Shared by Academic Travel Abroad’s Marketing and Production Coordinator, Megan Brothers.
Today’s traveler is drastically different than yesterday’s tourist. It’s no longer enough to visit Paris to see the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Travelers want more. They are searching for a deeper, more authentic connection with even the most well-known destinations.
The number of travelers who want to dine with local residents, take behind-the-scenes tours, and learn through hands-on experiences have rapidly increased over the last five years. Travel is transitioning from surface-level vacations to interactive and immersive theme-based travel.
What exactly is theme-based travel, anyway?
Theme-based travel is defined as a trip that concentrates on a particular subject or topic. Rather than focusing on broad aspects of a destination, theme-based travel delves into topics on a deeper level. Instead of providing a basic tour of Holland, a theme-based approach would focus specifically on the Dutch landscape while barging in Holland during peak tulip season. The possibilities for creating trips based on themes are truly endless.
Read on to learn why theme-based travel is worth implementing.
1. Give new legs to old destinations.
Renowned tourist hotspots are losing their allure as travel becomes more attainable. Theme-based programs are the perfect remedy for cliché destinations that have fallen prey to travelers’ been there, done that attitude.
Take London, for example. Travelers are no longer satisfied with gazing at Parliament from across the river or taking cliché phone-booth photos. They would rather step inside the House of Parliament to discuss the political implications of the Brexit vote with Parliament members, professors, and international experts. Theme-based programs breathe new life into common destinations and make them shine again.
2. Tap into new audiences.
Imagine how lucrative a trip could be if it was designed and targeted at a specific audience. When someone has a strong interest, he or she wants to share it with others and expand their knowledge and involvement with it. A generic program to France may appeal to a large audience. However, a more focused French film trip to Cannes can generate even more excitement, especially amongst a niche audience of movie-buffs. Theme-based travel provides countless opportunities to target new niche audiences.
3. Drive loyalty through common bonds.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for travelers on theme-based programs is the chance to forge a common bond among peers. Group travel can be intimidating, especially when traveling solo, but theme-based programs provide participants peace-of-mind that others will share their same interests. A themed-trip focusing on D-Day is likely to attract military-history enthusiasts, war veterans, and history professors. Their common interest ensures camaraderie and meaningful engagement.
Positive traveler experience drives brand loyalty and encourages repeat travel. After all, who better to promote a new WWII trip to than those who previously enjoyed a D-Day trip?
4. Remove the cliché from travel.
Today’s travelers are looking for more unique, authentic, and immersive experiences. Theme-based travel provides new opportunities to visit bucket-list destinations in more meaningful and memorable ways. Visiting Paris to take selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower and eat baguettes in a park isn’t that special. Wouldn’t a tailored French cuisine trip complete with a cooking class taught by a French chef and a meeting with local artisans to learn about regional cheeses be more exciting?
Help travelers step out of tourist traps and into unforgettable, immersive experiences by offering unique, theme-based programs.
5. Harness the power of storytelling.
It goes without saying that the phrase fear of missing out resonates across all generations. Travelers want to be in the action and share their stories with friends and family. They also want their travels to be unique and impactful.
Take Cuba, for example. Which trip description might sound more enticing to a prospective traveler?
Generic Option A: Cruise to Cuba and explore the dynamic island. Enjoy a day excursion and relax on Cuba’s beautiful beaches, sightsee from the comfort of an air-conditioned tour bus, and spend the afternoon on a self-guided tour of Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Theme-Based Option B: Experience authentic Cuba and meet with a diverse group of locals. On this trip, discuss historic preservation with experts, learn salsa from local dancers, visit schools, art studios, and privately-owned businesses to witness Cuba’s shifting cultural and economic landscape. Eat delicious Cuban-cuisine at local paladars and come home with a hand-rolled cigar, made especially for you by a Cuban factory worker.
While both options have their own appealing qualities, Option A might leave travelers lost in a sea of tourists, exploring destinations from the window of a bus. Option B on the other hand, will surely provide immersive experiences and countless storytelling opportunities. Trips with storytelling power drive brand awareness and will encourage others to seek similar travel experiences.
Theme-based travel narrows the focus of a trip while simultaneously widening the appeal. There’s no reason to wait—now is the time to capture new audiences and revive old destinations! Welcome to the world of them-based travel.