Immersed in nature in Milan, the Levitation Project (courtesy European Environmental Agency on Flickr CC)

Immersed in nature in Milan, the Levitation Project (courtesy European Environmental Agency on Flickr Creative Commons)

It’s that time of year, when thoughts turn to trends in tourism and destination marketing.

Here’s the thing, though.

A big pile of trends, of “Pay attention to mobile!” plus “Pay attention to video!” plus “Pay attention to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality!” plus “Don’t forget chatbots!” plus “What about influencer marketing?” can lead to major Trend Fatigue.

It can feel overwhelming, right?

In our most recent trends post (we called it untrendy tourism trends) we discussed:

  • visual storytelling,
  • social media for customer service, and
  • building tourism alliances and partnerships.

Those are all still important, but tucked into there was also the ONE THING we want you to pay attention to in 2018 – experiences and experiential travel.

This 2018 Tourism Trend Isn’t a New Idea

We admit, we’re not breaking new ground here.

If you search for experiential travel information on Skift, for example, you’ll see articles that are over five years old, in addition to their most recent research report that you can buy.

We’ve covered the topic ourselves, in this post about traveler micro moments, and this post about museum marketing.

Travel author Nomadic Matt says all the experiential travel buzz is really just “pure marketing bullsh*t,” and is simply authentic travel that anyone has always been able to do.

What we want you to understand as a boots-on-the-ground destination marketer or tourism partner is that seeking unique travel experiences is definitely not just a generational preference, like these Chinese Millennials going to Finland to experience the Northern Lights.

Everyone regardless of age wants “the real deal.”

How will you give it to them?

How will your marketing materials convince visitors that you can deliver?

Do This One Thing – Create Immersive Content & Showcase Your Experiences In It

Think about what your writing teachers always said in school: “Show, don’t tell.”

That’s how you need to think about every bit of your social media and digital destination marketing, in 2018 and beyond.

When you show what you offer in a compelling way, your visitors, guests, and customers will share it and tell others about you, too.

—>  Show people your town, your attraction, your hotel, your local food, your friendly local business through terrific photography….your own, and by sharing the best ones from visitors and guests (make sure you ask permission, of course.)

Try taking 360 degree photos on your phone for your Facebook Page – they “surround” the viewer.

Understand that because of Instagram, unlikely places with visual appeal can turn into tourist hotspots.

If your photography is merely adequate, work hard this year to make it significantly better.

—>  Show people what you offer through the most eye-popping video that you can create. Take them on a tour with you using live video, give them a bird’s eye view with a drone, or put them IN the destination with 360 video.

Screenshot of Visit St Pete Clearwater Florida 360 video page on website

Screenshot of Visit St Pete Clearwater Florida 360 video page on their website – click through to see their videos.

Think about how to make even “regular” video touch all of the viewer’s senses, like this one below from Silversea Cruises that makes you think of touch (a hand is shown brushing across fabric, grass, water, and wood) and sprinkles distinctive sounds throughout, in addition to the piano score.

—>  Show people what you have through audio content, which literally gets into people’s heads through their ears.

You don’t have to start a full-on podcast series, either. Here is Travel Oregon using embedded Soundcloud audio files to enhance their post about haunted places across the state.

Images, video, and audio that convey a “you are here” feeling, and then wonderful experiences when people arrive – that’s what to focus on moving forward.

What is one trend that has your attention right now? Let us know down in the comments!


At Tourism Currents, we help you and your tourism partners learn how to use social media and digital destination marketing to bring more visitors to town. Pick what works for you: our self-paced online course in social media for tourism, our coaching/consulting services, or our speaking and workshop services.

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Screenshot Tourism Currents Twitter account

What’s Happening on Our Social Networks?

**  Our top tweet this past month – re-sharing one of our most popular posts, about museum marketing.

**  Our top Facebook Page post this past month – a toolkit for you “Social Media Army of One” folks.

**  Our top LinkedIn Company Page post this past month – our tips for marketing events that have a short lead time.

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