The Travel Industry, not unlike many industries, goes through phases as the marketplace for travel services changes. During the 1970’s travel was all about marketing travel as niche travel, the 1980’s changed that to Special Interest Groups or Specialty Travel. The 1990’s introduced ecotourism, which then morphed into responsible, sustainable and geotourism travel in the 2000’s.
Today, nearly two decades into the 21st century the travel industry has brought yet another new phrase to describe travel, experiential travel. Experiential travel has a different meaning to each traveler but essentially it is comprised of Adventure, Responsible, Special Interest and Active Holiday travel. Other inclusions in this new phase of travel also include Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events. That about covers most of traveler’s needs. The key ingredients to qualify for experiential travel are providing more than a trip, but having the travel experience being authentic, engaging and most important, it has a take-away value that is some form provides the traveler with a life enrichment experience.
No question the travel industry has witnessed the need for an experience rather than a trip. Travel companies that have traditionally (and still do) now offer their “trips” as experiential. As a travel company how do you know if you are delivering an experience and not just a trip?
Start with an assessment of your business. Is your company driven by selling into a room block and gaining high volume sales by marketing travel at the lowest possible cost? Does your company engage with travelers on the phone or are you leaving the sales process on the Internet?
Experiential Travel is all about the personal touches that make the experience unique, authentic and providing the enrichment from the travel experience. That is hard to provide with just online marketing. The experiential travel company understands that to truly engage a traveler you have to market to a specific audience. Digital marketing provides the opportunity to reach that audience with a message that resonates with them and causes a conversation to take place.
Experiential travel needs to be presented in a video format that is accessible on the technology device the experiential traveler uses to research their travel experiences. Your video content has to tell a story. Videos of drone shots covering vast amounts of landscape, cars racing through a city or town while music is playing loudly does not elicit much response. Video content that tells a story provides the traveler with a thought process that says, “wow, I would love to explore more”.
Of course, travel companies hesitate doing this type of marketing because of the potential for cost. The good news is, the experiential traveler is willing to pay more for an experience than just a trip. The fulfillment of an experience is high on the list for consumers today. Even Oprah Winfrey, someone who can buy things at will, boasted about how much having a travel experience meant to her over having material things in her life. The world is a great place to experience, are you ready to bring your part of it to a willing audience?