From experiences to sensations, this is how tourism evolves
When reflecting on tourism and the new trends that have emerged after the pandemic, some questions have arisen that I hope will help me discern: What is the new traveler really looking for? What motivates a traveler to choose a place to vacation among a huge list of tourist destinations? We could say that they are looking for good beaches, good hotels, fabulous landscapes or gastronomy, but those are attributes that countless destinations have. So why do you choose one place over another? From my professional point of view, I can affirm that the reasons are varied, although there are three common themes: relax, disconnect and live unique experiences, especially the latter.
In this sense, the very concept of traveling has undergone a change in the last three years, because people no longer only travel to learn, but to have experiences. In other words, tourism is not done “to see”, but “to do”.
This is reaffirmed in a recent report by Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which indicates that tourist spending on experiences has increased this year by 34% above 2019 levels, with an upward trend. And the demand for experiences is such that a new segment has even emerged, experiential tourism, defined by Carlos Sánchez –author of the book “The 5 steps of Experiential Tourism” – as “A satisfactory experience that is achieved when the individual attributes meaning to what do during your trip. In short, these experiences must be unique to be worth remembering and telling.
However, even the term “experience tourism” is falling behind, at least in the high-end sector, giving way to “sensation tourism” or “emotion tourism”. And what is all this about? Well, it is nothing more than “connecting” with people, not forgetting “human treatment”, beyond offering a luxurious, perfect and exclusive hotel. Simply put, the difference in hotels and any other tourism business will be made by the staff, not the building.
Given this, tourism destinations and companies have a great opportunity to design products that connect with travelers in a sentimental and emotional way, building environments that provide comfort and safety.
And this is where I return to my initial question: What motivates the traveler to choose one destination over another? From the outset, it may be the price, the proximity, the air connectivity, the good marketing of the tourist attractions, factors that, without a doubt, help to “sell” the destination, but it will be the authentic experiences through sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell –whether when making a hotel reservation, when staying, when trying a dish, or visiting a traditional village– that will possibly leave a lifelong mark on people and motivate them to return.
We must remember that people may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
What do you think? I read them.