Louisisana Tourism Conference 2007

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A checklist for crafting memorable experiential travel programs. A handout to accompany the 2007 conference presentation.

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Louisisana Tourism Conference 2007

  1. 1. Louisiana Travel and Tourism Summit, 10 Jan 2007 Produced by: Dr. Nancy Arsenault, Chief Experience Officer nancy@arsenaultprojectsolutions.ca 1 A CHECKLIST FOR BUILDING MEMORABLE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES Experiential travel programmers must go beyond merely booking hotels, transportation, meals, attractions and events. They must think holistically about the entire visitor experience, and where in the travel itinerary your experience fits! Experiential travel involves taking goods and services to a new level by layering them with sensory phenomena that engage the senses. By carefully choreographing commodities, goods, services and experiences you can truly transform travel to niche audiences. Experiential travel planners are masters at knowing their ‘ideal guests’, paying attention to detail, and thinking of visitors as individual guests, rather than market segments. There is no exact prescription, but the following checklist outlines key elements you must consider if you are an experiential travel provider (typically individuals and organizations) or a experiential travel packager (typically a tour operator).  Know the qualities and interests of your ‘Ideal Guest’ – have a customer profile for every program/package; know how they would describe themselves, the images that would resonate with them if they were surfing the Internet for vacation information.  Select a theme that will guide and harmonize the activities that could be included in the tour.  Determine the types of experiences your can offer directly to the market or as part of a travel package.  Identify a range of activities, attractions, places and resource specialists that could be built into the tour at each destination you plan to visit. Then plan how to make these ‘experiences’.  Confirm the ideal group size, opportunities and limitations of your customers (e.g. walking limitations, time, and language).
  2. 2. Louisiana Travel and Tourism Summit, 10 Jan 2007 Produced by: Dr. Nancy Arsenault, Chief Experience Officer nancy@arsenaultprojectsolutions.ca 2  Evaluate and make decisions on each individual activity and the overall itinerary factoring in the balance of planned vs. unstructured, active vs. passive activities and take into account the importance of free time and physical requirements/limitations.  Assess what is needed to set the stage, prepare the visitor, and ensure a harmonious link of activities to the theme. Also, determine what information the guides and specialists will need.  Select travel suppliers that understand what you are trying to achieve for your visitors and whose image and affiliation with the tour will reflect positively on your company. o Select accommodations, dining venues, attractions, and retail businesses that complement the theme and may expose travelers to less traveled, less-known places thus creating a sense of intimacy and the feeling of a unique experience. o Select knowledgeable and personable tour guides and tour directors that are resourceful and have good networks in the communities being visited. o Select local resource people, and those that will join the entire tour, for their knowledge, ability to entertain and communicate effectively with travelers. o Select transportation providers that are flexible and will support the activities and experiences being planned, not attempt to alter them due to ‘traditional schedules or travel times’. o Explore how affinity groups/organizations within your community could add unique value to the tour that will differentiate your offer and create an experience few others will enjoy unless they travel with your organization. For example, alumni organizations may help you gain special access to unique venues; community groups such as quilters, running clubs, equestrian riders, and gourmet clubs can open doors to interesting local people and places.  Create an experience-planning sheet that details all the key elements of the program and include coaching tips for new business partners and suppliers. Included: date, program length, program description, experience description, participant limitations, props required, key messages, venue details, clothing needs, detailed program itinerary, memorable factors/memorabilia to be included, coaching tip reminder, safety considerations, images to remember by, web promotion tips ideas, tips on how to make relevant, and what information do guests need before they travel.
  3. 3. Louisiana Travel and Tourism Summit, 10 Jan 2007 Produced by: Dr. Nancy Arsenault, Chief Experience Officer nancy@arsenaultprojectsolutions.ca 3  Select memorabilia for your visitors and build this into the individual experience or tour.  Cost all elements of the tour, set the rates, and then critically assess if there will be any value added features included that will impact costs or will be offered on a ‘pay as you play’ basis. Ensure a saleable price point, profit margin, and experience premium for that UFE – unforgettable experience.  Determine the core marketing messages and images that will attract your “Ideal Guest” be that mass, custom, or niche markets. Use the experience to sell the tour and create the unique selling proposition against competitors. Think ‘experiential marketing, not traditional marketing. Select promotional images and keywords for specific markets; plan how you will enhance word-of-mouth promotions.  Deliver a premium travel experience that provides value for money and an unforgettable experience!  Before, during and after the trip, select ways to connect personally with each visitor to gain testimonials, obtain or share photos and trip journals, or send personal and set the stage for the next invitation to participate.  After your guest depart, meet with your experience providers, program and packaging partners to assess how things went for everyone from a business-to-business perspective to determine if: o the program was delivered as everyone anticipated, the guests were delighted and to discuss evolutions that will enhance the program for the next time; o there were any negative or positive experiences, unanticipated challenges or opportunities that could be amended to improve future programs and guest experiences; and o each partner and supplier received the benefits their organization anticipated and is interested in continued collaboration.

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