It’s likely that you’ve seen them being taken or have snapped a few yourself. Today, taking a “selfie” (a photo of you taken with your camera or smartphone) is common for people across all ages. And not only are selfies filling up social media timelines, they can help drive hotel revenues.
In all seriousness, “selfies” are not direct drivers or deterrents of hotel revenue. We are using the term as a metaphor to represent the shift toward experiential travel preferences. Many consumers, from millennials to mature, desire unique, outside-the-box experiences, so the travel industry is adapting quickly to accommodate and cater to their needs. In exchange, consumers are exploring new destinations, spending more money and snapping more “selfies” to capture their experiences. All that being said, here’s why independent hotel owners and operators, even those in seemingly unlikely locales, must identify experiential travel opportunities in their market and leverage them to generate revenue for their properties.
Experiential travel is often confused with extreme travel, such as deep sea diving or skydiving. While these activities are definitely experiential, they fall on the far end of the travel spectrum. Experimental travel can include activities that simply extend beyond the traditional tourist stops. For example, wine lovers visiting Atlanta can enhance their trip with a 2-hour drive to the wineries in the North Georgia mountains or those looking for a fun snow day can drive west along I-70 from Denver and spend time tubing in a town like Frisco, CO. And for those looking to venture further off the beaten path, Marfa, Texas, a town known for its off-beat art, music and fashion culture, is located about 200 miles from El Paso, Texas.
These are the types of destinations and experiences that have grown in popularity over the past several years and are perfect for hoteliers to align themselves with and market to travelers. Experiential travelers want to feel as if they are getting an experience that is exclusive and special, so operators have to figure out ways to provide their guests with these unique opportunities. Today, it is essential for hotel managers to be local travel experts who are always “in-the-know” in their community.
Creativity is key in providing these unique experiences. For inspiration, simply take a look at offer sites like Groupon and Living Social to see what activities are popular in your area. These are the vendors who can help drive your business forward. By developing relationships with these companies and creating “selfie-worthy” experiential travel packages, such as including admission to sporting events, culinary tastings or community exploration tours with reservations, managers can generate incremental revenue that, if managed well, will trickle down to the bottom line and bolster annual profits.
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