The desire for unique, all-access travel experiences continues to come into its own, with movies and TV shows offering an unending source of creativity for travel companies — with the right collaborations sifting the exceptional from the average.
While not a new concept, tapping into travelers’ streaming habits is becoming an even larger creative catalyst that is enabling travel businesses to offer a unique proposition for travelers, especially in an age of experiences-driven travel.
HBO’s hit series White Lotus effect is a case in point, spiking searches for travel to Italy and selling out stays for the Four Season‘s San Domenico Palace in Taormina, featured in the show.
Elsewhere, luxury travel company, Black Tomato, is set to allow travelers to tap into their alter-egos through “unheard of access” into the world of British secret agent James Bond 007, as it continues to see the impact of television and movie-centric itineraries on its bottom line.
Tom Marchant, a co-founder of Black Tomato, told Skift the company had seen a 170 percent growth in sales of TV and movie-inspired travel over the past five years, with 2022 being a record-setting year for the luxury travel company.
“The average booking value in 2018 was $26,500 versus $43,400 in 2022, which shows the trajectory for where bespoke, experiential luxury travel is headed,” Marchant said.
In its latest experience adventure, the company has partnered with EON Productions, the creative force behind the iconic British spy James Bond films since 1962. Travelers can choose from a menu of these hand-picked experiences to design a five-day or 12-day journey spanning five countries: the United Kingdom, France, Monaco, Italy, and Austria.
Headlined as The Assignment: Europe, the Bond-inspired itinerary is flush with action stunts lessons with Daniel Craig’s stunt double and an Aston Martin driving experience at Millbrook Proving Ground, made famous as the location where Casino Royale’s record-breaking car stunt, with seven consecutive canon rolls, was filmed. Guests will also learn to shake a Vesper martini in a masterclass with the bartender who consulted on both the recipes and bartending etiquette for Skyfall, Spectre and No Time to Die.
Action-packed appears to be an understatement, yet Marchant said his company had noted the hype around experiences to the extent that anything that isn’t traditional or mainstream could be labeled in this way. But not anymore, and it’s a sentiment echoing across the travel and hospitality sector.
“In the early days when we started Black Tomato, the word ‘experience’ wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and anything that was even slightly off the beaten track could be called an experience.
“But over the years, as things have evolved, more and more companies across all industries have adopted the moniker of experience and it has become diluted.
“For us, we see the word ‘experience’ in the same way we did when we started over 15 years ago, as a drive to deliver something truly unique, immersive and access-driven,” he said.
Dharma, an Abu Dhabi-based tour operator for businesses, is another example of this shift to immersive, access-driven experiences. The company shared a similar concept with Skift as it helps non-travel companies create tailored travel experiences for their existing communities or fandoms.
Tangibly Experience Bond’s Rich Movie History
Ali James, location manager for EON Productions, said this kind of experience travel puts creative storytelling at the heart of the concept.
James explained how she underwent a nostalgic trip into the Bond Film archives, so authenticity set the tone of the itinerary as they determined the locations and refined the experiences by involving many of EON’s iconic partners and people that have worked on the films.
“It’s about ensuring you have the creative expertise to bring timeless stories and literary adventures to life. Having had the privilege of scouting international locations on Spectre, I know first-hand how destinations play a pivotal role in the production process of the James Bond films.
“This creative collaboration allows us to get travelers into Bond’s world and offering truly extraordinary experiences, some of which are only accessible with these trips,” she added.
So while demand for this kind of iconic silver-screen, tailor-made trip has been simmering for some time, it is usually centered around shows that warranted multiple viewings, “from the moody waterfall intro in Twin Peaks to the lush scene-setters in Game of Thrones,” Black Tomato’s Marchant added.
The company launched a series called Set Jetting in 2016, with itineraries inspired by a host of television series where the ultimate goal was “capturing compelling cultural moments, and the attention and obsessions of viewers.”
The commonality between all of the experiences appeared to be iconic scenes and moments that act as a catalyst to go behind the scenes. And it’s not limited to a particular generation he added, although in this particular instance it is priced in the luxury segment.
Marchant said curated experiences at this level, meant he and his team pushed harder for special access and ways to source more unique, cultural interactions for clients.
“We wanted to find better ways to connect passion points and ultimately deliver something truly rare, immersive and enriching. This has driven our innovation and led to creating travel products and series from Blink, to Get Lost, and now of course, Bond.”
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Tags: tour operators, travel advisors, Travel Experiences, Travel Trends
Photo credit: Daniel Craig as James Bond. Courtesy of James Bond Indicia © 1962-2022 Danjaq and MGM EON Productions / EON Productios