A destination experienced in motion, across different locations, invites a rich, immersive journey that taps into a bygone era of travel – a new niche for modern travellers.
There’s something so luxurious about a train journey, something so adventurous about a mobile safari, and something so exclusive about both… especially when organised and planned to perfection by someone with expert knowledge.
To Move is the Thing
The views, stops and experiences along the way, like reels of landscape unfolding before the eyes, observing the shape, size and composition of a destination. The traveller imagines themselves taking leisurely meals and drinks, enjoying languid moments of reflection and opportunities to socialise or bond. There’s time to just do nothing but stare, connect or disconnect depending on mood.
Last year, my nieces took their first European trip with me. My idea was to travel independently from one place to another quickly but slowly, if you get my drift. I really needed a break from the wheel; so on that trip, driving was out – train travel was in. It was a great way to show them the ropes, and teach them the experience of journeying, to understand it’s not always about arriving.
According to a recent Booking.com survey, around 25% of travellers would sooner plan trips based on a journey than a destination.
The lure of the journey is that it gives you back time in buckets, with plenty of opportunities to bond over unique cultural and lifestyle experiences along the way. For the traveller to feel that sense of freedom and independence, they need to have a plan, information and an element of convenience woven into the experience. Independent travel is exciting but can be risky. We were a bit stranded one evening, having arrived at a very quiet, nearly deserted train station in the north of France with no taxi’s in sight nor any idea how far we were from our guesthouse. Our hosts would’ve scored major brownie points if they’d offered transfer services to/from train stations. There are opportunities here for train operators and accommodation suppliers to partner up and provide their guests with packaged deals and those extra services that make it so much easier for the traveller to choose this style of travel.
Journeys that Rock ‘n Rail
Train travel answers the growing interest in the journey. Passengers are privy to unique views and experiences often unavailable to motorists or other forms of transport. Rural expanses, urban sprawls, mountain passes, hidden valleys, spectacular bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and iconic station buildings, paint a portrait of exclusive access – only to the passengers on a train passing by at that exact moment.
Whether they’re keen on experiencing the old world charm of vintage trains or sleek, high-tech modernity, train products are varied enough to cater to diverse tastes, both with standard, modern on-board amenities. Some structurally modern trains feature improved visibility with bigger windows. Yet the romance of train travel lies in all the trappings that people imagine about its glamorous past – the liveried staff, gourmet dining, premium drinks and cigars in the viewing compartment, beautiful sleeping quarters, and general pampering.
Research shows that train companies are diversifying their offerings in interesting ways to add onto this nostalgic appeal, with themed experiences based on niche interests or special events taking place in-destination. Experiences range from budget through to old world luxury and target markets include diverse travel personas. The number of luxury trains being launched across the globe is significant, as is the development of new routes around new infrastructure, which just goes to show how much interest in train travel has grown. This signals great potential for additional revenue and growing partnerships among train companies, railway stations and local communities.
Unique is Always On Trend
What makes these modes of travel so attractive to travellers is the knowledge that they’re doing something different from mainstream tourism. They want to get away from the ordinary and feel they’ve been let in on a secret. The notion of going off the beaten track and exploring somewhere new harks back to a very romantic time in the history of travel. Sharing their trip on social media allows them to show off their photographic prowess and be ‘first’ to capture a unique perspective, and of course to brag about their extraordinary, exclusive experience.
What defines unique? Until such time that we can travel to Uranus, one way of doing unique Earthbound travel is the ability to cover more distance, experiencing different destinations on the same trip. Or, to experience a familiar destination in new, different ways, like by rail or mobile accommodation. Each mode of travel opens up a range of experiences removed from the mainstream. Locations can vary from their neighbours, rural can vary from urban, seaside from mountain, each with different things to see and things to do, people to meet; terrain to explore or hard-to-come-by activities to indulge in. You know your area best, and by sharing what you know, you become the go-to brand for travellers with this specific taste for something different.
The Luxury of Mobile Accommodation
Pick a travel persona, from Baby Boomers all the way down to Generation Z: they just want to relax! Modular travellers are particularly attracted to in-depth, slow-paced niche tourism products they can simply stitch together. They represent a growing market of well-travelled 30 to 49 year-olds in search of new perspectives in familiar destinations. They’re too busy for detailed research or trip planning, so presenting them with a selection of curated experiences they can just pick and choose from, is an absolute luxury. A couple of well-crafted experiences to combine into one multimodal trip makes it easier for them.
The fact that everything is/will be taken care of is another luxury: transport; meals; activities; access to WIFI and facilities that add value, comfort and convenience; and of course, expert guidance. According to TrekkSoft, these travellers desire a luxurious return to destinations they previously experienced on lower budgets or in less depth. That means they’re willing to spend a bit more for a touch of class.
Mobile Safaris do it Deeper
The concept is simple, the experience rich, immersive and luxurious. You already understand the lure of the wild, the fascination with authentic wilderness experiences. Mobile safari takes the concept a step deeper, recalling the era of travel pioneers who experienced nature and wildlife closely, intimately. A safari lover who has stayed in game lodges might crave a deeper experience with no more than a handful of guests and crew, al fresco meals under an ancient, arboreal giant, outdoor massages, and nightly camp fires.👇
Luxury is a camp crew taking care of all their needs and an expert guide leading them through the pristine, uncharted terrain. Depending on the niche you service, experiences could include conservation, tracking, foraging activities, or local interactions. Depending on your destination, cater to your guests’ special interests like climbing, horse-riding, birding, water-based activities, or animal migrations.
For some it’s a treat simply to enjoy game viewing in different locations at a leisurely pace, observing habitats changing with the landscape. A lodge full of guests won’t offer that kind of intimacy. More time than usual at watering holes, and better viewing at hard-to-access spots – that’s unique.
Tap that Niche
Forget the year’s top global destinations – everywhere has the potential for spontaneous discovery. Mobile accommodation holds the appeal of nostalgia, luxury and exclusivity for the guest who wants a unique way to experience and journey through your destination.