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The ‘checklist’ trip is dead. Long live enriched travel.
Many travel companies are speaking about ‘enriching travel’ nowadays and maximizing experiences while traveling has been one of the most wide-spread trends of 2022 within the industry.
But what does that mean for advisors? How can you ensure that you’re not only selling your clients their perfect trip, but one that is enriched with experiences that bring new meaning, or new perspectives to their outlook on how they travel?
It’s a tall ask for anyone – but many advisors are finding that this question is being asked more and more by their clients as travellers seek different methods of experiencing the world than before.
Luckily, we’re here to provide you with some inspiration for how exactly you can enrich your customers’ experiences before they even set off.
What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Enriching’ Travel?
In the context of this article, when we say ‘enriching travel’, we refer to how advisors can enrich the travel experiences of their customers by offering certain types of trips, rather than how travel can enrich someone's lived experiences.
This is especially important when you consider that millennial travellers, who are on track to represent 50% of all travellers by 2025, are more and more drawn to:
• Slow travel
• Transformative experiences that ‘focus on helping others as well as healing oneself’
• Authentic experiences – including more once-in-a-lifetime trips
• Immersive trips that make them ‘feel like a local’
• Chances to discover hidden gems off the beaten track And while the act of ‘enriching’ a customers’ trip can cover many aspects, from enhancing their actual booking experience with you as their travel advisor, in this aspect we’ll be talking about how to make the nature of their trip more enriching and why it’s more important than ever that you do so.
Is There An Overlap Between ‘Enriched’ Travel And Sustainability?
You might be wondering what can be classed as an ‘enriching’ experience and how this is different to any of the other travel trends out there.
‘Enriched’ travel can simply be thought of as travel that imparts something positive to the traveller or positively impacts the culture/community of their location of choice.
In this sense, enriching your customers’ trips lends itself to sustainable travel, or sustainable experiences because it aligns in a similar way to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s definition of sustainable travel as being ‘tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts’ whilst fulfilling the ‘needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.’
And when travellers themselves speak about enriching travel – this time, as in the experiences that make travel feel meaningful and unique – it is often the types of experience that are aligned with sustainable, mindful travel such as:
• Tourism that ‘gives back’ to local communities
• Immersive experiences – whether this is being immersed in local culture or the landscape itself
• Regenerative tourism – where a destination’s local community benefits from tourism, whether economically or socially
• Eco-friendly/sustainable tourism
So when considering how you can enrich your customers’ trips, offering sustainably focused experiences to travellers who are either looking to minimize their footprint on their destination of choice, or to enhance the positive impact of their presence on the local communities, is something you can take into account.
Considering that a research study found that 53% (of travellers) are more determined to make sustainable travel choices, it is possible that this is reflected in your own clientele. Working in the travel industry is all about keeping up with movements, booking trends and most importantly, ensuring you’re offering the options and services that customers are looking for. But reducing the negative impact of travel on the environment isn’t just a trend, it’s a necessity.
Key Experiences That Can Enrich Your Clients’ Trip
However, while going green is a great way of fulfilling this desire for enriching travel, it’s not the only way to provide meaningful experiences for your clients! There are many avenues which could provide the perfect mental or physical escape for your client, and this all depends on how you navigate their consultation.
But we’re here to offer a little inspiration, to kick things off:
Of course, one of the easiest ways to enrich your customers’ travel experiences in a way that reduces their impact on the environment in their destination of choice, is by ensuring that their accommodation is sustainable and eco-friendly. And for 2023, an anticipated 78% of global travellers will stay in a sustainable property at least once.
Many of the hotels that are at the forefront of the travel industry are making leaps towards going carbon neutral, and a growing number are focused on sustainability at their core such as the San Bada in Costa Rica, the Virgin Hotels Chicago which is also renowned for its green housekeeping, recycling schemes and guest-powered carbon offset programs despite being in the heart of downtown Chicago! And also the Bardessono, one of only seven LEED Platinum certified hotels in the United States and one of twenty eight worldwide with this coveted green status, nestled in the heart of Californian wine country, Napa Valley.
These developments indicate that the way is being paved for sustainability to become the new normal, which means that if you want to ensure you’re at the front of your customers’ minds, you need to be offering them eco-friendly options during consultations.
Finding Green Hotels
Of course, this all depends on your portfolio.
This is where working with a booking partner like Bedsonline comes into its own. Not only are we, as part of the Hotelbeds corporation, certified carbon neutral by Carbon Footprint Ltd for the third year running, but we’re an active member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and have more than 15,000 hotels listed as sustainable in our portfolio.
Luckily, our Booking Engine makes it simpler than ever to search for green hotels to suit your clients’ needs in trending destinations worldwide. Search for ‘Green Hotels’ using the filter in our Booking Engine to instantly refine your search to hotels dedicated to sustainable and eco-friendly opportunities.
Centred around the idea that visitors are to have a positive impact on their holiday destination, in that ‘they leave it in a better condition than how they found it’, regenerative tourism has received a lot of attention in both the research fields and the consumer landscape within the last few years.
It has been described as going further than sustainable tourism, in that the goal is for tourism to actively restore and regenerate the environment, which then results in a ‘positive cycle of impacts’ for local economies and communities.
Real Life Example: The brand Regenerative Travel, founded in 2019, enables travellers, destinations, and industry professionals to combine efforts in order to reduce the negative impacts of tourism. Using a membership format, users are provided with informative content, tour guides and activities dedicated to ‘regenerative work’, as well as guidance on how to engage in this sort of tourism.
As with many avenues of tourism, ‘give-back’ tourism can be identified as many different things. It could be volunteerism, or could simply mean that travellers are socially responsible with their choices during their visit.
Give-back tourism might look like an immersive, hands-on experience where travellers are physically carrying out actions that positively impact a community in some way, or it might look like choosing to spend with locally owned companies only to boost the economy.
Real Life Example: the ‘Hand Back of Daintree’ is a key example of a true ‘give back’ scheme which has benefitted both tourists and local communities. It is a movement that replaced the harmful, intrusive types of tourist activities (such as motor sports) that would damage the historical site of Daintree, Australia, into experiences where visitors are guided through the area with a custodian and are introduced to the natural wildlife and history of the location. It truly ‘handed back’ the benefits of tourism to the local communities.
How Can You Offer Authentic Experiences?
Again, this is where having the right booking partner can be instrumental in providing meaningful, and truly impactful opportunities for travellers.
Working with us at Bedsonline, for example, gives you access to on the ground experts in 200+ countries worldwide, as well as exclusive hotels, tour operators and other ancillaries which are all designed to give your clients what they want.
What does this mean? Our portfolio is packed with tours and experiences designed to provide real, authentic opportunities for your clients to engage with the cultures and people of their destination of choice! Our sourcing teams find those meaningful experiences, and we have the pleasure of offering them to you as advisors.
Encouraging tours that engage with the local community in your client’s destination of choice is always a great place to start. For example, experiencing an authentic sevu-sevu (welcome) to village life in Viti Levu, Fiji; dining with a local family in Amman, Jordan, or supporting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka.
Register now to make the most of our global portfolio and connections.
Encourage Travelers To Engage With Local Cultures
A recent study by Expedia Group Travel Index suggests that 51% of travellers want to learn about other cultures and communities through their trips, and highlights that as travel advisors you’re perfectly poised to offer bespoke and unique experiences that travellers might otherwise not be able to book for themselves.
The roots of sustainable tourism and sustainable experiences are in their positive impact for the local economy in the destination of your customers’ choice. One of the best ways to enrich their experience of a place is to encourage your customers to spend their money in locally run and owned businesses in the area.
Real Life Example: Detours from the Duke University Press is an example of taking the idea of engaging with the local culture one step further. A destination guide unlike many of its counterparts in the industry, Detours provides prospective visitors with a whole host of essays and letters by locals, artwork, maps and even tour itineraries from local contributors, all with the aim of changing the way that travellers visit, engage with and view their locations of choice.
Real Life Example #2: Locally owned indigenous companies are being pushed to the forefront of the Canadian tourism industry by The Indigenous Association of Canadian Tourism, in order to boost indigenous representation in the travel industry, but also to align with the documented movement of travellers seeking authentic experiences supported and facilitated by the people who know each destination best.
In some senses, community-based tourism is also similar to immersive tourism, in that it is providing opportunities for visitors to go beyond the surface level of a destination; to get to the heart of what it means to live there as a local and experience a greater sense of authenticity within their travels.
An American Express poll in 2021 found that 72% of travellers want to boost local economies, and the 2022 Sustainability Travel Report from Booking.com suggests that 66% of people want to have ‘authentic experiences which are more representative of the local culture.’
Of course, when traveling, this becomes more variable, with many more opportunities to spend locally and many travellers not necessarily being equipped with the knowledge of where their dollars are going. For something to be classed as authentically community-based, it needs to be ‘owned, led and run by the communities themselves’, suggests CEO of Planterra, Jamie Sweeting – a non-profit partner of G Adventures which focuses on community tourism.
Real Life Example: Dehouce is a great example of a recent addition to the immersive, community-based tourism movement. The first of its kind in Brazil, Dehouce is a trip operator that allows travellers to experience authentic village life deep in the Amazon rainforest. It manages to avoid the more problematic avenues of luxury experience tourism which offers commercialized replicas of tradition – Dehouce works closely with local communities to design and approve itineraries and pricing, ensuring that these communities are at the forefront of the whole project.
So there you have it! While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, we hope that it’s a good kick-starter for how you might be able to offer more enriched travel to your customers.
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