Experiential travel takes off

It used to be most tourists were content to take pictures of the top 10 sights, lay on a beach and do a little shopping. But increasingly, a lot of travelers, especially those with some money to spend, are seeking out something a bit more exciting and out of the ordinary – in other words, an experience.

Experiential travel is taking off. In fact, since 2014, the amount spent on tours, activities and attractions has grown 21% to US$159 billion a year – on adventures like mountain biking, glacier hiking, scuba diving, cooking, painting, textile weaving and more. Websites like Airbnb, once just for booking apartments, have branched off into this lucrative market and offer connections to a variety of local travel experiences.

And what kinds of experiences are on the rise? According the Skift, a news and research company specializing in the travel industry, there are five big ways travelers are getting the most out of their trips:

Culinary travel: Blame it on Instagram but many of us have become all-out foodies, whether we’re at home or traveling, and are just ask likely to post a beautiful pic of dinner as a selfie. Adventurous eaters who travel are seeking out activities like wine tasting (and stomping) in Italy or discovering the best tacos in Mexico City.

Authenticity: The days of rolling around in an open air tour bus getting a canned speech of a city’s sites are over. Today’s experiential travelers want insider tours where they can discover local culture and people. An increasing number of websites and travel agencies offer off-the-beaten path tours that offer a glimpse of what locals love.

Mobile adventures: From Google Maps to universal translators, our smartphones have made travel infinitely easier and less stressful. Now, new augmented reality and virtual reality technologies enable travelers to immerse themselves in locales even before their plane lands – as well as supplement walking tours with input from local experts.

Are you planning an exciting experiential tour – or did you just get back from one? We want to hear all about it! Share your adventures in the Shop Talk blog community forum.

Did you know? Business and pleasure

More than 60% of business trips were extended to include leisure time in 2017, up 40% in one year. (Source)

40 thoughts on “Experiential travel takes off

  1. I am one for adventure so I have to go backpacking, scuba diving, skydiving anything that freaks the s*** out of me. Haven’t been on any adventures lately but I want to be very soon.

  2. i have found that some of the best experiences can be found within your own state. i live in Ohio and have had several great trips just traveling around the state and finding all of those out of the way places that are not advertised and just see what they have to offer. there are many places that offer factory tours or other simple things to do that even the kids would like. finding an Amish community is always a real treat. they live a whole different lifestyle than the rest of us do and it is fascinating to see how well they live with so little compared to us. besides that, they are really great cooks so you need to try out their restaurants. good food at good prices and large portions. their baked goods are to die for..

  3. One of my jobs as a weekend juggler is Renaissance Faires. Talk about Experiential Travel! You get jousting knights, mounted archers, royalty, music, dancing, comedy jugglers to entertain you and teach you history of juggling props and maybe toilets, all sorts of artisans, merchants and weapon makers, and food!

  4. I’m not planning any overseas trips in the near future. I would probably be the traditional tourist who was happy to site see and try a little of the local food.

  5. We are vacationing in DC this upcoming year and just indulge in American History so its all about Authenticity this time!

  6. As much as I love nature and natural areas preservation, I admit that I’m a little conservative when it comes to wild adventures.
    I enjoy to watch people participate in such adventures and admire their strength and abilities.
    I look forward into witnessing an outdoor activity with an expert.
    Rikki… Keep it up! Thumbs up!

  7. I think experiential is sometimes akin to suicidal when attempting to perform risky actions like paid experts do.

  8. So many different experiences these days. I wish I had the time and funds. Would love to head to Montana to a working ranch vacation.

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