Experience, The New Itinerary


Cultivate the [insert desire] in you.

For years, Convention Visitor Bureau’s (CVB’s) have been coming up with ways to sell their destinations to the masses — most notably, through itinerary planning.

You see it all the time in your social feeds through promoted content from a “Visit [Destination];” but if you’re like me, you’ve started to see an industry shift. CVB’s are changing their social handle names from “Visit” to things like “Pure”,“100%”, or “All Things”- falling in line with online behavior directly associated to a desire for authenticity (in most cases the authenticity is faked, but that’s besides the point.)

The nomenclature change is important to reference, because the content itself is physically changing. Itineraries are no longer being offered like Disney World packages where a purchase gets you a bundle you may or may not utilize all the offerings in.

Experiences are what consumers are gravitating towards. Traveling to a destination is only one component — what you do there, how you interact with people, the sights, the smells, and what you learn are the most impactful components that cause awareness of a destination.

The largest appeal of experiences, is the uniqueness to the individual. It’s not a pre-packaged opportunity for the masses like an itinerary pulled from a CVB website. When you craft experiences for people with local partnerships, you give back to the community you are promoting — all while creating unique opportunities for people who are passing through, staying for a while, or contemplating moving there.

Giving the old model of pre-planned itineraries a facelift is not as complicated as it sounds. Using similar content offerings, but expanding it back to the community that is being promoted — taking it a step further by connecting experience seekers with local guides, just like CVB listings are currently set up on the website.

From there, providing insight as to what will take place follows the traditional who and what model: who the local guide is and what the actual experience entails from start to finish.

A prime example of how this works is Airbnb Experiences. For now, this concept is unique to them. However, I encourage CVB’s to reflect on why this model is important. Hotels can be booked for reasons vastly different than concerts, conferences, and the like. Repeat value not based on solely seasonality — but experiencing local flavor in the most figurative and literal sense.

Experience can’t be limited just to the Airbnb model, and we know this to be true. New Zealand adopted a completely different content approach to the experience oriented.

Not only have they moved away from the “Visit” model referenced above, but they promote content that appeals to experiencing New Zealand limited to 24 hour time slots. The anthem brand video was broken down to reflect what you would experience from sunrise to sunset all within one day. At its core it sounds familiar, right?

These promoted experience pieces perform well within interactive Canvas mobile units on Facebook, and allow the user to get a immersive visual understanding of what they will experience if they book a trip to New Zealand.

You can take a breather — itineraries are here to stay; it’s the content form they take place in, and our approach that is shifting rapidly.