September 18, 2014 • By Joe Haydn
It happens every day. Bill and Britney, a couple in their 20s, decide to take their first vacation together. Britney opens her laptop and starts searching while Bill takes to his tablet to see what he can find.
Forget Mickey Mouse ears and mini-Eiffel Tower key chains, they plan to return home with a new understanding and appreciation of life!Instead of going back to places they’ve already been… they seek unique, authentic new experiences. They want pictures for their Facebook accounts. They want real interaction with local culture. Forget Mickey Mouse ears and mini-Eiffel Tower key chains, they plan to return home with a new understanding and appreciation of life! And they’re not alone. While the millennial generation seems to be driving the experience trend, it has also swept up the older, more affluent segments of the population as well. According to a study commissioned by American Express last year, 72% of respondents said they choose to spend money on experience over things. While an impressive study from Resonance Consulting stated it eloquently: “…. experience is the thing and stories are clearly winning over stuff…. That’s good news for highly differentiated destinations and experience purveyors and curators of many kinds.” As a hotel marketer, you must ask yourself if your marketing truly grabs the attention of the experience-craving traveler? If not, we have some tips to help you create traction with this key market dynamic:
1. Take Inventory of the Unique Experiences All Around YouYour first instinct may be to lament the vast distance between your hotel and any famous landmark, but don’t. This can actually work to your advantage. Remember, Bill and Britney want a unique, authentic experience. Everyone goes to the Grand Canyon. But your region has quirky events they’ve never heard of (we’re looking at you Gilroy Garlic Festival)! Start by making a list. Think of the off-the-beaten path places you and your staff take out of town guests. What do you recommend guests do? Are there food or bike tours in your area? An oddball museum? Unexpected historic landmarks?
2. Integrate with Your Local Community
Are you taking advantage of the experience seeking market?Now that you have some ideas, it is time to go out and make them work for you. Partner with local tour guides and ambassadors for cross-promotional deals. Create packages around your areas unique experiences. Showcase your regional ambassadors doing what they love. Let Bill and Britney know you understand what they want out of their vacation. One hotel in Berlin actually includes a unique local experience with every stay… enabling guests to choose (at time of booking) whether they want a guide to take them to the museum or a local foodie to accompany them on a street food sampling tour.