Five Trends the Experiences Sector Should Take Note Of

At this month’s Arival 360 Conference in Orlando, FLDouglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival, shared the main trends that are impacting the tours, activities and experiences sector, during his opening keynote. Addressing more than 1,000 delegates from the sector, Quinby said: “There has never been a better time to be in travel experiences. We are well on our way to becoming a $300 billion industry. There are more high quality trips now, and people are spending more on those trips.”

Recent Arival research presented by Quinby during the keynote showed that the average number of activities people take on each trip is now seven. The five major trends Quinby said the experiences sector should take note of include:

1. The Affluent Traveler

“We have to understand our audiences," said Quinby. "They are now more diverse than ever. The affluent traveler—those with incomes of $150,000 and up—account for a fifth of all travelers, yet are responsible for nearly half of experiences spend. So, ask yourself, do you know who these travelers are; do you have products and revenue and pricing that will serve them … and you?”

2. TikTok as a Booking Channel

Said Quinby: “Last year, we predicted that TikTok may surpass [Instagram] and Facebook as an experiences inspiration and booking channel for 18- to 34-year-olds. It has exceeded our expectations and this year it has surpassed those channels. It’s now only second to Google for this age group.”

3. The Future of Weather

"Your businesses and personal lives have been impacted. The things that are happening … it’s only going to get more extreme," he added. "It’s a big issue and we have to ask ourselves, how will this impact travel, where will people go, how can we adapt our tours [and] how will this impact cancelations?”

4. The Future of Tech

“Even in 2023, according to our research, as many as half of all tour and activities operators are still not using modern software that connects them to the global ecosystem," Quinby said. "Imagine if airlines didn’t use a central reservations system—we wouldn’t even be sitting here today. It’s clear where growth is going to come from—OTAs—they’ve experienced more than 250 percent growth between 2019 and 2025. So, the experiences industry really needs to adopt the right technology to reach the right people.”

5. Future of Experiences

“Older travelers plan and book experiences after they’ve done everything else, often when they’re in destination. However, younger travelers are quite different; they’re thinking about experiences early, and they’re becoming more important to the trips," he added. "Nearly half of Gen Z and Gen Y travelers say experiences are influencing where they go. The shift is gone from ‘let’s go here and we could do a bunch of things while we’re there’ … to ‘I want to do this, so let’s go somewhere we can do that.'”

More than 1,000 representatives from 400 companies across the tours, activities, attractions and experiences sectors attended the 2023 Arival 360 Conference. Other topics included artificial intelligence and its implications for the experiences industry, digital distribution, pricing, passion travel and partnerships and how inclusion and diversity will continue to drive fundamental shifts in the way people experience travel and the response they expect.

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