In recent years marketing professionals have been pounded with the idea that millennials are reshaping consumer trends. Apparently, the group has been responsible for seemingly everything. From changes in shopping behaviors (online, interactive, mobile!) to dining preference (fast casual, local food, avocado toast!) to creative executions and font preference (sustainable packaging, millennial pink! Futura, Avenir, Gotham!)
Wellness travel has been identified as the next frontier of travel preference. For those unfamiliar with wellness travel, these consumers are identified in two ways, either seeking out a destination that allows for a continued routine of fitness and health or those seeking a destination as a break for the betterment of their personal health.
The Evolution Will Be Televised…
Beyond creating a destination for health or to better one’s health, we are now seeing an underpinning of storytelling that must be woven throughout to truly make it a destination worth visiting. It’s not enough to offer a menu of organic food sandwiched between daily yoga salutations. The next generation of travelers doesn’t want to just “consume”, they want immersive experiences. But you’ve heard that, right? And, these new travel experiences can’t just be experiential, they need to be transformative. Leaving a destination and returning as someone with a new outlook on life.
So, how did we get to the point where the average consumer has an expectation of a destination that is in parallel with an individual who might be spending many thousands of dollars on their vacation?
One medium that has influenced the landscape of travel is clearly social media. There have been several recent studies that show that the biggest influence of millennials booking travel is “how Instagrammable” a destination might be. Increased visibility to an awesome experience has certainly raised the bar.
We can also thank those individuals who are actually ON Instagram for creating all those covetable moments. Influencers have moved the needle in the direction of unattainable realities, think gold pineapple cocktails served up in flamingo inflatables at roof deck pool parties. While it all seems far-fetched, hotels and destinations have responded accordingly.
One exemplary example of a local hotel offering the complete destination experience is The Drifter. Imagine taking a step back to 1957 and checking into the roadside Motel 6 minus the leaky faucet. Instead of your standard stay, you will lounge on Eames era inspired furniture while possibly engaging in poolside yoga or meditation. It isn’t just about throwing amenities at your guest, it’s enveloping them in all things authentically unique or at least seemingly authentic.
So, how can we as travel and tourism destination marketers adapt our messaging in a way that will resonate for these new storyline seekers? We need to dig deep. Who are the individuals that uniquely comprise the cultural fabric of our destination? Who are the creators, artists and change makers we can connect our guests to? How can we do this in a way that is authentic and meaningful? What are the unique to our destination experiences we can exclusively offer to our consumers? Or how we can devise messaging and a commercial approach that delivers on the above promises?
With such a visually inclined audience, a destination needs to SHOW how they might be different- this can be via social channels, their advertising campaign or via earned media placement. This concept sounds simple enough, but does the quality of your assets align with messaging of your destination?
Local experience packages or “tours” as we used to call them should be made readily available to this new destination traveler. The experiences need to be made richer- behind the scenes tours, exclusive tastings, meet the maker one on one’s or unique to the destination activities like cliff side yoga, immersive grape stomp wine making followed by terroir trivia. While some of these things might sound ridiculous, there is certainly no question that each would be memorable… sign me up!