The Rise of Experience Tourism and What It Means for the Leisure Industry

travel audience

Your job in the travel and tourism industry is to help people travel to a far-off destination, enjoy that place for a few days, and then get back home, right? Not anymore. Now, you are providing a life-enhancing experience known as experience tourism – and the better the experience, the better you stand out from the horde of similar businesses. For your customers, it’s called experiential purchasing.


What Is Experiential Purchasing?

Experiential purchasing, whether a new kitchen floor or a trip to an exotic destination, is about a lot more than merely buying goods or services. Experiential purchases differ from material purchases in both objective and results. “[E]xperiential purchases serve the purpose of acquiring a life experience while material purchases serve the purpose of acquiring an object. Research has demonstrated that experiential purchases are associated with more happiness than material purchases.”

Really, the fact is nothing new, but the awareness and marketing of it in some areas are. This shift can be attributed to a wider affluence and the greater interconnectedness of our digital era. (But if you recall older ads for cars, clothes, and perfumes, you’ll see that some agencies have been on top of this phenomenon for a long time.) Just consider that kitchen floor.

When you have a new kitchen floor installed, you are not simply purchasing 253 brand-new, shiny floor tiles and their installation. You are, rather, interested in the benefits and the experience it provides. You have, for example, a beautiful new kitchen that makes you feel good every morning when you go in to fix breakfast, and you have a kitchen you are now proud to show off to family and friends. Basically, it makes your life better.

And it’s much the same with experience tourism.


The Rise of Experience Tourism

In 2015, spending on leisure travel and tourism “accounted for 76.6% of total global travel and tourism” and is expected to grow “more quickly than business travel spending over the next 10 years.” In addition, “the compound annual growth rate for the leisure segment is projected to grow at 4.2% compared to a 3.7% compound annual rate for the business travel segment.” Although factors such as greater disposable income and easier credit access have contributed to this growth, “the experiential consumer trend is a key factor.’’

For the majority of leisure travelers now, it’s all about the journey, not only the destination. Travelers want to connect with a place on an emotional level, and, as a result, it becomes much more than settling for a busy trip packed with a full itinerary in all the touristy hot spots. “For many, travel is seen as a way of understanding and appreciating alternative ways of life, learning new things about cultural and natural landscapes, and even as a means of self-discovery.”

Experience tourism is becoming the norm because consumers would rather spend their money on experiences and not on things. The emphasis now is on “seeking out activities that appeal to niche personal interests” rather than on “checking must-see sites and monuments off the to-do list.”


The Take-Away

Booking and travel agencies today simply must offer more than a product. They must offer and promote life-enriching experiences –language lessons and cooking classes, riding the rapids, trekking to remote locations, swimming with sharks. The travel industry is evolving to meet and capitalize on this experiential purchasing trend, known as experience tourism. At Regiondo, a premier provider of booking software, we can provide the experiential travel booking options that are so vital to success today.


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