By Kacey Bradley
Costa Rica Plays a Significant Role in the Experiential Travel Trend
More people look to experiential travel to invest in themselves every year. Travelers desire a more unique, engaging and authentic immersion in adventure and culture, to be within the everyday essence of a site rather than sight-see. These travelers increasingly turn away from traditional pre-packaged destination brochures. Today, the travel industry offers more interconnected travel experiences, and though technology may isolate individuals, it also brings them together. Apps possess the power to connect travelers with natives to gain tips on enjoying a more culturally authentic experience and meet up with other adventurers.
Millennials have been a popular target demographic for hoteliers promoting experiential travel — 78 percent tend to spend on experiences over things, and reports indicate the experiential luxury sector repeatedly outperforms other areas of luxury goods. From bootstrap to luxury traveling, people desire transformative experiences where they don't have to leave their routines or passions behind, and they gain new insight into the world around them, changing because of it.
Meanwhile, popular travel destinations experience a homogenization in the globalization of mainstreaming travel experiences and the invasion of fast food chains, large hotels and too similar modern architecture. Moving away from homogenously westernized, brochure-chic travel destinations, Costa Rica plays a significant role in the experiential travel trend.
Costa Rica Among the Top Experiential Travel Destinations A 2016 Virtuoso travel specialist survey revealed an increase of sales for adventure and specialty travel, and Costa Rica placed among the top experiential travel trends, with the Great Barrier Reef ranking third as an endangered, adventure destination. Popular activities include hiking, biking, food and wine, wildlife viewing, scuba diving, photography and arts and culture. Millennials aren't the only group enjoying experiential travel. All ages of various relationship styles are booking destinations for experiential travel, with couples and honeymooners coming out on top as adventure travelers. Next comes immediate families, friend groups, solo travelers and multigenerational family travelers.
travelers focus more on destinations that offer multiple types of experiences. For example, travelers book lodgings more in Latin America to enjoy the combination of culture, nature and varied activities available. Remote destinations, such as the Arctic, are also popular for the unspoiled but endangered natural landscapes. Costa Rica is beautifully ancient and yet modern in consistently warm climate, with a wet and dry season, and doesn't sit in the middle of a hurricane zone. What's not for travelers to love? PEAK DMC chose Costa Rica as its Central America base due to its commitment to the environment and extensive ecotourism offerings. In 2016, Costa Rica generated 98 percent of electricity without relying on fossil fuels, which shows an earnest commitment to sustainability travelers want to see and support. The destination management company plans innovative offerings that showcase iconic sites as well as hidden gems, such as coffee harvesting among the Guatemalan highlands and sleeping over in a Mayan village.
Villa Punto De Vista, a luxury villa in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica, goes beyond mere mentions of luxury amenities and surrounding attractions — rather, the villa knows and expresses the soul and atmosphere of the area where it is based as an active participant and helps curate guests' experiences. Guests hike through the national park to discover hidden waterfalls and observe the poison dart frog or ride on horseback on a family farm to take in the trees that compete with California Redwoods. Downtown nightlife is noted as a step away, detailing various types of Central American cuisines for foodies.
How Hoteliers Can Enhance Their Offerings
Experiential travel addresses the needs and desires of visitors on multiple levels. Many want feelings of seclusion and adventure away from the world, while others want to be immersed in nature, deep in the waves and go out in the evenings to drink and eat like a local. Organized trips guide travelers but sometimes leave them feeling obligated to the pre-planned itinerary when something else catches their eye. Hoteliers are uniquely positioned to draw in experiential travelers. Think of your destination as more than a place to stay or getaway — it's truly a home away from home. Now, go a step further.
What are most uniquely local aspects of your destination? Imagine the couples, solo travelers and families coming to stay with you. What might their day look like? What if you curated a haunted dining experience with a five-course meal after a local ghost tour? Is your area a popular bird watching destination, and have populations been on a rise or decline? Do you have unique gardens an artist or nature enthusiast might appreciate? Whether small or large, you offer more than a place to sleep. Curate experiential travel experiences based on your relationship with the community and outside area. Your guests will take home an even greater memorable stay and venture back to adventure again.