discover italy with experiential tourism

Experiential travel trends that your travel agency must know about in 2018

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Everybody in the industry is talking about experiential travel and how it is changing the whole the sector.

In fact, some of the largest names in tourism such as Airbnb and TripAdvisor have shown major interest in experiential travel and the focus on Memory Making experiences. Investing time and money into the accessibility of these experiences to their clients, we can safely say this new branch of tourism is here to stay.

The success and growth of experiential travel.

The Airbnb company really delved into experiential travel and its trends in 2016 when they started their “Experiences” initiative. Airbnb now offers over 4,000 experiences across 50 cities and, according to a travel industry blog from WellToDo, within one year “The number of active experiences grew 500%

TripAdvisor also tells a similar story of the success and growth in experiential tourism that they have seen. In 2017, according to their 2018 travel trends report, 30,000 new experiences were added to the website resulting in a 50% increase of all the available experiences, tours and attractions they offer.

So which have been the biggest trends in experiential travel ?

Memories made in Florence: The Four Seasons project.

The term Making Memories is really beginning to catch on amongst businesses in the travel sector and it’s the phrase many in the industry are using to respond to the demand of experiential tourism.

The Four Seasons Hotel in Florence have started surfing the wave of Making Memories by introducing some new initiatives to entice more travellers.

The motive for pushing these new projects comes from the increased competition from other hotels and destinations that are smaller and less popular than The Four Seasons and Florence, but this is a whole other matter of its own.

So, what did the Four Seasons do? They’ve been releasing a range of experiences marketed as only-in-Florence and only-at-the-Four-Seasons events.

For example, one experience from the Four Seasons is the opportunity to avoid the masses by having an exclusive cocktail party on a patio rooftop by the Ponte Vecchio. The author of a Forbes article, on experiential travel, experienced this product and described it as a “Memory Maker” explaining that the hotel had created their own unique experience which is becoming the “next big travel industry arm race”.

So, what was this whole other matter of increased competition from less popular destinations?

Fleeing from the masses.

According to an article from Momondo, all the popular big city destinations are experiencing problems of overtourism, such as Florence. Due to this, more travellers are searching for other big cities that are less popular, crowded, expensive and less based around tourists.

A statistic from Skift’s survey (23,000 people surveyed) showed that 50% of travellers didn’t want to feel like a tourist in their holiday destination. So now, clients are more interested in more authentic, genuine and smaller destinations away from the masses of tourists.

Travelling for achievements.

Momondo also touches upon another new trend that is growing fast, achievement travel or in other words the search for a challenge. People are beginning to strive for travel that leaves them feeling proud of what they have accomplished on their time away from home.

Travel Weekly Asia writes in one article that 2018 will see more tourists trying to achieve “lifelong goals” or simply “find themselves”. This can range from travellers climbing to the summits of mountains in South Tyrol, as the locals do, to being able to have a conversation in italian.

Our clients now want to set personal goals and achieve them.

Keeping with this mentality of a desire to learn and achieve something, cooking classes have become one of the new biggest trends in tourism over the last year. It seems that going abroad and tasting the traditional food isn’t enough anymore, our tourists want to understand how it’s done.

Slow food, fast growth.

TripAdvisor’s 2018 travel trends report showed that both cooking classes and food tour bookings grew by 57%, food tours actually had the largest growth in 2017 according to gross booking value.

Some of the fastest growing experiences last year was a cooking course in Barcelona, including how to make Paella, and a guided street food tour in the Italian capital city, Rome.

Travellers desperate for new experiences

In Skifts survey, 65% of the participants said “I want to come back having experienced something new” when asked what is more important to you when planning travel.

From the variety of trends we have mentioned here we can see that cooking classes, climbing up mountains and visiting the more authentic areas of our travel destinations are more popular than ever because the tourists desperate for new experiences.

These sought after activities and experiences are a product of the desire for experiential travel and travellers wanting to interact and understand the people, history and culture of their travel destinations.

As experiential tourism is on the rise, operators are increasingly adapting to this new traveler need by creating a new type of offer, such as Artès’ listing: from Sicily to Northern Italy, you will easily find experiences that can address all interests, as they are developed with the format of real “stories to live together”: feel free to have a look at their full catalogue at this link.