Some words can be used synonymously with both traveling and experiential marketing: authenticity, engagement, local, experience, memorable, adventure, comfort zone, and many more.
If you have been fortunate enough to do some traveling—whether that means to grandma’s house in the country, the west coast, Europe, the Middle East, or Australia—then “experiential marketing” could be familiar for you.
Simon Sinek (Columbia University professor and author) gave a 2009 TEDx talk entitled How Great Leaders Inspire Action.
His main takeaway?
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
The sentence has really stuck with me. People buy the experience more often than a specific product. This is a crucial factor for success in event marketing.
Local street teams and brand ambassadors provide people with access to experiences with value and meaning.
I have always been an experiential kind of person, especially when it comes to traveling. A background of my travel history:
- I’ve traveled to 25 states in the U.S.
- Europe twice (England (2), France (2), Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands)
- Five and a half months in Cape Town, South Africa for study in college
- South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique
What’s the Offer?
In all of my travels, I’ve participated in a mix of typical brochure tourism and more local and immersive experiences, like safari camping in the Okavango Delta of Botswana and immersion in the small town of Tofo on the coast of Mozambique.
Traveling is increasingly less about passively witnessing historical sites and more about actively experiencing what a country or community has to offer.
Peak DMC and Skift’s 2014 special report about the Rise of Experiential Travel presents statistics about travelers today:
- The adventure travel market, meaning more active traveling and the desire to travel like a local over a pre-packaged brochure trip, has grown 65% yearly since 2009.
- 71% of respondents in the U.S. surveyed in April 2014 stated they would prefer to travel with friends/family and book local.
- 80% of the 18-34 year olds surveyed gave the same response
These travelers, these young, active influencers and experiential seekers, are the type of people experiential marketers should be targeting.
Laura Fink, VP of Marketing at American Express Travel, says,
“Consumers want to have life-fulfilling experiences when they travel, and they are seeking travel experiences that closely align to their own personal values.”
This observation pertains to experiential marketing goals as well.
Brands should create authentic experiences that will draw in local people, take them out of their comfort zone, and create lasting memories and brand loyalty.
“Why,” not just “Buy”
Sometimes, when you want to reach your goals in traveling or in experiential marketing, you have to recognize your passion: the “why,” rather than just the “buy.”
Sometimes you have to wave goodbye to your apprehension and jump into an exciting and memorable experience.
Who knows, you could find a new brand you love or that changes your life forever.
It’s this excitement, anticipation, and manageable trepidation that gets people going, builds lasting memories, and creates experiences worth talking about.
Do yourself a favor and do it for you.
Do your brand a favor and do it for your audience.