ME buoy­ant about ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel

Ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel is grow­ing sig­nif­i­cantly and is fast be­com­ing a global trend. The of­fi­cial show theme for ATM 2017 is ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel and sem­i­nars held at the event will be with a fo­cus on this theme, and on sell­ing lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences. speaks to in

TravTalk - Middle East - - QUICKBYTES - SHEHARA RIZLY

Defined as a form of tourism in which trav­ellers fo­cus on ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a coun­try, city or a par­tic­u­lar place by con­nect­ing to its his­tory, peo­ple and cul­ture, ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel is grow­ing sig­nif­i­cantly. The real task for tour op­er­a­tors, travel agents and hos­pi­tal­ity stake­hold­ers is to un­der­stand how a travel ex­pe­ri­ence can truly change a trav­eller’s view­point and pro­vide them with a new, unique, and au­then­tic way to un­der­stand the world. De­vel­op­ing new com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies is very im­por­tant to be able to en­gage in these types of cus­tomers who are tech savvy and mo­bile. Mil­len­ni­als or the smart­phone gen­er­a­tion (76 per cent of them own smart­phones glob­ally) are of­ten as­so­ci­ated with ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel. Yet, ac­cord­ing to Trip-Barom­e­ter, 2015, 69 per cent of global trav­ellers – of all age groups – planned to try some­thing new in 2016. Slowly and steadily the older gen­er­a­tion is seek­ing ex­pe­ri­ences be­yond the re­lax­ing ‘bed and beach’ hol­i­day.

In­dus­try lead­ers are say­ing that ‘trans­for­ma­tional travel’ is the next evo­lu­tion. It has sim­i­lar el­e­ments of ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel, but taken a step fur­ther—it’s travel mo­ti­vated and defined by a shift in self-re­flec­tion and devel­op­ment. With that said, Fair­mont The Palm’s motto “Be. Your. Best”, is a prom­ise made by Fair­mont to in­spire their guests to trans­form them­selves through a pro­gramme of healthy liv­ing and well­be­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The re­sort has sig­nif­i­cantly boosted ini­tia­tives around this ethos, from din­ing and nu­tri­tion to health, fit­ness and re­lax­ation to add value to the guest ex­pe­ri­ence and lo­cal com­mu­nity. Fair­mont The Palm fully sup­ports health and well­be­ing for our guests and col­leagues alike, and we are proud to be bring­ing break­through ex­pe­ri­ences, spe­cialised ex­perts and the lat­est in in­ter­na­tional trends to the Mid­dle East mar­ket – plac­ing us firmly as in­no­va­tors in the re­gion.

These days, tourism has be­come com­modi­tised. To­day’s tourist wants more from a city than just vis­it­ing lo­cal at­trac­tions and land­marks. They’re look­ing for ways to en­gage with the lo­cal cul­ture and peo­ple. They sim­ply want to feel like lo­cals when they’re trav­el­ling. A big part of this is keep­ing the guest con­nected at all times, and pro­vid­ing them with cu­rated travel rec­om­men­da­tions at their fin­ger­tips. This is the core of our com­pany’s vi­sion. Ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel is the fastest grow­ing trend in tourism across the globe and the in­dus­try as a whole is em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy like never be­fore. Ac­ces­si­bil­ity and speed are crit­i­cal to the de­mands of to­day’s tech-savvy trav­ellers who are gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with this type of ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel.

When trav­ellers visit new and ad­ven­tur­ous des­ti­na­tions – or even more fa­mil­iar ones – they are look­ing for a to­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, not just a bed­room for the night. At Wyn­d­ham, we are proud to of­fer our guests a taste of lo­cal cul­ture and cus­tom around the world through a com­bi­na­tion of our trusted brand name with lo­cal flair and ex­per­tise. Our rev­o­lu­tion­ary guest loy­alty pro­gramme now also al­lows our guests to ex­pe­ri­ence a taste of the lo­cal des­ti­na­tion through Mem­ber Lev­els. Wyn­d­ham Re­wards mem­bers can book onto spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ences when re­deem­ing free nights, tak­ing ad­van­tage of var­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ences rang­ing from an au­then­tic cook­ing class in Shang­hai to a desert sa­fari in Dubai, without us­ing any ad­di­tional points.

North Island, Sey­chelles will be par­tic­i­pat­ing at ILTM Ara­bia which is co-lo­cat­ing with ATM this year. Our aim is to push North Island as a unique lux­ury des­ti­na­tion and raise our pro­file in the GCC mar­ket, es­pe­cially the UAE. We have in­creased our sole-hire busi­ness from this mar­ket and this clien­tele is both dis­cern­ing and de­mand­ing par­tic­u­larly when it comes to well­ness and ex­pe­ri­en­tial of­fer­ings, which we are find­ing to be global trends. Our all-in­clu­sive sole-hire rate in­cludes all ac­tiv­i­ties and din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences from scuba div­ing cour­ses, snorkelling, sea kayak­ing, surf­ing, body­board­ing, standup pad­dle board­ing, and sun­set cruises to our unique and com­pletely cus­tom­iz­a­ble din­ing menus and ex­pe­ri­ences all over the island. This has set us apart for the GCC trav­eller and al­lowed us to stand out in a mar­ket that is at the fore­front of trend­set­ting when it comes to lux­ury travel.

Ex­pe­ri­en­tial tourism is trend­ing glob­ally as more trav­ellers are look­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence more of the city dur­ing their stay. We have even seen a strong in­crease in group travel, specif­i­cally multi­gen­er­a­tional fam­ily groups; as such it is cru­cial for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try to en­rich their of­fer­ings for vis­i­tors of all ages. Trav­el­ling is now more about an im­mer­sive style of tourism, where dif­fer­ent as­pects of lo­cal life such as cul­ture, his­tory, na­ture, well­ness and spas, shop­ping, en­ter­tain­ment, etc., are pre­sented for each in­di­vid­ual. Our ex­clu­sive moun­tain re­treat, JA Hatta Fort Ho­tel has re­cently been re­vamped to of­fer a more mod­ern Arabesque wel­come; JA Mana­faru was re­cently en­tered top 10 ho­tels in the world by TripAd­vi­sor – Trav­ellers’ Choice. The prop­erty brings tra­di­tional cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences com­pli­mented with recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties such as PADI dive cen­tre, wa­ter sports school, and well­ness pav­il­ion.

TThe GCC has be­come one of our top grow­ing mar­kets and we’ve seen an in­crease in trav­ellers from that re­gion, es­pe­cially com­ing through the UAE to Baros Mal­dives. The GCC trav­eller is very dis­cern­ing and we have no­ticed an in­crease in de­mand for unique tai­lor­made ex­pe­ri­ences. Pri­vacy, fine din­ing, and div­ing are amongst our big­gest strengths and we have added to those over the years to sat­isfy this need. Our ‘Fluo Night Dives’ and ‘Div­ing by De­sign’ have been re­ceived very well and are gain­ing more pop­u­lar­ity and we also in­tro­duced a col­lec­tion of new ‘Nooma’ cruises and ex­cur­sions. Our ‘Pri­vate Sand­bank Cin­ema’ where guests can en­joy an ex­clu­sive pri­vate cin­ema screen­ing on a sand­bank in the mid­dle of the Indian Ocean has also been a hit with our GCC guests.

When ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel reached its peak, Sun Siyam Re­sorts in the Mal­dives was of­fer­ing way more than just ex­cur­sions. We hosted cook­ing classes where we in­vited Mal­di­vian ladies from lo­cal is­lands to share and show their se­cret recipes. We had our

‘Pack to make a dif­fer­ence’ pro­gramme, where tourist pre­par­ing for their visit to the Mal­dives could take some ex­tra things to give away to lo­cal kids. And the most pop­u­lar: Giv­ing a les­son about your coun­try to lo­cal kids at schools, while vis­it­ing lo­cal is­lands.

We knew that such ex­pe­ri­ences bond cul­tures and changes our in­ner world for the bet­ter. We didn’t call it trans­for­ma­tive, but with the new term in 2017, we be­lieve to be the ex­perts on it.

Our trav­el­ling groups learn to dance Bodu Beru, some of our in­di­vid­ual guests ask us to drop them on a de­serted island and only pro­vide food and wa­ter sup­ply daily. We guide our guests to feel that they are part of some­thing bet­ter than them­selves. And this is our, Sun Siyam rhythm of trans­for­ma­tion – giv­ing back while en­joy­ing your time trav­el­ling.

Ev­ge­nia Boy­ankova Group Di­rec­tor of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, Sun Siyam Re­sorts

Ig­nace Bauwens Re­gional Vice Pres­i­dent Mid­dle East and Africa at Wyn­d­ham Ho­tel Group

Shanoon Khalid Sales and Mar­ket­ing Man­ager Baros Mal­dives

Bruce Simp­son Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor North Island Ho­tel Sey­chelles

Jean-Pierre Aramouni Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Tink Labs Lim­ited

Freddy Farid Area Gen­eral Man­ager Glo­ria Ho­tels and Re­sorts

David Thom­son Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer JA Re­sorts & Ho­tels

Mark Sawkins Gen­eral Man­ager Fair­mont-The Palm

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