Recommend.com, Paloma Villaverde de Rico, July 16th, 2014
When I asked Mark C. Morello, CEO of brite spokes, why unique and off-the-wall experiences are becoming more and more popular with travelers (brite spokes, incidentally, offers a rally car driving experience that you can read about on page 28 as part of the 5 Active Trips in the States feature), I didn’t expect his response to be so on point with what I heard expressed again and again at the two consortia conferences I attended last month, American Marketing Group’s TRAVELMARKET 2014 and the Vacation.com conference: travelers are no longer happy going on a beach vacation and sipping a margarita by the pool; they want to EXPERIENCE a destination. Morello says it best: “Modern travelers are inspired by the substantial amount of information they are exposed to via the media—social, television, editorial, etc. Their media exposure and relatedly, their ability to easily research travel destinations and activities, have made them hyper-aware of other travelers’ unique, personal adventures, experiences that set them apart, interests that bond them with a group of people and challenges that they never knew they would be proud to conquer. Travel expectations are higher because knowledge is greater. People want to get the most out of everything they do and add to their own story.”
Stomping grapes at Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos.
And you can find lots of recommendations to add to your clients’ stories in the pages of thisActive & Experiential Travel Issue, where we’ve got wellness, culinary, adventurous, the exotic and trekking covered across the globe. Take my own experience in Puerto Vallarta, which is featured on page 45. The beauty of the destination blew me away, but the array of activities for clients to choose from—whether it be cultural, adrenalin-driven or gastro-focused—is unbelievable. Ziplining, ATV tours, horseback riding, rappelling, flyboarding, kayaking, tequila tasting, nature exploration…the list is infinite. A bit farther south, Latin America editor Carla Hunt explores Argentina and Uruguay (page 36), and recommends four tour operators that get into the heart of these countries. As Jim Kane, owner of Culture Xplorers, says, “We craft culturally immersive journeys…that deepen understanding and foster connection between travelers and the local communities.” Speaking of getting up-close with the locals, in Rwanda and Uganda, your clients who’ve done the traditional safari trip can go gorilla trekking (page 42). Kim Severini, v.p., sales & marketing,African Travel, Inc., describes her recent trip to the area, saying, “the most amazing WOW of both destinations was how close you actually got to these amazing creatures. I always thought that the photos featured in our brochures and website were with super lenses. Not so.”
And if you think the Caribbean is indeed all about sipping a piña colada beachside, think again. Caribbean editor Ed Wetschler has outlined a cornucopia of immersive activities that will have your clients returning from Guadeloupe, Jamaica and the USVI with a different mindset. For example, “Jake’s in Jamaica,” Wetschler points out, “is for cultural tourists, clients who want to bend elbows or bend it like Beckham with Jamaicans.”