Hospitality is becoming more experiential than transactional
Being one and united is a world-view that is embodied by today’s new age travelers who have turned them into experience seekers. They are now looking to engage with all cultural aspects of society such as food, clothing, language, customs, marketplaces, bio-diversity, and natural wonders amongst others.
Global trends suggest travelers are open to unique and immersive experiences with local people and cultures across the world. The popularity of experiential travel destinations is increasing in comparison to traditional vacation destinations. The youth is travelling to exotic destinations and are ensuring that they stay an extra few days to submerge themselves in the local culture and experience something new.
Last year, experience-based travel gained momentum. The Indian market is throwing a lot of opportunities as travelers are getting matured. Furthermore, for millennials seeking a life of adventure and spontaneity, quality experience is everything and they are always on the lookout for experiences that keep them happy and satisfied. A villa/hotel/lodge/B&B is more than just the gateway to the traveller’s destination. It is the route to its surroundings and the local experience that is prized by today’s traveller.
Little-known tourist destinations and home-stays have become popular and are eminently accessible as a result of flight and road transport options that can be accessed round the clock. All these have given rise to bespoke tourism that can include eco-tourism, educational tourism and even rural tourism. This generation is prioritising their cars and homes less and putting a greater importance to personal experiences and showing it off to the world. 90% millennials use smartphones and 93% of them have access to the internet. A third of millennials say that posting pictures on social media is as important as the holiday they are on itself.
While young travelers now want to participate in new experiences, such as back-packing, volunteer tourism and working abroad, social media posts and travel blogs influence the choices of audiences who follow these posts. Additionally, today’s employees too are travelling to exotic destinations for work and staying an extra few days to submerge themselves in the local culture and experience something new. According to a report by the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association), 48% of surveyed millennials stayed back for several days after fulfilling work commitments. Understandable. It would be a crime not to unwind on a beach or explore an unknown city’s foodscape after that important conference. Not to mention a wasted opportunity to spice up your Instagram feed or update your Facebook profile picture.
With this generation choosing to live life differently, their perception of value extends beyond the traditional. Things no longer matter, but fulfilling experiences do. 78% millennials choose to spend money on a desirable experience over a physical purchase.
There was a time when the luxury hospitality experience was synonymous with checking into a grand property, embedded technology in a well-appointed room, and chilling in the pool or the spa with some good food and beverages for company. But now something as simple as replacing legacy technology with cloud-based system will enable the hotel sector to transition from a transactional to an experiential relationship with its customers. Lastly, I strongly believe that this generation is seeking a life of adventure and spontaneity, quality experience is everything for them and they are always on the lookout for experiences that keep them happy and satisfied. The industry too must evolve as a whole to be able to serve this new age Indian customer in a better way.