Experiential itineraries are at the leading edge of the travel industry, with clients seeking bespoke, curated experiences over one-size-fits-all, generic tours. Travel is no longer about ticking monuments off a checklist, it is about delving deeply and personally into a destination, developing an intimate sense of place and animated dinner party storytelling.
Once the preserve of a handful of in-the-know agents, the industry is being blown wide open by the online giants of Airbnb and Tripadvisor, among many, who are offering one-on-one experiences with passionate locals who want to share their knowledge with the world.
Spearheaded by the increasingly wealthy millennial generation who are seeking experience over ‘things’, the desire of travellers to ‘book local’ is growing year-on-year and with the baby boomer generation bored of traditional travel the shift in the market towards ‘doing’ rather than ‘seeing’ is pronounced. Prospective customers are after highly-customisable itineraries and trips that are tailored to their own desires.
The 2017 Skift US Experiential Travel Survey saw 69% of travellers show a preference to spend more on better activities than on a nicer hotel room. And the same percentage didn’t use an agent to book their travel in the previous 12 months.
In order to meet increasing demand, agents and advisors are having to develop a deeper understanding of client expectations and how they are going to meet them with carefully curated and original activities. But how do you personalise experiential travel?
Having a range of experiences each of which is immersive, offers exclusive insider access and is, wherever possible, absolutely unique, is essential.
Art lovers want to be able to meet the artists or have empty gallery tours with an exhibition curator. Makers want to learn a craft from an artisan and fashion their own memento. First time visitors want to see the sights in a different way, by bicycle, scooter, Segway or in a chauffeured vehicle. Architecture aficionados will appreciate time spent alone contemplating the grandeur of a private storied opera house, while the inquisitive will satisfy their curiosity with a personal tour of Roman palazzos, led by the aristocrats who inhabit them. Rocco Forte Hotels offers all of this.
Each of our properties have a carefully-curated selection of unique and original experiences. Guests of our Forte Suites can choose from a range of complimentary cultural experiences, from unusual tours and masterclasses to behind-the-scenes meetings with influential insiders. At Verdura Resort, we take personalisation a step further. Guests of our villas are assigned their own local insider, or U Canuscituri (the connoisseur) who introduces them to the island and remains on hand to answer questions, share insights and divulge Sicilian secrets.
As experiential travel continues to grow in popularity the difficulty will come setting yourself apart from the crowd by having an ever-changing roster of experiences. Travellers who come away from an experience with the feeling that it surpassed their expectations will ultimately return time and again, safe in the knowledge that their next trip will be just as life changing.