Despite Desire to Go Off the Beaten Path, Travelers Want Iconic Experiences

by Richard D’Ambrosio

Immersive, new experiences are trending, but many of the world’s iconic sites remain high on the bucket lists of global travelers.

According to TripAdvisor, priority access trips to the Eiffel Tower’s summit were the most popular with U.S. travelers in 2017, followed by a “Skip-the-line” tour of the ancient Mmonuments of Rome and a similar special access to Gaudi's Casa Batlló in Barcelona.

Rounding out the top five, according to TripAdvisor, were skip-the-line passes to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe and the Florence Accademia Gallery, including Michelangelo's. Alternative destinations included a full-day tour of Abu Dhabi City (6th), a Jewish Quarter Anne Frank Walking Tour in Amsterdam (7th) and a live Nashville Walking Tour (9th).

Additionally, US bookings placed cooking classes and food tours in the top ten, growing 51 percent and 49 percent respectively last year. An interactiveSpanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona where travelers learn to make paella and Spanish tapas with a local chef, and a guided Street Food Tour in Rome with pizza, pastries, and sightseeing, were among the fastest growing experiences for US and global travelers, TripAdvisor said.

“Historical and heritage experiences may have topped the list of fastest-growing categories for US travelers (98 percent share of total bookings), but aquatic activities dominated the top ten, taking half of the top spots. Sunset cruises (89 percent in bookings), snorkeling (64 percent), sailing trips (55 percent), catamaran cruises (51 percent), and kayaking and canoeing experiences (49 percent) all ranked in the year's fastest-growing categories.

Most popular experiences are based on bookings in 2017, for products under $150 USD per person. Fastest growing experiences and categories are based on year-over-year growth in bookings from 2016 to 2017. Most popular new products are based on experiences added between April 2016 and April 2017 and ranked by bookings between April 2017 and December 2017. 

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I do think there are possibilities for traveler advisors to make money doing domestic trips. I charge a planning fee for my time and expertise, and then book commissionable hotels and activities that meet the client’s needs.

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