Are you a ‘bucket-list’ destination yet?

20/04/2016 By Jon Young

Are you a ‘bucket-list’ destination yet?  If the answer is no, then you may be missing out on a growing trend that could help you boost visitation to your destination – whether you run a holiday site, accommodation or a visitor attraction.

As demonstrated in our Holiday Trends research, bucket-list travel is becoming increasingly popular.  On average, Britons take a bucket-list holiday once every 3 years.  They are most popular amongst 18-34 year olds who take this type of holiday once every 18 months.  This means people may take around 20+ bucket-list holidays by their 70th birthday.  That’s a long list, and an attractive one for you to get on.  But how?

The increased desire for bucket-list holidays ties in with the rise in experientialism (as recently outlined by my colleague Jon Young at the National Attractions Marketing Conference).   And by providing an experiential holiday you are more likely to make it on to those lists.

We identified three key areas of experientialism that can help your destination to get onto people’s bucket-lists:

  1. Offer something completely different:
    Our Experience Intensity analysis amongst attractions shows that ‘offering something different’ is a crucial experiential aspect differentiating between sites that are average and those on bucket-lists.  Our research highlights a number of tools you could use to achieve this.  Examples include providing the chance for visitors to actively co-create their adventure, establishing immersive environments, and feeding and promoting people’s personal identity through personalisation.
  1. Importance of people:
    Just seeing must-see places during a visit is not enough anymore. Experiential holidaymakers want to build up connections with locals during their visit, say Peak + Skift in their report, The Rise of Experiential Travel.  They describe this as the ‘TEDification’ of experiences and provide the example of the rise of ‘non-guide’ holiday guides.  They state that experiential holidaymakers prefer a ‘local’ with authentic knowledge and connection to the area rather than a traditional, employed holiday rep (and we can confirm that’s really the case, as recently found in one of our focus groups).
  1. Pre and post visit communications:
    Experiential holidays start and finish way before and after the actual trip.  Destinations need to communicate and facilitate conversations in advance and experiences shared afterwards.   The Swedish tourist board have done this literally.  They have set-up a phone line with Swedish resident volunteers that allows prospective holidaymakers to phone them up and ask questions in advance of the holiday.  They took an enthusiastic 11,000 calls on their opening weekend.

For more information on our findings on bucket-list holidays and other holiday related trends, take a look at the Holiday Trends report.