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
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