The travel industry was one of the first to embrace the power of digital media. From booking hotels to finding flights to reserving rental cars, almost every travel need can be met online. The internet has made it possible for people to hop on a plane and explore the world on a whim.
And the rapid advancement of smartphone technology has made travel even more accessible to consumers; last year, 24% of online bookings in the United States were conducted via smartphone. However, regardless of how exotic or alluring a vacation may seem, travelers (and especially young travelers) lose interest if a trip is not easy to plan or facilitate.
Although the travel industry in general seems to be on the cutting edge of digital booking trends, there’s one area within the industry that has fallen sorely behind: excursions. Think back to the last time you took a vacation. You likely booked your flights, hotel rooms and rental cars from your laptop or smartphone—possibly even in the same sitting.
You may have even preplanned your dining schedule using platforms like Opentable. But when it came to planning your day-to-day activities and adventures, there’s a good chance you had to go the old-fashioned route and make a phone call to a local business, or even ask your hotel’s concierge desk for help.
This scenario plays out far too often in cities across the world, and it results in a lot of frustration for travelers. In fact, individuals sometimes forgo their original vacation plans and visions because contacting local excursion companies via outdated websites or spending 30 minutes on hold is just not worth the hassle.
Luckily for today’s travelers, there’s a growing startup looking to ease the burden of adventure booking and help travelers add excitement to their vacations. Adventure Bucket List was born out of necessity: founder Ryan Stobie realized that there was no easy way to help his friends and family book local experiences.
After having personally experienced the frustration of contacting small businesses with outdated booking systems, Stobie realized that there was an immediate need to bring excursion businesses online and easily connect them to eager visitors.
Adventure Bucket List is dedicated to helping small tour and activity operators grow and manage their businesses through an intuitive online platform. Today the startup is leading countrywide initiatives with governments across Southeast Asia and the South Pacific to empower travelers to explore destinations that are off the beaten path and enable local providers to connect with new customers and grow their businesses.
Until recently, cutting-edge travel solutions were mostly confined to large organizations like hotels and transportation companies. But the real travel experience often comes from smaller interactions with local businesses and entrepreneurs who know the area and understand how to give visitors a real glimpse into the landscape and the culture.
As technology progresses, and millennial travelers continue to demand more immediacy and connectivity, local businesses will be able to more easily connect with interested visitors. Furthermore, they’ll save a tremendous amount of time and money that had previously been dedicated to communicating with customers and manually managing reservations.
It’s true that for years small tourism businesses have been able to get by through word of mouth and passersby wandering into their storefronts, but this small business niche cannot afford to maintain this status quo, especially as millennials and Gen Zers accrue more travel spending power and influence shifts in travel behavior.
Here are a few ways young consumers are already approaching travel differently:
But the differences transcend inter-office politics and financial priorities; mMillennialsand Gen Zers crave adventure across all aspects of their life. For these digital natives, experiencing the world is far more important than buying products. In fact, 70% of millennials admit that funding travel is their primary motivation for working.
This is a generation of travelers who are not satisfied with visiting an all-inclusive resort and drinking piña coladas all day—at any rate, not for the entirety of their vacations! Rather, they want to immerse themselves in new cultures and experience how people from different parts of the world really live. In many ways, the internet has made the world a much smaller place.
Younger generations grew up with access to photos and videos of foreign places and sites, and as a result of this access and connectivity, they’re not satisfied with merely sitting on the sidelines—they want to go one step further and experience those photos and videos in real life.
The Rise Of Social FOMO
It goes without saying that Millennials and Gen Zers are obsessed with social media. From liking photos on Instagram to sending Snaps to scrolling through their Facebook news feeds, this generation is always logged in. In fact, Gen Zers are reportedly more influenced by socially shared pictures and videos of travel adventures and destinations than previous generations.
Gen Z life is affected by social media, and that includes the way they travel. In addition to experiencing new cities and adrenaline-inducing adventures for themselves, they want their friends and social circles to know just how exciting and adventurous they are. They accomplish this by posting a constant stream of content to their social profiles.
The social media culture has essentially created a mindset that demands travel sharing: if there isn’t an Instagram photo or a Snap story to prove it, did the experience really happen? When this demographic travels, on the one hand they’re looking for new life experiences, and on the other hand, they’re looking for new ways to outdo their friends by being more adventurous and going even further off the beaten path.
The only problem is that, in many locations, it’s difficult for them to find and book a local tour operator or bungee-jumping facilitator because these small companies often don’t leverage sophisticated, mobile-enabled booking systems.
There’s no going backward. Gen Zers have already changed the travel game forever, and now it’s time for all travel-related businesses to step up and meet the demands of this demographic. Young travelers are only going to become more socially focused and more intent on discovering new adventures that their Instagram friends haven’t already uploaded.