Skift Take

The upcoming 2018 Experiential Traveler Report will present a deep dive into the mind of the modern traveler. Here's a sneak peek of our survey results.

The concept of “experiential travel” has become nearly ubiquitous, yet many in the travel industry continue to grapple with what exactly this term means, and how they can maintain their appeal to this customer base.

It gets especially tricky as this group’s desires, and the world in which they travel, continue changing rapidly.

In its second year, Skift’s Experiential Traveler Survey aims to understand the mindset of modern travelers, and this group in particular, by diving into their behaviors, motivations, and preferences. Results and analysis of the 2018 survey will be made available in a Skift Research report coming soon.

In one interesting data point from the survey, 69 percent of respondents said they would rather spend more money on better activities than a nicer hotel room (31 percent). [See more below.]

This year’s survey revisits some of the topics covered last year, although we give a new focus to vacation-planning behavior, particularly regarding booking channels.

In our 2018 Experiential Traveler Survey, we screened 2,377 U.S. adults in an attempt to understand the travel behavior of the general U.S. population. Those who took at least one extended leisure trip, one round-trip flight for non-business purposes, and who stayed at a hotel for at least one night in the last 12 months, then completed the rest of the survey. Some 1,208 respondents met these requirements and they provided a clearer picture of today’s traveler.

We will publish the report soon, but in the meantime check out a preview below of some of the survey data.

We asked questions meant to understand the importance of experiences to today’s traveler. Some 65 percent of respondents reported that it is more important to them to return from a trip having experienced something new than feeling rested and recharged.

What is more important to you when planning to travel?



Similarly, the survey indicates that the importance of experiences is accompanied by prioritizing activities over other parts of a vacation. When it comes to the importance of activities, 69 percent of respondents said they would rather spend more money on better activities than a nicer hotel room.

When traveling, would you rather spend more money on a nicer hotel or on activities such as tours, dining, and events?


Interestingly, results from other parts of the survey indicate that the desire for experiential travel doesn’t necessarily conflict with the desire for a relaxing vacation. The same traveler can want both.

When asked to describe their ideal travel experience, “relaxing” was selected most often (63 percent), but was followed by “exciting” (55 percent)  and “adventurous” (47 percent).

Which of the following words best describe your ideal travel experience? (Please select up to five words).



Stay tuned for full results and more analysis in the U.S. Experiential Traveler Report 2018. Check out for more info and updates about Skift Research.


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Tags: experiential, research reports, traveler

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