Thursday, November 26, 2009

All I want for Christmas is an experience

People want a holiday experience they can talk about at a dinner party rather than just another gadget – and tourism marketers need to make the most of this, a researcher from The University of Queensland says.

UQ School of Tourism senior research fellow Dr Noel Scott says many people have all the gadgets and designer clothes they need, so they start hunting around for unique tourist destinations and experiences.

The tourist destinations need to provide these people with an experience they cannot get anywhere else, Dr Scott said.

The comments come as Dr Scott prepares to release a book he edited with fellow researchers Eric Laws and Philipp Boksberger called Marketing of Tourism Experiences.

The book covers things such as wine tourism, visits to museums and national parks, design of urban precincts with tourism in mind and inter-cultural experiences.

Dr Scott said it aimed to help tourism marketers appreciate how important it was to sell their destinations as places where people could experience exciting new things.

"Wine tourism is an example of a type of experiential tourism because you get to taste it,'" he said.

"Up till now, people in marketing or in business have generally been selling products, like buying a bag of sugar. There is not much of an experience in buying a bag of sugar.

"Today people have so much money and they live in a consumer world. People are interested in brands, not just products.

"It is not just the physical product but the whole idea of the product they are buying.

"If you buy a Gucci handbag, you are not just buying a handbag. You are buying a name and a status. When you have all the brands you need, people buy experiences. These are unique.'"

It was the same in tourism, Dr Scott said.

"An experience is something you talk about afterwards at a dinner table and people are interested," he said.

"You don't talk about your hotel room or travelling by plane. An experience is emotional. It is delightful.

"You need to sell your tourism product or destination as an experience. You can stay at the Tarzan room at a particular hotel. You are not selling a room. It is an experience.'"

Some Hollywood hotels had rooms related to specific films, Dr Scott said.

Members in some Chinese tour groups are asked to take roles in a simulated wedding, alongside actors dressed in traditional clothing, he said.

"It is an example of interacting rather than viewing. It is something authentic and not just a product.''

Tourism marketing worked best when it evoked the senses and emotions and may involve providing traditional food, trinkets infused with smells or music associated with the destination, Dr Scott said.

"A physical experience can lead to an association with a destination."

Dr Scott's book is available for $134. Visit

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Copyright © 2009 The University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia

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