Opportunities for travel agencies approaching italy as destination for experiential tourism

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As the experience economy keeps moving forward in the travel industry, offering experiential tourism services becomes less of a choice and more of a full-time commitment for travel agencies. We already discussed how travel agencies can (and should) promote Italy as an experiential destination but let’s dive deeper in the opportunities Italy offers to operators by understanding what makes the Italian peninsula the perfect experiential travel destination.

The Italian way of life as experiential travel & tourism offer

After Airbnb’s research, CEO Brian Chesky stated that ‘three in four millennial’s said they’d rather buy an experience than a physical good’ (Recode, 2018). This shift in the perception of what makes a quality life is well explained by Alvin and Heidi Toffler, in their book “Future Shock“: a process of “psychologization” pushes human beings to strive for a better “quality of life” which is defined depending on the type of the economy we live in.

Italy as a destination brand has always been connected to a new refreshing and mindful way and, thus, higher quality of life: the Italian dolce vita keeps charming travelers looking forward to experiencing it while in Italy. This scenario presents important opportunities for travel agencies and operators, who can follow along with the experiential consumer behaviour by offering to indulge in memorable “Italian” experience, as a pampering luxury, yet desirable, service (American Express Research).

Italy as a personalized experiential travel opportunity

According to Google/Phocuswright, if a travel brand tailored its information and overall trip experience based on personal preferences or past behavior, 36% would be likely to pay more for their services. Simply put, “personalization is the name of the game in 2018 when it comes to the travel customer experience” (Skift, 2018) and thanks to the wide range of high-quality experiential travel suppliers, there’s certainly no better destination than Italy to address specific need as such.

Let’s not forget what the recent Experiential Traveler report from Skift and Peak Adventure Travel Group articulates about the direct relationship between globalization, technologies, and destinations that have “led to the homogenization of cities,” according to Jamie Wong, founder/CEO of Vayable. As a result of this, “travelers are craving locally made and authentic experiences” that operators can easily acknowledge on Instagram where “with minimal research, users can discover where their friends have visited, how they traveled, and the micro-moments they experienced while they were there” (Origin)

Italy in the experiential traveler’s bucket list

As reported by American Express Research about emerging trends and top destinations for 2018, Rome seems to gain always the first positions for experience travel.

If we add that nearly half of respondents (43%) cite finding a local culinary spot in a hip neighborhood as the most exciting dining experience while traveling, while “52% enjoy getting lost and spontaneously discovering hidden restaurants, shops, and bakeries to create their own memories”, Italy becomes the best destination to live a memorable gourmet experience.

However, the term “experience” has still a wide range of meaning. As an example of this, according to Booking.com, the travelers that have a travel bucket list in mind are more likely to feature in 2018:

  • seeing one of the wonders of the world (47%)
  • trying a local delicacy (35%)
  • heading to an island paradise and visiting a world famous theme park (34%)
  • experiencing a unique cultural event (28%)
  • learning a new skill (27%),
  • going on an epic road or rail journey (25%)
  • visiting a remote or challenging location (25%)

Also historic and heritage experiences saw the most growth (+125% in bookings), TripAdvisor reported recently, together with cooking classes and food tours, both gaining their spot among the top five categories, each with 57% bookings’ growth, one of the highest in 2017.

All kind of activity that customers are seeking in 2018 can be easily found in the Italian experiential offering, where “the Italian experience” can easily become engaging with its local culture, breathtaking nature and landscape, warm and welcoming people, exciting activities and sports,

and much more.

Italian experiential tourism operators are keen on finding new international partnerships

As reported on Skift Report about The Rise of Experiential Travel, Jaclyn Sienna India, owner of the Sienna Charles luxury travel agency, said that “Experiential travel can mean different things to different people, and it is 100% overused, but for me it’s about experiencing the core of the destination […]. When I design trips for my clients, whether it’s Italy or South Sudan, that experiential element is always the common thread in everything I create.”

As experiential tourism becomes an increasingly important part of the Italian tourism offer, operators are always keen on developing new partnerships with international specialized travel agencies. While OTAs such as TripAdvisor Experiences, Airbnb and GetYourGuide keep taking their tolls on Italian tour and activity operators while addressing a large mass tourism market, travel agencies can find in the Italian experiential travel offering a great opportunity for highly local, tailored unique experience for their customers by developing partnerships with niche suppliers, such as Artès.

The Artès project aims to develop real “stories to live together” where the client feels deeply absorbed by the experience: whether your clients wants to dive in the mysteries of Venetian Casanova or live the romantic side of Milan, Artès Stories to live are specifically designed to address all customer’s experiential needs and interests in Italy and its cultural and social heritage. Feel free to have a look at their full catalogue at this link.