Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further, says Booking.com. Almost two thirds of travellers (60 percent) value experiences higher than material possessions, now which will mean 2019 will see travellers packing in many different and authentic experiences. From where you eat and sleep to how you shop, there will be more of a focus on comfort and happiness, than materialistic opportunities.
However, travelling is rooted in our deep desire to create memorable experiences. We travel to different corners of the world to experience new cultures, discover new places and meet new people. As a destination marketer you should focus on developing a unique positioning to highlight top experiences within your destination and capture travellers’ attention by catering to one of their emotional needs.
The idea is to create a strong bond between potential travellers and your destination. You can do this by immersing them in fun and memorable experiences before they even reach your shores. As lot of people don’t know much about the cultures of other countries, your focus should be on educating them in a fun and engaging way while trying to evoke genuine positive emotions within them.
The concept of experience economy was formulated by Pine and Gilmore (1998) who advocated that providing special experiences and unforgettable memories are the key to competitiveness. Experiential marketing recognizes that consumer interest is not restricted to purely functional benefits, but to the consumption of a total experience (Leighton, 2007).
In the digital space, it’s all about genuine storytelling and choosing the right digital communication channels and tools.
Here are some tips:
1. Use various digital channels and platforms to truly connect with travelers and create an immersive experience. Make use of your website, apps, social media platform to spread your message.
After the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, Iceland was facing a national crisis but they managed to turn it around by changing the narrative. They launched the Inspired by Iceland website and some great campaigns that have been a joy to interact with. The results? 60 million web hits, 22.5 million stories, 138.7 million pounds extra tourism revenue.
2. Showcase travelling experiences that only you can provide by creatively using videos and images
The #SheepWithAView campaign’s goals were to inspire people to visit Norway, explore more of the country and exercise their “right to roam”. Taking advantage of their annual tradition of releasing millions of sheep to roam freely and venture through open country, cameras were strapped to four sheep with unique personalities. Their “job” was to take the online audiences along on their individual journeys. The film crews produced short videos of each sheep’s cross-country adventures weaving together a story about each Norwegian region. The videos reached over six million people and even inspired other Tourist Boards to get in on the action too.
3. Use creative content to give travellers a preview of your tours and activities. Make it interactive so you evoke the right feeling.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Transylvania?
From mystical places and legends to breathtaking scenery and medieval citadels, Harghita’s got all that and more. To help visitors plan their trip and discover hidden gems before they even reach their destination, Harghita County Council decided to create an immersive experience for their visitors and bring their local legends to life. By downloading an app, visitors can plan their itinerary using storytelling and over 50 authentic legends of lost treasures, valiant kings, knights and maidens.
To create their unique travel itinerary, visitors can browse through the list of legends, pick their favorite, get directions and visit the local attraction they find interesting.
4. Create fun experiences
According to the New Mexico Tourism Department, its residents are more likely to vacation out of state compared to residents in neighboring states. To promote holidays in New Mexico to residents of the state, the department created the “Catch the Kid” campaign that challenged residents to take part in a summer-long scavenger hunt to find the legendary Billy the Kid and win $10,000. Travellers could use a website and app to gather clues about the whereabouts of Billy the Kid. Throughout their hunt they would receive new clues as well as prizes, such as lodging or meal packages to keep the scavenger hunt exciting.