Getting Intimate with the Destination: Three Blurred Lines in Travel

Peter Mayer Agency

Just as Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was inescapable last summer, blurred lines in the travel industry is a theme that can’t be avoided. In this post, we look at three distinct (but blurry) areas that are redefining what it means to travel.

Local vs. tourist: Travelers are seeking more authentic experiences

Increasingly, travelers are dying to immerse themselves in the true experience of their destination. They are eschewing the tried-and-true, cab- to hotel-concierge-recommended, “must visit” restaurant trope. They already know what it is like to stay in a Marriott – they’ve done that in countless cities throughout their lives. They want to know what it is like to live in a city. To be of the city.

Across all facets of travel, they’re ditching “the establishment”; they’re opting to stay in an apartment that is vacant for the weekend (Airbnb), they’re eating down the street in the home of a stranger that loves to cook (EatWith), they’re renting bikes from a couple that isn’t using theirs (Spinlister), and forget the played-out tour company- they’re seeking experiences like “Look Into a Honeybee Hive with an Experienced Beekeeper” in Dallas and “Explore the Hidden Ecology of Central Park After Dark” in New York (SideTour and Viator).

This isn’t to say that all travelers are abandoning the comforts of familiar hotels, established restaurants and tourist attractions – some will still fill their itineraries this way, but many will strive to mix a little gritty authenticity into that familiar comfort.

At-home vs. vacation activities: Travelers are pursuing lifestyle activities while traveling

Sure, travelers who like to eat and drink well have always made dining an important component of their travels. Those that like history and art have always gone to museums. But now, people are increasingly traveling specifically to pursue a passion – and ones farther afield than those traditionally included in itineraries (dining, sightseeing).

A recent travel trends report by InterContinental Hotels Group quotes an industry professional as saying, “I see more people now traveling for an interest or hobby, whether that’s salsa dancing or running a marathon. People increasingly seem to want to combine travel with their interests…”

VisitSacramento.com notes people with common interests traveling together more frequently and works with them to create custom itineraries. Couple the rise of the niche traveler with an increasing interest in “sustainable tourism,” and we see a decline in mass tourism.

Business vs. leisure travel: Business travelers are adding leisure time

As the lines between work life and home life have become increasingly nonexistent (checking work emails from home, anyone? Looking at Facebook at work? Of course and of course), so too have the lines between business travel and leisure travel.

According to a recent study by American Express, two-thirds of business travelers added leisure time to at least one of their business trips in the last year. According to a travel industry professional, this tactic is becoming increasingly popular. For some, it might mean tacking on a weekend, whereas for others, it simply means choosing a flight late in the day to allow more time to explore the city.

Even those unable to add time to their trips are seeking to make them more memorable. Forbes recommends “[inviting] a client or colleague to an exhibition you’d like to see,” while Lonely Planet suggests holding a meeting at a “[restaurant] you’ve been dying to visit.”

Across this set of blurred lines, the linking thread is an abandonment of the cookie-cutter vacation experience for a trip that is unique to the traveler.

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