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Experiential Travel Is Booming

Skier KC Dean trying local cuisine in Japan Nozawa Onsen

As people learn that happiness can come from spending money on experiences, rather than material things.

‘Life’s too short’ is an age-old saying, but never has it been more relevant today when our work/life balance has become blurred and people are searching further for an experience that goes beyond the cover of the travel brochure.

If you haven’t heard of experiential travel, then it’s high time you did. Also known as ‘immersion travel’, experiential travel is a form of tourism where the focus is on experiencing a place by actively engaging with its history, people, culture, food and environment. The trend is booming, and it can often be transformative which is why it’s considered more of a movement in the direction of authenticity and honouring of cultural traditions, than a passing fad.

Gone are the days when travellers are content to simply be in a country, visit its landmarks and enjoy its scenery. The experiential travel movement illustrates a deeper desire to connect with a place and return home with more than a photo album, but memories of time spent immersed in a new culture and enriched with knowledge from an activity steeped in history or tradition.

Skiing through ice caves, stomping grapes in the vineyard, learning how to make Japanese Mochi sweets and mountain biking through a World Heritage Park may sound amazing, but these experiences can be surprisingly hard to come by.

The digital age and social media have a firm grip on our attention and every day we are inundated with idyllic images of travellers immersed in a foreign culture; breathing in the space around them, tasting, learning, ‘doing’… experiencing.

We are all hungry for something different.

Unfortunately, for your average online package deal tourist, gaining access to these intimate experiences is nearly impossible. Travelers today want greater control, more flexibility and a more personalised trip than what regular online travel agencies are providing. With the reality of fake reviews, over publicised destinations, flash deals and misleading alerts of ‘limited availability’ – people are losing confidence in what the online travel behemoths are selling. With good reason.

It’s no surprise that people have turned to boutique travel agencies to design their experience around the unique goals of their group. Personalised, agile and uniquely flexible around the needs of the guest – small travel specialists are extremely well connected with local ‘insiders’ and contacts to ensure the guest connects authentically with the heartbeat of the place they are visiting.

By nature, a ski holiday is a classic example of experiential travel, but every skier knows that ski resorts can be a hive of foreigners and crowds of people all trying to do the same thing at the same time! For those in search of something unique, it can be underwhelming at best.

Nickie Mabey, Founder of Mabey Ski, has watched the experiential travel movement evolve from within the industry and created a new type of ski trip — the ski adventure. Guests are given the opportunity to experience their chosen destination like a local — ski with larger-than-life local guides who know where to find secret powder stashes, ice skate on a frozen lake at the end of a long ski day, and unwind in a mountainside hot spring away from the crowds. Because the adventure shouldn’t end when the slope does…


Got a wild idea or looking for inspiration? You’ve come to the right place…
Get in touch to start dreaming up your ski adventure.