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 travellers, 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 travellers 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 travelling, 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 travellers 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 travellers 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)

17 thoughts on “Experiential travel takes off

  1. I have always been an experiential traveller; when I go to another Country or even City, we like to immerse ourselves in discovering the ways of life that form the culture and vibe of the location, food, environment, music, entertainment and spiritual life.

  2. Thanks for the email—just travelled to Niagara Falls and this birthday turned out great and enjoyable!
    Is there a specific Experiential travel company or website? C. Shaw

  3. I prefer to travel on a small cruise ship. You get into ports the large ships cannot enter and get to see the place in a more natural state. You are “well looked after” while on board and land tours / sight seeing is at your leisure. Being a “senior” I find this the absolute best way to travel to many places in the world.

  4. drove to Baja Mexico for 2 months, rented a furnished house,, got completely immersed in the culture, food, language, ran our business by computer and cell phone back here in Canada. It is very safe provided you follow a few rules. Stay on main highways, never travel at night, stay in better quality hotels and neighbourhoods, do not flaunt your wealth, jewelery, etc, get to know your neighbours. Remember you are a guest. Be nice!

  5. Not having the option to travel far we’ve gone on the hunt for water falls around the province of Nova Scotia . You get to go for a drive to places you’ve never been , which leads to a hike onto old roads n trails , along Rivers , Brooks n streams , through the forests n your reward is always just around the next corner ..

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