When you boil down such expressions to their essence, they all really mean one thing, which can loosely be described as ‘travel done properly.’ So do we really need any more terms? Many websites and blogs out there love to elaborate on that notion in various ways. I myself could argue a good case to have ‘adventure travel’ added to the list, and if I had it my way I’d also add ‘much better travel.’ But that would be a bit facetious of me.
Whatever you want to call ‘it,’ I feel very proud to be part of a travel sector that seems to be fast transitioning from a ‘niche’ to an enterprise with a seat at the top table. It is quickly gaining strength in all corners of the travel world, from cruising and business to package tours and backpacking. I guess it is only natural that as ‘it’ spreads its wings, new ways of expressing ‘it’ keep cropping up.
Perhaps one day we will reach a golden moment when we can quit naming it ‘experiential travel’ or anything else, and simply go back to calling it ‘travel.’ At that instant, finally, a global understanding of what is truly great about going on holiday will be embodied in a single word. We will look back on the era of mass travel and laugh at how naïve we were. We will revel in how enlightened we have become and give ourselves good slaps on the back. We may even amuse ourselves by watching near-extinct travel dinosaurs try to differentiate themselves by unveiling their exclusive new range of ‘non-experiential travel packages.’ Ah, that will be the day.
It’s not that I don’t like the current terms. It’s just that I keep finding myself wondering if anyone really cares. Of course, as someone who runs a travel website, I care, insofar as making sure I am using the right words to communicate effectively with prospective customers. But do any significant numbers of travellers have any preference between terms like experiential travel, local travel, responsible travel and the like? I don’t believe so. Other than a very discerning few, I doubt they even know what they might mean, let alone care.
If ever there was a time and place where actions speak louder than words, then surely this is it. The experiences, and the way they are delivered, are definitely more important than the labels we give them.
So until we can start just calling travel ‘travel ‘ again, shall we just get on with having a damn good time, and making sure the people and places we visit are the main beneficiaries of an industry that’s on the rise?