What does experiential tourism mean?
What’s your first thought when booking a holiday? ‘Where’s hot?’ ‘Where’s cheap?’
Or is it ‘where can I go to do something I love or try something I’ve never experienced before?’ If so, you’re part of a growing trend of experiential tourists.
Experiential tourism is simply a marketing approach which focuses on promoting visitor experiences or activities, rather than the traditional ‘destination’ tourism approach of attracting people en masse by marketing the destination itself – think Ibiza in mid-summer…
Travellers increasingly want to learn about new cultures and enjoy a taster of local foods, activities and arts. A place might take your fancy a lot more once you find out you could try out forest bathing, make pizzas with your own hand-picked herbs or learn to wood-carve in a forest.
What’s in it for your organisation?
Extending the visitor season by tapping into the experiential market has proven to be extremely lucrative in other parts of the world.
In Maine (US), clever marketing for experiencing autumn colours increased visitors 13% October-December in 2017.
Off-season visits to Tasmania grew 50% by 2017 after a new festival was created to celebrate Australia’s longest night.
Every region in the world has its own unique character - and therefore a different appeal - to visitors. So what’s yours?
Attracting visitors not just through the summer and spring but into autumn and winter means more visitors spending money on eating, drinking, accommodation, trying out activities, transport, you name it. This means more year-round jobs and a healthier local economy.
So how do you convince visitors that autumn and winter have a lot to offer? This is where EXPERIENCE comes in. We’re offering training and support to organisations to come up with intriguing experiences that visitors can only enjoy between October and March – resulting in rich, happy and even unexpected memories!
Be specific about your target market. Think of which demographics have the time, money and desire to travel in the off-season - it could be retirees, people with accessible needs, active people who don’t mind any weather, or groups of younger people wanting a nature getaway from the city.
Then come up with some genius ideas for giving them an unforgettable break! Finally, get clever at marketing. Instead of hoping people don’t think about the unpredictable weather, promote activities that actually lend themselves to cooler conditions, such as an invigorating walk or cycle along a coastal path followed by a hearty local dish in a pub with a roaring fire.
How does sustainable tourism work?
Sustainable tourism is at the heart of EXPERIENCE, meaning it’s just as important to protect and enhance our natural and cultural environment and the way of life for local people, as it is to boost the year-round economy.
But won’t attracting more visitors create problems? That’s the beauty of offering off-season experiences, rather than spring/summer activities - to spread visitors out across the year as well as geographically across any given region. We’re learning the lessons of destinations across the world that have suffered from ‘excess success’ in terms of visitor numbers. The point of being sustainable is exactly that – to create something that lasts long-term, not something that takes without giving back.
Finally, of course, a low-carbon approach is an important aspect of EXPERIENCE – we’ll encourage and use options such as solar and automated lighting and heating, local suppliers to reduce food miles and recycled materials for signs and surfaces whenever possible.
- Tasmania’s Dark Mofo winter festival
- Maine’s autumn colours
- Sustainable Travel trends for 2021
- Why COVID-19 will bring a shift towards personalized, experiential-based loyalty programs (2020)
- Travel trends that will drive the industry - Travel all comes down to experiences
- The rise of experiential travel and its impact on tours and activities