Planning an experiential trip might seem easy and often the initial excitement can be palpable at the start of the process. Laptop open, search engine page at the ready, notebook open on your lap. The reality is that six hours later, thirty open tabs and a brain fried from screen exhaustion, you’re left feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t get me wrong, some people love the researching element of a trip and the quest for that ‘ah-hah’ moment can be quite thrilling. But, the truth is, the average holidaymaker is not an expert and nor should they be on knowing what travel experience will be truly right for them. Glossy websites can sway you to booking a trip that’s far removed from what you were really looking for. No-one wants to be disappointed when the destination or hotel was not what they signed up for.
There’s a real shift taking place in the travel industry, one that is a real game-changer for those looking to book a trip that’s more tailored, authentic and meaningful. Experience-based or experiential travel is not just about understanding the detail of places, it’s about understanding people. So, if you are planning an experiential trip for your honeymoon, a solo adventure or for a special occasion, here are three reasons why a specialised travel agent is crucial.
Getting to know WHY you want to go instead of WHERE
We it comes to planning experiential trips, specialised travel agents are a great source of unbiased information and advice, if you choose the right one. Experiential travel agents focus on the drivers of why you want a go on a trip and not on where. In essence, they will probe deeper into how you want to feel on your trip. On the face of it, that might seem like an easy question to answer, but go beyond the generalities of “I’m tired”, “I need a break” or “I need the sunshine” and you’ll find yourself pausing to think about it a little more.
Lee came to us in late December 2019. He had already consulted several traditional travel agents but despite being very specific as to what he wanted, the options that were presented to him just didn’t fit the bill. Living in Hong Kong and stressed out from his work, he was desperate to leave the city. He knew he wanted an immersive and authentic trip but he didn’t have the time or headspace to organise an escape.
Having already travelled extensively around Asia for business and pleasure, it was key to find Lee somewhere new and exciting. We chose the Philippines. A nation that is emerging as one of the most experience-based countries in the region. With an island voted the best in the world in Palawan, a surf scene to rival Bali in Siargao and an incredibly friendly and warm people, it presented itself as the ideal destination for his trip.
A great agent will connect you with the right people
A good travel agent that specialises in experience-based travel will connect you with the right people at your destination to give you a unique experience. The opposite of a tick box holiday, customisation and personalisation are crucial elements to making it memorable.
They could arrange a behind the scenes tour of a city’s street food scene with a vlogger like Mark Wiens, one of the best in Asia. Experiences like this won’t be found on your traditional itinerary or through a high street agency.
Experience-based travel agents have often spent time themselves in the countries they promote, building relationships with key locals. These personal relationships built over months and sometimes years are the foundation of experiential travel. Local people can provide you with insights into their culture that can make your trip that more meaningful.
Sustainability and experiential travel planning should go hand in hand
Planning an experiential trip by yourself may inadvertently put you in places or hotels that are unethical. Ensuring you have a responsible agent who knows the reality behind a destination is a great starting point. Avoiding over touristed areas where impacts on nature are high will be part of the process. They will organise a stay at properties that have environmental and social responsibility as part of their core values. Understanding your impact as a tourist on where you travel is crucial to having an amazing experiential trip.
The more you are aware of the contribution you can make to the local community and wildlife through tours or even just by staying at an eco-hotel, the richer the experience you’ll have. It’s easy to forget this when planning your dream trip. Choosing the right travel agent means you can arrive at your destination and enjoy your trip safe in the knowledge that the positive impact you will have will be that much greater.
A sharp departure from the travel agents that offer the same tried and tested, off-the-shelf packages are travel agents that listen. It’s a real step into the future and a responsible, forward-thinking way of planning an experiential trip.
Many Moons Travel are experts in experiential trips for honeymoons, solo trips and special occasion travel.