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US The Experiential Traveler Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the The Experiential Traveler market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

The “experiential traveler” is defined as an internet user aged 18+ who has taken at least one overnight trip for leisure purposes in the last 12 months and agrees that he or she travels to have new experiences.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Gina Cavato, a leading analyst in the Travel & Leisure sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The experiential traveler is one who seeks authentic experiences and is willing to dig deeper into a culture/location, often stepping outside the expected to move beyond his or her comfort zone. The experiential traveler also desires a truly immersive experience – whether through accommodations, dining experiences, or activities – with the goal of personal development or enrichment. Experiential travelers are vital to the travel industry, as they seek more than just an escape, they want to be transformed. Gina Cavato
Travel & Leisure Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Figure 1: Attitudes toward travel experiences, February 2018
        • The issues
          • The dichotomy of the experiential traveler
            • Figure 2: Travel experiences, February 2018
          • Business travel accounts for 20% of domestic trips
            • Figure 3: Total domestic person-trips*, 2018
          • The opportunities
            • Need for expert curation in experiential travel
              • Figure 4: Destination inspiration, February 2018
            • Innovative concepts and branding in accommodations
              • Business travel – Wellness counts
                • Figure 5: Travel experiences have done or plan to do, February 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Experiential travel contributing to overall growth in vacation and tourism
                  • Business trips can embrace experiential travel too
                    • Experiential travel appeals across traveler segmentation groups
                      • Budget, luxury, and everything in between
                        • Positive economic conditions cultivate growth in travel market
                          • Population growth and generation influence travel
                          • Market Trends

                            • State of the travel industry
                              • Figure 6: Best- and worst-case forecast value sales of vacations and tourism, at current prices, 2012-22
                            • Consumers have high engagement when it comes to vacation planning
                              • Figure 7: Category engagement – Vacations and tourism, February 2018
                            • Consumers want each vacation experiences to be unique
                              • Figure 8: Attitudes toward travel experiences, Summer 2017
                            • Leisure domestic trips outnumber those for business
                              • Figure 9: Total domestic person-trips*, 2015-20
                            • Traveler segmentation: Explorers, Adventurers, and Relaxers
                              • Figure 10: Travel experiences, by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                          • Market Perspective

                            • The role of experience across the travel spectrum
                              • Budget travel
                                • Luxury travel
                                  • Package travel
                                    • Business travel and “bleisure”
                                    • Market Factors

                                        • Positive DPI supports consumers’ ability to fund travel experiences
                                          • Figure 11: Disposable personal income change from previous period, January 2007-December 2017
                                        • High consumer confidence bodes well for discretionary travel market
                                          • Figure 12: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-January 2018
                                        • Population growth is favorable for market
                                          • Figure 13: Population aged 18 or older, by age, 2013-23
                                        • Shifts in travel by generation
                                          • Figure 14: Population aged 18 or older, by generation, 2018
                                        • Asian population important for travel marketers
                                          • Figure 15: Total population by race and Hispanic origin, 2013-23
                                          • Figure 16: Median household income by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2016
                                      • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                        • Upscale authentic experiences appeal to budget and luxury travelers
                                          • Hotels focus on upscale experiences in niche markets
                                            • Mass tourism provides platform for the experiential traveler
                                              • Expect more offerings targeting the experiential traveler
                                              • What’s Working?

                                                • Upscaling experiences
                                                  • Airbnb growing its collection of Experiences
                                                    • Pure Adventures offer authentic “Trail to Table” tours
                                                      • Excellence Resorts continue on a path to more luxury
                                                        • EVEN Hotels incorporates wellness travel for business travelers
                                                        • What’s Struggling?

                                                          • The ideal of experiential travel vs. the dangers of overtourism
                                                          • What’s Next?

                                                            • Expanding the breadth and depth of experiential travel opportunities
                                                              • Spotlight: Cruising hits all the right marks
                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                • Preference for new, unique experiences is a common pursuit in travel
                                                                  • Travel experiences shape identity
                                                                    • Accommodations are important to overall vacation experience
                                                                      • Accommodations for future travel in question
                                                                        • Personal recommendations provide destination inspiration
                                                                          • Local recommendations have more influence for activities
                                                                          • Interest in Travel Experiences

                                                                            • Explore new places and time with family/friends are top travel interests
                                                                              • Figure 17: Travel experiences, February 2018
                                                                            • Young travelers most likely to leave their comfort zone
                                                                              • Figure 18: Interest in leaving comfort zone and being off the grid, by age, February 2018
                                                                              • Figure 19: Interest in visiting famous places and learning about new cultures, by age, February 2018
                                                                            • Asians skew toward experiential travel
                                                                              • Figure 20: Interest in trying new things, exploring new places, and learning about different cultures, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2018
                                                                            • The Explorer represents the heart of the experiential traveler
                                                                              • Figure 21: Travel experiences, by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                          • Travel Experiences Shape Identity

                                                                              • Figure 22: Travel experiences as part of identity, February 2018
                                                                            • 25-44s are most likely to say travel experiences shape their identity
                                                                              • Figure 23: Travel experiences as part of identity (net agree), by age, February 2018
                                                                            • Explorers say their travel experiences shape who they are
                                                                              • Figure 24: Travel experiences as part of identity (net agree), by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                          • Travelers Prefer New Destinations and Local Experiences

                                                                              • Figure 25: Travel preferences, February 2018
                                                                            • Younger age groups prefer home shares
                                                                              • Figure 26: Travel preferences (net agree), by age, February 2018
                                                                            • Explorers prefer the immersive travel experience
                                                                              • Figure 27: Travel preferences (net agree), by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                          • Valuing Experiences over Things

                                                                              • Figure 28: Attitudes toward travel, February 2018
                                                                            • Younger age groups are most likely to travel to keep up with peers
                                                                              • Figure 29: Attitudes toward travel (net agree), by age, February 2018
                                                                            • Adventurers want to experience new things – just not alone
                                                                              • Figure 30: Attitudes toward travel (net agree), by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                          • Most Important to Vacation Experiences

                                                                            • Accommodations are most important to vacation experience
                                                                              • Figure 31: Important factors in vacation experiences, February 2018
                                                                            • Older travelers more likely to place importance on accommodations
                                                                              • Figure 32: Importance of accommodations in vacation experiences, by age, February 2018
                                                                              • Figure 33: Importance of entertainment, outdoor and tourist activities in vacation experiences, by age February 2018
                                                                          • Travel Experiences – Have Done or Plan to Do

                                                                            • Lodging plans are up in the air
                                                                              • Figure 34: Lead time for booking hotel/accommodations, April 2018
                                                                              • Figure 35: Travel experiences have done or plan to do, February 2018
                                                                            • Under-35s are looking for something different in future travel plans
                                                                              • Figure 36: Travel experiences plan to do – Active and different, by age, February 2018
                                                                            • Asians focus on activities for future travel plans
                                                                              • Figure 37: Travel experiences plan to do – Urban and active, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2018
                                                                            • Explorers plan to get the local experience when they travel
                                                                              • Figure 38: Travel experiences plan to do, by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                          • Destination Inspiration

                                                                            • Personal recommendations drive destination choice
                                                                                • Figure 39: Destination inspiration, February 2018
                                                                              • Destination inspiration sources by age predictable
                                                                                • Figure 40: Destination inspiration – Social, by age, February 2018
                                                                              • Travel websites influences higher earners
                                                                                • Figure 41: Destination inspiration – Travel review sites and social media, by household income, February 2018
                                                                              • Adventurers rely on personal recommendations for destination planning
                                                                                • Figure 42: Destination inspiration, by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                            • Activity Inspiration

                                                                              • Local recommendations have more influence in activities
                                                                                • Figure 43: Activity inspiration, February 2018
                                                                              • Social media influences activity inspiration among young travelers
                                                                                • Figure 44: Activity inspiration, by age, February 2018
                                                                              • Explorers leverage social media for activity inspiration
                                                                                • Figure 45: Activity inspiration, by consumer segmentation, February 2018
                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                              • Data sources
                                                                                • Sales data
                                                                                  • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                      • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                        • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                            • Terms
                                                                                            • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                              • Vacation activities of interest
                                                                                                  • Figure 46: Select vacation activities like to do, by gender, summer 2017
                                                                                                  • Figure 47: Select vacation activities like to do, by age, Summer 2017
                                                                                                  • Figure 48: Select vacation activities like to do, by household income, Summer 2017