyond gazing out of a tourist bus and actually spend time interacting with locals.
Culinary travel has been a huge part of experiential travel trends. Travellers are seeking out unique culinary experiences in the places they’re in. Food is so intrinsically linked to the culture of a place that it becomes a point of social and emotional connection for the traveller. Travellers want more interactive experiences where they are no longer passive viewers.
How are travellers evolving in their tastes?
Travellers today are interested in exploring the hidden gems of a place. They are tired of run-of-the-mill experiences that are catered for mass tourism. The 2018 TripAdvisor report highlights how “travelers are expanding their horizons and bringing growth to new, non-traditional and experiential categories.”
In the face of such an evolution, tour operators are tasked with curating travel experiences that can provide their customers with new, authentic ways to understand the world better through the destinations they are visiting. The need for homogenised experiences is slowly taking a back seat.
How technology has aided experiential travel
The rise of social media and the pervasiveness of the internet has opened many new avenues for travellers. Smartphones have made life unimaginably simple for travellers while visiting a new place. They have the world at their fingertips. Exploring uncharted territories, booking unique experiences and going through a host of options to choose the best, is why experiential travel has become so relevant.
Social media platforms like Instagram have given users the opportunity to reach out to a huge audience and share their travel stories. Given the number of travel bloggers on Instagram, there is a constant demand for these bloggers to give their audiences new, unique content. Content that sets them apart. This is another contributing factor to travellers seeking out experiences that are distinct and out-of-the-box.
Popular culture has also been instrumental in encouraging people to explore offbeat experiences and destinations. Television and cinema have always made viewers curious about the destinations they are filmed in. This has directly given rise to more pop culture-inspired travel.
Essentially, experiential travel is slowly reshaping the way people engage with a new place. There are significant shifts in what consumers want out of a vacation today. Authenticity seems to be the new mantra.