February 3, 2022
Skift & Destination USA recently polled thousands of travelers to get a pulse on the state of tourism and travel. We highly recommend viewing the report: Engaging and Inspiring International Travelers in a New Era. It gives us a great overview of what tourists are seeking right now as they venture out into the world.
While travel preferences rarely change much, there is one thing that is always changing: the competitive landscape of the travel industry. Staying up to date on travel trends can help you zoom in on your competitive edge. Let’s look at some of the key findings and what they mean for your tour & activity.
Stress relief was the #1 benefit travelers seek out, and personal wellbeing was #3. “Hoping to shake off isolation, burnout, fear, and frustration, travelers want to engage with different cultures and communities for varying reasons.”
While of course laying on a beach for 7 days straight is one way to travel, people are waking up to the idea that rest and relaxation aren’t the only ways to relieve stress. Being out in nature and spa outings are some of the more obvious stress relievers, but what other ways can we cater to the wellbeing of travelers?
People are becoming very innovative out in the world when it comes to this. For example - destructive therapy. You can go somewhere and smash plates, and it’s supposed to help you release pent up emotions. So the question is: how can YOU innovate in an industry that has always been known for stress relief? What new ideas can you bring to the table?
The #2 benefit people seek out when traveling is to learn something new. 32% of survey responders also said education was the experience they sought out while traveling. So what are you teaching your guests?
We spend our entire lives learning in school systems and classrooms, only to eventually graduate and go off into the world where we can learn on our own terms. It is natural to want to learn, because that’s how we grow as a society. If learning = growth, what sort of things do you believe your guests want to discover?
Sharing hobbies, rituals, beliefs, values… they all have some sort of benefit for the traveler. Our cultural curiosities drive us to explore, and it’s up to you to give them something that captures their attention.
Beaches trumped cities in this survey, and water activities such as boating, fishing, kite surfing, and water skiing were more likely to influence someone to book a visit. Have you ever stopped to wonder what it is about the water that pulls people in?
Water activities invite in play, flow, and a heightened sense of freedom. The healing powers of water have been documented for hundreds of years. Even just gazing out at the water has been shown to have immense benefits. If you operate a water activity, how do you capitalize on this?
If you don’t operate a water activity, I invite you to consider this question as well. What is it about your natural setting that fulfills people? The mountains & wilderness have their own appeal, so do cities and small towns. Just because small towns are not as popular as beaches, doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of travelers out there that are seeking them out.
The better you can become at leaning into your environment’s natural offerings, the better you will attract the travelers that need what your environment has to offer.
When asked “which cultural attraction in a travel advertisement would most likely influence you to learn more or book a visit?” history was the #1 response, with people wanting to see statues, monuments, and government buildings.
It’s not surprising that people would feel a pull towards a destination based on an iconic historic monument. When you think Paris, you think of the Eiffel tower. These cultural symbols have been so ingrained in our upbringing through stories and media, they have a very strong influence on people when they see them.
History is also how we become closer to a destination. The more stories we engage with from a destination’s past, the more we understand why it is the way it is today. It gives us a cultural context that creates a strong emotional bond to the destination.
What can you do to integrate history deeper into your tour & activity? Sharing stories is a great place to start. We already know that travelers expect to learn something new, so tying history into this can be a great way to address both of these important traveler motivators.
74% of respondents said natural features unique to a place are what they seek out when it comes to experiences. This means that people want opportunities to do things that they can’t do at home.
So, what can you offer visitors that plays up your uniqueness? Are there certain aspects of your culture that you can integrate into your tour that they guests would never get to experience in their everyday life?
A great exercise for this is to make a list of everything that is unique about your destination and culture. This isn’t always easy if you’ve lived in your destination for a long time, as we all have a tendency to be jaded about where we live. If you need help getting started, put your tourist hat on and read some magazine articles and guidebooks about your destination. The more you can see your destination from an outsider’s perspective, the easier it will become to see the unique aspects of it.