Experiential tourism – The beginning for the future of tourism

The way people are deciding to travel is changing quicker by the day, we are seeing this hobby, that is travelling, becoming more active and less relaxed, this is the phenomenon of experiential tourism. Afar believes in this phenomenon by saying, “The kids are getting out of their day-to-day and enjoying atypical and interactive experiences.”

So, what happens now to the industry of travel as it is clearly changing and moving into this new direction? The big players in the travel business such as Airbnb and Tripadvisor have been smart and swift, to say the least, to recognise this new trend and they have capitalised on it.

Who are the big players in experiential tourism?

Airbnb, as most well experienced travellers will know, offers clients the unique opportunity to not just stay in their destinations of choice but actually in a home or apartment owned by a local. Their range of lodgements differs from single rooms, shared areas (with locals) or, if privacy is a high demand, the whole apartment.

The Airbnb company, that started nearly 10 years ago in August of 2008, made its own unique impact on the whole travel industry by facilitating regular day locals to rent their rooms and houses to travellers. This allowed these backpackers to experience their travel destinations in more authentic ways and feel like a local. From the company’s start in 2008, they have grown to offer as many as almost 5 million lodges in 191 countries with over 300 million people checked in since it began.  

Tripadvisor is another success story for the travel industry, establishing itself as just an area for travellers to give their opinions and reviews on their own experiences to being able to organise their whole travel plan on the site. Barbara Messing, the Chief Marketing Advisor of Tripadvisor, explains during an interview in response to the question of how the company adapts to the ever-changing industry, “As a publicly traded company, we try to embrace that startup mentality while having the benefit of incredible resources and scale at our disposal.” This mentality that Messing states has led the company to having around 2 million hospitality businesses listed in 2014 with more than 100 reviews a minute and claiming the title of being the largest travel website in the world.

How well has experiential tourism worked?

So, what links both of these companies and their success together? One interesting similarity between these two big players in the travel business is that they’ve adapted and not overlooked the importance and relevance of experiential tourism.

A great example of recognising these assets of experiential travel and the demand from travellers to have these experiences is the success of Airbnbs ‘Trips’ initiative, launched in November 2016, which provides tours, activities and experiences in the local area. According to Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, the satisfaction review of trips is significantly higher than that of home reviews, stressing the potential for this new opportunity for OTAs. In an interview with CBS, Chesky says, “People not only want to connect with others, they want to share more than just their home. They want to share great experiences.”

Trip advisor similarly capitalises on experiential tourism by focusing on the reviews of tours and adventures in tourist destinations with their famous “Things to do” sections on their website.

Both companies can see themselves as leaders in this field through understanding the importance of experiences for those who spend their money to travel abroad or in their own country.

Italy as a hotspot for experiential tourism?

No matter what continent, country or city you travel to, there are experiences everywhere, some more hidden than others. However, Italy is a big contender for being the country most saturated with cultural activities on the planet. Tripadvisor’s 2018 Travel Trends Report, listed 2017’s top ten world’s most popular experiences wherein 5 of the 10 experiences listed where based in Italy. This can only be seen as a mouth-watering opportunity for any OTA, even more so those based in Italy, to take advantage of this countries cultural, historical and most importantly experiential assets that it has to offer.

What about Artès?

Being an Incoming Tour Operator in this experientially rich country, Artès can only count their blessings for being based right where these experiences are happening. Artès has already hit the ground running by supporting these experiences, from the Venetian “Carnet de Voyage” that allows tourists to understand the history of Venice through toponymy and how gondolas are made to learning the Tarantella Cilentana dance, an old tradition in the south of Italy. Artès have taken notice of the leaders in their field and they haven’t wasted any time by following this new trend in tourism.


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