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Pre-experience or adventure? Why there’s still a quasi-Indiana Jones option

Liam Loan-Lack
Liam Loan-Lack (former) Account Director

Last week I stumbled on a study conducted by Expedia worryingly titled, ‘Vacation Deprivation’. Essentially, it highlighted how 1) less of us take our holiday allowance due to work pressures and 2) how the UK working population is sitting pretty compared to the US – on average, workers this side of the pond enjoy 11 more days holiday per annum.

Still, with only a few days off every year, it makes perfect sense to plan each detail of your time abroad carefully. Consumer review sites like ‘Trip Advisor’ are now so pervasive that in theory at least, all unwanted surprises on your golden two weeks can be avoided. Surely this is testament to the consumer being firmly at the centre of the holiday booking process?

My answer is ‘Yes and No’.

Yes, because, now you can ‘pre-experience’ almost every aspect of your holiday in detail.

‘No,’ because the rise of the peer economy signifies the death knell for old-fashioned adventure. Google has mapped 50+ countries and is present in all seven continents – this can only increase as internet penetration extends to remoter locations.

However, it seems that some consumers are hitting back at this trend. For one, the rise in popularity of sites like AirBnB and boutique hotels such as W could be seen as a testament to the need for something different from the usual cut and dry hotel chains. At the extreme end of this current against excessive holiday planning is a travel site that offers you a discount of up to 40% if you allow it to choose the destination of your holiday between the two options you input.

So, what is the significance for travel marketing?

1. Manage adventure.

No-one is ever going to buy a holiday without some research online. Thus, a cautious approach to curating adventure within a broadly pre-known package is probably the best method. This could be as simple as seasonal variations in menu choices on airlines.

2. Remember that some people hate surprises.

According to Euromonitor, 50% of UK travel retail value is classified as a package holiday. Moreover, this engrained preference for an all-in-one, “I know what I will get” option shows no sign of faltering. In truth, the idea of unplanned discovery may only appeal to a more upmarket AB audience who, according to TGI, do not opt for the package option and have the money (and time) to try new, less travelled destinations and experiences.

3. Therefore, long-haul passengers may be more receptive to unplanned discovery.

As long haul is increasingly the preserve of the very wealthy, it would be prudent to tap into, for example, frequent flyer programmes to gauge the mood around managed moments of discovery and whether it makes commercial sense to offer elements of surprise within limits set by the traveller.