How can travel companies evolve to stay relevant and meet the expectations of the new-world immersive traveller?
2016 has been a busy year for the experience economy and particularly those in the travel & hospitality business, with more and more consumers fixated on buying into a genuine adventure, immersing themselves into new cultures and engaging in personalised local experiences outside rather than the sterilised environment of traditional resorts and package-deal vacations.
Airbnb has just announced the launch of their latest offering, Trips – a curated selection of 'immersions' (experiences and activities) – from cooking classes to walking tours and soon even restaurant bookings. Eager travellers watch film-like trailers to help them to choose the experience that ticks all of their travel boxes.
For the most part Trips experiences are peer-to-peer offerings, with a handful of experiences curated by not-for-profit partnerships.
Earlier this year, an open-air hotel, called Null Stern embraced an entirely new experience by offering a room with no walls high in the Swiss Alps. The hotel is quite seriously just a bed and practically nothing else, creating an unusual and immersive experience for guests.
Null Stern isn't the only hotel challenging the traditional concept of the hotel - London travel agency, Black Tomato has just this past month introduced Blink - a luxury pop-up temporary hotel, that can be built almost anywhere. Blink (and you miss it...) promises rare and personalised experiences, which their guests can choose from a desert to a rainforest.
Closer to home, RedBallon offers rooftop glamping experience in the heart of the Melbourne CBD blends it's unique urban local, luxurious amenities and the best local food and drink that Melbourne has to offer with the down-to-earth, communal experience of traditional camping.
Unique and rare travel experiences are growing in popularity and consumers are increasingly seeking out unusual adventures (that no other person has done before). As travel companies such as Airbnb and Black Tomato continue to evolve their business models and raise consumer expectations, how can the existing players in the travel and hospitality industry adapt and stay relevant?