Curation is transforming the way people travel. It’s no longer about “bucket list destinations,” but, “bucket list experiences.” In years past, travelers may have been satisfied to see sites like the Eiffel Tower or Colosseum; now they want to get behind the scenes, get underground access or see a destination from the air. The possibilities for curated experiences are unlimited.
What Does Curated Travel Even Mean?
Curation is to collect, select and present information for people to use or enjoy, using your professional or expert knowledge. You may already be getting your social media or news content through curation. Content curation is simply filtering through the content across your social channels and news outlets based on your interests. Your results are an individualized collection for you. Curated travel is about selecting accommodations, restaurants and activities to create the perfect trip based on your individualized interests.
Industries Leading the Way
Curated Group Travel
Industry leaders recognize the need to individualize experiences. In episode 75 of Destination on the Left, Peter Pantuso, President of the American Bus Association commented:
“Our challenge as an industry in the group travel space has been that we’ve always typically offered one experience for 50 people on a coach. So, I began to start talking about creating that individualized experience within that group of 50 and replicating, to a certain degree, the cruise experience where it feels like an individual experience. I began to see and hear people say, ‘Well I’m already doing that.’ It was a very limited number. By talking about it more and by featuring those change agents in our publications or doing presentations where we could identify different individuals who were doing that, or giving examples through our educational programs, we’ve been able to move the industry a little bit in that direction, to be able to offer that individualized group travel experience and not just one size fits all”.
Curated Cruise Experiences
Cruise excursions have always been popular and now curated cruising brings travelers’ individualized experiences to a whole new level. Curated land adventures include immersive shore excursions, creative pre- and post-cruise options, small group programs and private arrangements. Imagine stepping off your ship in Bagan and taking to the air in a hot-air balloon and floating over thousands of stupas.
In 2018, Crystal River Cruises added more than 225 curated experiences within destinations. With a focus on authenticity, these experiences are designed for small groups and many can be tailored to travelers’ interests. They fall into five focused areas:
- Personal Connections, hosted by local residents, artisans and experts.
- Tantalizing Gastronomy, tours reflecting regional culinary styles with both dining and hands-on culinary activities.
- Cultural Discoveries feature expert guides about historical landmarks, museums and iconic sites.
- Exhilarating Adventures combine historical and cultural experiences.
- Lastly, with Design Your Time, a concierge will create a private tour or guests can select from a menu of customized choices.
How Destinations and Attractions Can Use This Trend for Marketing
How do you make your destination or attraction stand out from the crowd with curated travel? For destination and attraction marketers, the desire for individualized travel can be addressed in marketing by creating curated experiences from all your destination or attraction has to offer. Rather than a list of restaurants on your web site, create a progressive culinary package to deliver an experience rather than just a dinner. Attractions can go beyond passively entertaining travelers. Create interactive and behind the scenes experiences to accommodate different interests, ages, and budgets. Multiple experiences will entice travelers to return again and again.
Grow Your Business with Curated Experiences
Whether you are a destination, attraction or industry leader, understanding the demand from today’s travelers for curated experiences is essential to growing your business. Experience-driven travel is not going away, and has only gotten stronger over the past 18 months. Local experiences made number 4 on this list of top travel trends in 2021. Make sure you are on every traveler’s “bucket list of experiences!”