2018 Report on Experiential Trends in Hospitality

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Loyalty In Motion

The Sidewalk team just published a report highlighting 2018 experiential travel trends in the hospitality industry. As part of the report, Sidewalk also surveyed more than 200 travelers in the United States to find trends and preferences across key travel groups.

Titled, “Loyalty in Motion: 2018 Report on Experiential Trends in Hospitality,” the examination consists of an analysis of key developments, case studies and best practices for hospitality and travel brands considering local experience offerings.

To date, the narrative surrounding “experiential travel” or “transformative travel” has been driven by buzzwords and anecdotes. This report is the result of Sidewalk’s initiative to dig into the specifics of how hospitality brands can take ownership of the experiential travel movement, how they can build local experiences into their strategies, who they should target and how to evaluate success.

The big takeaways:

  • The 21st Century Traveler is increasingly sophisticated and wants to experience authentic local culture; 72% of travelers prefer experiences to objects, according to the American Express LifeTwist Study.

  • Trailblazing hospitality brands have begun to offer their guests local experiences and are finding encouraging success.

  • Local experiences are effective offerings to build customer loyalty through the demonstration of shared values.

  • Due to the convergence of technology advancements and traveler worldliness, 2018 is the perfect time for brands to develop local experience strategies and invest in customer relationship-building.

Progressive premium hospitality brands will be at the forefront of playing active roles in guests’ local experiences. Expect to see hotels, cruise lines, airlines and other businesses create and launch experiential products in 2018.

Decipher the 21st Century Traveler

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The Sidewalk survey found commonalities within four major demographic groups. These personas are organized by travel type (leisure vs. travel) and generational age (Millennials and Gen X), which represent the largest populations and highest per day travel spends.

Based on survey results:

  • What Millennial Leisure Travelers value when they travel and how it differs from their Millennial Business Traveler counterparts

  • How much Gen X travelers value flexibility in pace & style in the way they explore cities

  • Which social media platforms and digital services each group relies on for travel

  • How much each cohort values local culture, and which travel interests rank lowest

  • Who travels with each cohort and what opportunities they value

The report includes travel interests, priorities, social media habits, travel resource choices and more for each of the four personas.

Experiential Offerings: The New Table Stakes

The 2018 Experiential Trends in Hospitality report includes insights from a number of industry experts such as Chris Herndon, co-founder & CEO of The Guild Boutique Hotels. Herndon notes in the report that, “designing a hotel for local experiences is one of the most important things a hotelier can do.”

The experts agree that delivering local experiences has several benefits ranging from the ability to create affinity between brand and customer, to the ability to help profitability. “There is no doubt in the industry now that enabling local experiences improves guest satisfaction, and ultimately, your bottom line,” according to David Jacoby, the co-founder & President of Hostfully.

Experts Interviewed:

  • Chris Herndon, Co-Founder & CEO - The Guild Boutique Hotels

  • Mark Oliver, Vice President Business Development - GCommerce Solutions

  • David Jacoby, Co-Founder & President - Hostfully, Inc.

  • Duggan McDonnell, Author - Drinking The Devil's Acre: A Lover Letter from San Francisco and her Cocktails & Prestige Spirits Manager - Pernod Ricard USA

Build Smart & Effective Local Experiences

The report concludes with experiential service best practices including:

  • How to evaluate human-to-human experiences vs. digital-to-human experiences

  • Factors to consider in developing a local experience strategy

  • How to design and deliver on authenticity

  • How to effectively promote experiences to guests

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And of course, Sidewalk can help businesses to create engaging, branded, local experiences.

Keep your travel business ahead of the curve and download your copy today of Loyalty in Motion: The 2018 Report on Experiential Trends in Hospitality.

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Jason Donahue, Co-Founder & CEO

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