Travellers depend on you to help them realise their dream experiences in bucket list destinations.

You know your location and what activities are available that would interest them and members of their travel party. You can advise them on the options and, in doing so, also empower them to choose how they want to flesh out their visit. You make it all happen and they leave the experience exhilarated and ready to return. And this year, experiences are all the rage!

Experience is the new currency

The motivation for travellers to do something for the first time will influence their choice of destinations and accommodation. Research shows that they will have a bigger travel budget this year and will be keen to use it to treat themselves and their loved ones.

Understanding what your target customers wish to experience helps you identify ways to supplement your basic offering, enabling you to go that extra mile to make a more attractive offer and score major points with them. Value adds are vital to your sale, whether you weave culinary or cultural activities into their stay – perhaps package their stay with a visit to some local restaurants, epicurean markets, or locally-observed rituals like a coffee brewing ceremony in Zanzibar. Where the locals are keen to show off their lifestyle and neighbourhood to visitors, that’s an avenue to explore that benefits everyone.

The customer experience

One way that the consumer experience has been impacted by developments in technology is that consumers now want apps for everything. Modern travellers expect to benefit from the integration of mobile technology into travel – from the planning and booking stages, right through the travel stage and after. You’re going to have to be able to give them access to quality content for their trip planning and make it digital, or risk being beaten to the sale.

More than 3 in 4 travellers agree that their smartphones are very important, even critical. – Review Trackers

They will also expect tailored offers. Personalising their experiences potentially fast tracks loyalty to your brand. For some, air-con and WiFi will outrank breakfast and a swimming pool in importance, and become decisive factors.

Why not offer your product information in your target customer’s own language? It builds loyalty too, presenting your brand as one that pays attention and takes care of your customer’s preferences in an overcrowded content space characterised by generic offerings and marketing content.

It’s about being sensitive to the needs of international travellers by offering the best possible purchasing experience. And this includes convenient access to motivational content that speaks to them on different levels, on whatever device they use to research travel.

Experiential travel

Did you know that 69% of global travellers plan to try something new this year? Studies show that travellers choose hotels based on price, online reviews, videos and pictures posted online, proximity to key attractions, and proximity to transport options. You need this information to refine and polish the client experience.

Consumers are choosing experiences over stuff… experience is the new branding. – Brian Solis

Marketing to your client must take its cue from the knowledge you’ve built of that client. The right content will evoke emotion in a very personal, direct way, which sits at the heart of experiential travel. It makes sense then to invest heavily in visual imagery to appeal to your prospective client. The more vivid the visual, the greater the impact. And remember: moving images move audiences.

As travellers rely increasingly on recommendations from online reviews, your participation in this space is an investment in reputation and crisis management. Engage the public, illustrate your empathy, and gauge client satisfaction with your service. Use the stories told by satisfied clients – this is the ultimate trustworthy source: word-of-mouth accounts of other travellers.

Humanise your brand, get creative and interactive with your storytelling, so they can visualise themselves experiencing your offerings.

Snapshots of experiential travel in 2016

The common denominator is the desire to experience something specific and fully. The traveller will be more conscientious about purchasing travel products that reflect those desires. Prove that you know your client by giving them the experiences they want, and they’ll repay your efforts handsomely with their loyalty.

  • Try multi-generational travel: For families road tripping in a camper van, enjoying nature or grandparents treating children and grandchildren to a wildlife safari holiday. Their priority is to share quality time and create lasting memories together.
  • Try cruise travel: Ocean cruising promises all-inclusive luxury, gourmet dining and onshore excursions to add variety on the one hand. On the other, river cruising continues to grow in popularity as a more affordable option. Partnerships with land-based service providers add huge value to the basic offering if done well.
  • Try adventure and activity travel: For travellers who desire an escape from daily routine and want to challenge themselves. Adrenaline-filled activities such as trekking, rafting or zip-lining earn them bragging rights and make them feel like pioneers braving unique or untouched places.
  • Try wellness travel: For health conscious travellers or seekers of deep relaxation inside-out healing. They want detox menus, healthy vending machines, in-room exercise equipment, yoga spaces and opportunities to commune with nature, near water, in mountains, forest or desert moonscape.

Take note of this unfolding trend: crisp sheets and firm pillows are no longer enough. Personalised, memorable experiences, sold with the digital imperative in mind, promoted with emotive, interactive content are required. Invest your brand in the priceless currency of memorable travel experiences.

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