EXPERIENCE, for years we have been hearing more and more about experiential travel, this word continuously records a strong increase in online searches and its presence on travel sites.
Wine Experience, Food Experience, Cultural Experience and so on …
But what is really behind this word?
We are running the risk of transforming it into a simple synonym for “tour” but, in my opinion, it is not like that, indeed it is something much more complex. The experience in life, as a rule, is something that leaves its mark on us, something that we often remember forever, be it positive or negative … it must leave its mark and I think we all agree on this.
But how to make a journey leave its mark and become a real experience?
In recent years one of the things I have learned is knowing how to look with the eyes of those who have to live that experience and not with my own eyes. Empathy must become the basis of our product development . What for us, at times, is part of everyday life, may be for someone else what is called “once in a lifetime experience”. It is enough to know how to look at it from a different perspective.
When we develop a tour / product we must always try to understand what the reaction of our reference traveler may be.
Some experiences will be suitable and designed for the American market, others for Europe and still others for the national one. The perception and image of a given territory and activity can be completely different and consequently the expectations and emotions that derive from it.
From emotions, in fact, the experiences, or rather the sign, that they leave us are born; if we do not stimulate and arouse them we will not have achieved our goal. I would like to give a practical example of an extremely popular tourist product: Wine tasting or wine tour in the cellar.
Many times we happen to visit wineries that produce excellent wines and that after a tour with more or less technical notions, they make us sit for the part dedicated to tasting. We often find ourselves in splendid tasting rooms where, of course, the winery has invested in design furniture, modern furnishings, comfortable lights and beautiful armchairs … no objection, an excellent investment in terms of image … but in terms of emotions?
Are we sure that that environment, however well-kept and well-furnished, can arouse emotion in our target audience?
That tasting room will probably be the same in Tuscany as it is in New York, Hong Kong, Sydney or any other part of the world. It is possible to find such a tasting room in any wine club, restaurant or bar anywhere in the world. Maybe that room looks just like our potential traveler’s house.
What sense of amazement and what emotion will we have aroused in creating an environment that can be practically replicated anywhere in the world?
But in any part of the world we cannot find the vineyards of Tuscany, Umbria or Sicily. If we move that tasting from a design room to a point with a view of the vineyards, or even better of the vineyards, then it becomes a significant experience for those who are not used to seeing them every day. That traveler will drink that wine thinking “wow I am in Italy” … .. that wine will have a different impact and will provoke a completely different experience.
This is a minimal example, based only on where to do that particular tasting. When we add elements of interaction with local people and changed the way of doing cellar tours, then everything would be even more enriched by creating real emotions.
But if we do not develop our “experiences” with empathy and a different perspective, we will not have achieved our goal.