The world’s most popular landmark is being visited by a staggering 30 million tourists a year. It’s not The Great Wall of China. And it’s not the Egyptian Pyramids. It is in fact Niagara Falls on the border of the US and Canada.
Travellers are incredibly loyal to the world’s most iconic sites – but they are becoming increasingly interested in new experiences.
TripAdvisor says that cultural categories such as food tours, cooking classes and heritage experiences are all on the rise – with bookings for historic experiences leading the charge – up 125% in 2017.
Aquatic activities are also on the rise. Sunset cruises (+89% in bookings), snorkeling (+64%), sailing trips (+55%), catamaran cruises (+51%), and kayaking and canoeing experiences (+49%) all ranked in 2017’s fastest-growing categories.
What are the top 10 experiences and attractions in the world?
According to TripAdvisor, the following ‘things to do’ are the top 10 experiences in the world – and you should be taking full advantage if your hotel is located anywhere near them:
Berlin Bike Tour
New York City, US
New York in One Day Guided Sightseeing Tour– New York City, New York
New Orleans, US
New Orleans Cooking Class
Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua Maori Hangi Dinner and Performance
Best of Niagara Falls Tour from Niagara Falls, Ontario
Vancouver to Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour by Bus
Wild Wicklow Tour including Glendalough from Dublin
One of the most notable findings from TripAdvisor’s research around tourist attractions found that travellers are increasingly looking to book ‘skip-the-line’ experiences, as they seek convenience and aim to maximise their holiday time.
Four of the 10 fastest-growing experiences in 2017 were ‘skip the line’ and TripAdvisor lists more than 1,200 skip-the-line tickets globally, with options at some of the most popular sites in the world, including the Eiffel Tower, the Sagrada Familia, and the London Eye.
New attractions for a new wave of traveller and hotel guest
Stepping away from TripAdvisor and into Airbnb’s space, the experiences available to guests become somewhat less obvious and more localised.
Airbnb currently offers more than 15,000 experiences available for travellers to book alongside its alternative accommodation options, and the aim is to offer “…local people – not professional tour guides – to give guests travel with a twist”.
Here are five of Airbnb’s most booked experiences since the company launched the add-on offering back in 2016:
1. Paella maestro (Barcelona, Spain)
Tech entrepreneur and host Eladi channels her passion for food into a gastronomic experience for guests. She teaches foodies how to make perfect paella, sangria and Crema Catalana, Spain’s lighter version of Crème Brulee – though also scorched with a blow torch.
2. Hike Runyon Canyon with a rescue dog (Los Angeles, USA)
Scrambling up LA’s Runyon Canyon usually comes with a star sighting or two, but this ‘Social Impact Experience’ – hiking with rescue dogs – is out of this world, according to guests. The $45 participation fee goes to an animal welfare non-profit too.
3. Laugh your way through the Louvre (Paris, France)
Knock knock: who’s there? Cedrik – the experience host, professional stand-up comedian and museum guide – shows guests the lighter side of the Louvre. Guests say after hearing his “sweet yet risqué” sense of humour, you may well find out the secret behind Mona Lisa’s sly smile.
4. Brixton hidden jazz club (London, UK)
When host and jazz musician Theo starts to sing, guests say they’re in “awe” of him. Jam with him and other local greats inside a shipping container-cum-club in the artsy south London neighbourhood of Brixton.
5. Bike to taste the world’s best tacos (Mexico City, Mexico)
Le Cordon Bleu-trained Diego takes guests on a bike tour through Condesa, Mexico City’s hipster neighbourhood. Refueling pit stops include a sampling of the best baja shrimp, carnitas and duck tacos (mezcal to wash these down included).
How can your hotel boost revenue with guest experiences?
Here are some tips for offering experiences to your hotel’s guests – whether you’re located near well-known mainstream landmarks or some hidden gems off the beaten track:
Research, research, research
A quick Google search for ‘things to do’ in your town or city will reveal the key attractions that drive your guests to the area. Try to support the promotion of those activities and ask your hotel’s staff for their own favourites from the list. You could organise a research trip for your team so that your staff can recommend experiences more personally. The more you research, the more knowledgeable you will be and therefore more valuable to your guests as they seek inspiration and expertise.
Go it alone and create your own
You don’t have to be located in one of the destinations where TripAdvisor or Airbnb list their top experiences. If your property isn’t in a tourism hotspot, create your own experiences which you can sell as add ons during the checkout phase on your website. You could have a tea brewing expert on site or perhaps you have a semi-pro photographer among your hotel’s staff. Delve into their skills that go beyond traditional hospitality and experiment with different offerings showcasing the diversity you have on offer. Research similar experiences to get your price point.
Sell smart using an intuitive booking engine
Your direct booking engine or online reservation system should empower customers to explore extras such as guest experiences. Many guests at the booking stage will have done some early research around the destination and will be familiar with some of the more popular activities on offer. Use this familiarity to your advantage and create add on packages within your online booking engine. It’s a revenue quick win and gives guests one less thing to book at a later stage – convenience and price are a key consideration here.
To read more about boosting revenue – especially on your hotel’s own website with direct bookings – take the 14-day challenge from SiteMinder: https://www.siteminder.com/r/trends-advice/hotel-management-tips-ideas/how-direct-bookings-hotel-14-day-challenge/