Travellers are demanding more immersive, local and engaging experiences during their holidays, a representative from award-winning Phare Circus told a packed audience of industry leaders at the Arival | Activate conference in Bangkok.
At the event, Craig Dodge, Director of Sales and Marketing, said the type of experiences Phare offers have had to shift to meet this new demographic – and he is urging other tour companies to do the same.
“Travellers want to enjoy engaging, authentic and local experiences, while also making a positive impact on the communities they visit,” Dodge said.
“We’re now shifting away from just offering tickets to shows. We’re enabling guests to directly fund the development of local facilities, such as schools, through our Phare Performing Social Enterprise. We urge other tour companies to rethink their offerings or risk being left behind.”
To cater to this growing trend and attract more visitors, Phare has switched its food and beverage offerings from a sit-down restaurant to a Cambodian street food experience with stalls positioned around the venue to explore.
It also offers circus arts workshops that give visitors the chance to engage with artists and learn basic circus techniques. In addition, it has developed ‘Phare Insider’ taking visitors backstage to learn about the programme and explore the artist, costume and technician work areas.
“Experience providers should do some careful self-examination to see how they can make their offerings better for travellers and better for the local community. Both will become strong selling points,” Dodge added.
“They should take control of their brand and sales with a strong website that has instant booking capability, then balance with a diversified distribution network of OTAs, DMCs, agents and local partners. They should not depend too heavily on any one channel besides their own, or they risk losing control.”
Arival | Activate, took place from June 12 to 14, and saw hundreds of leaders from the experiences industry – tours, activities and attractions – gather to delve into the major trends shaping travel’s third-largest and fastest-growing sector.
“We’ve seen significantly increased interest in our Activate event this year, signalling a new growth opportunity for the experiences sector,” Douglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival, said in a press release.
“Traveller expectations and behaviour have changed dramatically in Asia and Oceania since the pandemic. Experiences are now a primary driver of travel, with three in five Gen-Z and Millennial travellers prioritising experiences over things. There’s a huge opportunity for tour companies that can understand this new landscape and give travellers what they want.”