For the last decade destinations have fought hard for airtime on reality shows, but we may be seeing a new metric for tourism success: the Bourdain Bump.
The series quickly gained a following after its premiere season in 2013 and later won two Emmys for best information series and outstanding cinematography for nonfiction programming for season one’s trip to Myanmar.
We were curious if a show that was both critically acclaimed and popular actually stirred consumer interest, so we turned to Priceline to find out if consumer behavior changed for a destination in the 48 hours after it was featured on Parts Unknown.
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According to data provided by Priceline, in the 48 hours after Parts Unknown‘s Sicily episode aired on Sunday, October 13, U.S. search activity for the three airports in Sicily soared 88.8 percent over the previous week.
Critics could chalk it up to a rise in searches for holiday travel, but a second search performed over the same dates for all Italian airports — excluding Sicily’s — showed only a 5.1 percent hike week over week.
The other big news about Sicily this week was the death of migrant workers on their way from Tunisia to the island, but this is not the type of event that leads to airline booking inquiries.
“It’s great to think that people who watch Parts Unknown might be inspired to explore places outside of their daily lives,” said the show’s executive producer Sandy Zweig after seeing the spike.
“If they’ve become curious enough about Sicily — or Myanmar or Congo or Tokyo — to consider traveling there then we’ve done our job. ”
The significant spike is also interesting because the Sicily episode had a rough start. Scheming tour operators told Bourdain he would catch fresh sea creatures for that night’s dinner, but then tossed dead fish in the water and assumed that Bourdain would be too dense to notice.
We’ll be working again with Priceline next week to see how consumers react to the forthcoming South Africa episode.