Wanderlust propels us onto the road, to explore, challenge ourselves, and to understand the world better.
With a measure of control in our hands, it makes us masters of our destiny. Infuse your destination knowledge and practical advice with that sense of wonder, and can help your clients realise their dream road trip in your destination.
State of the Road
The demand for immersive, authentic experiences continues to gain momentum – the road trip trend ticks both of those experiential boxes. Depending on which way you’re facing, it offers different perspectives on a destination, at different times of the year, which multiplies interest among road trippers.
The tourism trade is already responding accordingly, crafting experiences for independent and semi-guided road trips by motorbike, bicycle, electric bike, mobile accommodation, regular sedan or 4×4 vehicle. Their main motivations: flexibility, control over their movements, and the freedom of the open road.
The experience requires thorough planning and preparation, and access to information – all the traveller has to do is jump in or on their vehicle of choice, and explore at their own pace, in their own space, according to their own tastes.
Quest of the Road Tripper
Since exploration is their goal, setting the scene is your role. Consider who they are and what they want to do and see, research your destination, and be generous with your expertise. Essentially, make it easy for them and they’ll remember your brand for it.
What they want
Dig deep into your data, ask clients directly, and skulk around social media – you’ll unearth plenty of info to help personalise experiences for your road trippers. You’ll find they want:
- spectacular sunrises and sunsets in unique locations.
- to discover something unusual about your destination that may not appear in guidebooks.
- access to rural isolation, urban sophistication, and alpine, coastal, savannah, riverine, bush or desert landscapes.
- to invest in sustainable tourism practices that offset their carbon footprint and give something back to host communities.
- interaction with locals and opportunities to learn about their lifestyle.
- to visit farm stalls along a particular route with typical foods and treats of the region.
- accurate, up-to-date directions and maps from your location to different points of interest.
Tap into popular niches in your area: culinary; wine-tasting; local arts and crafts; nature and wildlife; adventure activities; sport; stargazing, etc. If they’re keen to experience the highlights of the destination, manipulate some added value from seasonal events, local festivals, and local living. Plan or book activities and excursions for your client, or provide info on your best recommendations, and the best route to drive there. Cut them some slack with flexible check-in and -out times to accommodate activities scheduled at odd times of the day.
How to say it
Your guest wants their road trip experience to read like an adventure story. Given your knowledge of the area, you know the best time to see and do things – that’s what your content should communicate. The dream road trip scenario is painted in dramatic language; so put on your best descriptive spin:
The descent to Pang is quite spectacular, particularly the last 5km that the road passes through a series of dramatic gorges…This unbelievable stretch hasn’t finished yet & will take you to the stunning Morey Plains, a relatively flat piece of land for 40-odd km at (hold your breath) 4,800m nestled among round-topped mountains
Then get practical about:
- basic rules of the road and local driving habits.
- local road conditions, surfaces, terrain, and traffic.
- one-ways, narrow lanes, potholes and dirt roads en route to secluded spots.
- toll roads or ferry crossings, and fares payable.
- access to fuel and service stations, and the local etiquette.
- access to ATM’s and shops en route.
- phone signal and WiFi connectivity in the area.
- offering your guest a private guide while they stay with you.
You can extend your basic meal offering to outdoor dining experiences, such as picnic baskets-to-go. Stay clued up on activities available in your vicinity and make that info freely available on your marketing collateral. And no matter how smooth the ride, the body gets weary – go the extra mile with soothing treatments to pamper your guests.
Who they are
Road trippers include all demographics with families, empty nesters and Generation X sans kids leading the way; Millennials are slowly catching up.
Assess their needs and try to cover them holistically with a packaged approach that makes it easier for them. You can set your brand apart from the generic by hooking this free-spirited traveller with niche products and specials that match their needs.
How your Brand Fuels the Trend
Start by supporting trade partners that embrace the trend. Collaborate with service providers and other suppliers in or near your area on a special interest or highlights package that showcases the entire destination. Keep up-to-date with social events coming up or incidental to your client’s travel dates through partnerships with your local communities. Curate all this juicy info in a way that’s easy (for trade and travellers) to access, and ensure that operators and agents are able to use your content in their proposals.
Some top tour operators are now offering customised self-drive holidays as they adapt to evolving demands of modern travellers. Self-drive tours are about independent travelling, but now even tailored end-to-end package providers are giving clients the liberty to explore places on their own.
The Economic Times
When you market your products to road trippers, create interest in your destination as a whole by highlighting the noteworthy sites and activities in your area. You also want to make it convenient for road trippers planning their own trips to include your products where they fit logically. Hitch your brand to iconic routes (from Route 66 in the USA to Route 62 in South Africa) or build some hype around routes like the Mongol Rally or anywhere in the Rockies.
Thank goodness not all destinations were made equal! It helps that they’re also multidimensional, covering a range of interests to tempt diverse tastes. Think interactions with local tribes or temple visits, wildlife viewing, stargazing, geology, jungle hikes or cliff diving, sports or adventure activities, wine- or craft beer tasting, local food and produce (never forgetting the associated etiquette). Tell the world how close you are to those prized local activities, and how unmissable they are!
Detours or stopping in lesser-known places often offer a better taste of true local flavour. Alert your road tripper to hidden gems and hot spots to/from and in your area, especially if they can stay on after other visitors have left or arrive beforehand for a quality experience of the location. Helping your client accidentally stumble across such a gem can create exactly the kind of memorable moment that motivates their future return for further exploration.
How you know you’ve made it easier
You’ll know by their feedback, online reviews, and social media. That applies to all their day tripping memories – good and bad. Imagine your guest drives a long way to visit a place they’d heard about, only to find the information was incorrect. Imagine they’re in their sedan rental and arrive at a remote location promising jaw-dropping views only to discover they needed a 4WD to navigate the rough terrain. Not only was that an all-out wasteful experience, but they’ll want to blame someone for the time they lost and can never get back.
You’ve made it easier if their trip went smoothly and they have nothing to complain about. With your advice and accurate local information, you can ensure that your client optimises their time in your destination.
When road trippers share their travel pics of iconic landscapes and unique sights on social media, their earned bragging rights can propel others to hit the road. This literally puts your destination, with all its quirks, beauty spots, and associated experiences, bang on the map.
Supporting your guests in their road tripping quest is a no brainer. It’s like being the best kind of backseat driver! Make it easier for them to indulge the immersive experiences they expect, and put your shoulder to the wheel of this trend. Because as long as there’s wanderlust in their souls, and roads to somewhere, there will be room for your brand and your destination on the next great road trip.