While reading this issue’s cover story, “Eight Great Escapes in India,” I was struck by all the experiences that can be had in that amazing country. The attractions and activities in the story all share a sense of uniqueness and authenticity, and they provide travelers with the sort of experiential travel so many consumers are seeking.
In a recent interview with Travel Weekly (which is owned by our parent company, Northstar Travel Media), Tony Gonchar, vice president of the American Express Consumer Travel Network, discussed the importance of this ongoing trend toward more enriching travel. Gonchar said travelers continue to march toward more personalized experiential travel as they seek a deeper level of authenticity.
“The enrichment trend is something that we have been seeing over the last couple of years,” he said. “More and more consumers are looking to go a little bit beyond the traditional path. Vacations that include elements of enrichment and education mean people come back with a refreshed, changed mindset as well as having enjoyed the relaxing experience that is typically part of a consumer’s vacation.”
Gonchar also pointed out that the popularity of this type of travel directly increases the value of travel agents’ advice, as consumers look for guidance.
“This shifting of desire and interest on the part of the consumer means they need to find someone with the expertise to help them arrange the best possible experience for the budget they’ve got,” Gonchar said. “More and more people are going to be looking for that type of expertise to help them navigate all the choices before them.”
Indeed, as consumers seek to get off the well-worn tourist path, agents are going to be relied upon more and more. It’s important for travel agents to continue to educate themselves on the latest offerings in a destination. Knowledgeable agents have the opportunity to guide clients while planning one-of-a-kind vacations — and that kind of assistance could win over customers for many vacations to come.