The most forward-thinking travel brands are delivering these types of experiences by focusing on three things above all else: inspiration, personalization and a path toward self-discovery.
The United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) is seeing in increasing numbers that travelers today are looking for more immersive experiences, and the rise in demand is spread across both emerging and traditionally popular destinations.
In its 2014 annual member survey, the USTOA reported that 93.3% of active tour operator members anticipate a growth in sales, with 59.6% of members forecasting growth anywhere from 7-10% or higher. Regarding the top emerging destinations gaining popularity in 2014, members cited Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and India. Meanwhile, the most popular destinations for USTOA member clients in 2014 are Italy, the U.K., China and Peru.
“According to our members, travelers want to forge deeper connections to the people, traditions and customs of the places they are visiting, and these experiences add a meaningful and memorable component to a vacation,” says Terry Dale, president/CEO of USTOA. “Nearly 40% of members cited Europe as the region of the world offering the most experiential travel options, perhaps not surprising given the wealth of cultural and gastronomic experiences available.
Asia ranked second, by 21% of participating members, followed by South America, named by 12% of members. With regards to adventure travel, nearly 30% of members cited Costa Rica as the region of the world offering the most adventure travel options.”
USTOA has become more active online communicating these trends with its “Travel Together” campaign, featuring on-the-ground experiences culled from AFAR magazine stories and videos from Tripfilms, highlighting local experiences with USTOA members and their clients.
Travel brands have to be more active with online blogs to promote their product, but many are not doing it well. They’re often afterthoughts relegated to pages buried deep in the website, poorly written with subpar photography and/or too infrequently updated.
Equally important, just as much time should be spent promoting and sharing travel content as creating it, via social media and search/email marketing, to establish a twoway dialogue with consumers. With today’s travelers spending so much time on travel research, it’s incumbent on travel brands to make their content compelling, actionable and readily available.
To do otherwise is turning their back on their customers.
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Photo credit: Cyclists in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Visit Ljubljana