Instinctively, advisors know that travelers take vacations to do things --whether that’s laying on a beach, visiting historical sites, or taking the family to a theme park.
In a report released earlier this year from Arival, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that specializes in research and events in the tours and activities market, more than four in five (85%) U.S. travelers said they visited at least one attraction on their most recent vacation.
Arival found that younger people are more likely to visit attractions than their older peers, but not by much. According to the Arival study, 88% of respondents 18-34 years old visited an attraction in the last year, versus 85% of those 35-54 years old, and 81% of those 55 years old and older.
When a traveler purchases through a travel advisor or a packaged tour, these respondents estimated that their total purchase was worth about $266 per trip, Arival said. When they purchased through their computer, they estimated they spent about $137. The highest dollar spend among respondents was through a tour operator, offline, at $367.
Arival classifies attractions as ticketed places of interest such as theme parks, amusement parks, historic sites, museums, and natural attractions including national parks and botanical gardens. Attractions also are zoos and aquariums, observatories, telescopes and observation decks with views over cityscapes and natural horizons.
In its research, Arival also found that the majority of these travelers will purchase admission tickets prior to departure, opening the door for more sales through travel agents who are trying to curate an entire vacation experience.
Breaking down the numbers further, Arival found that while all age groups are relatively interested in historic or cultural sites, monuments or landmarks, those ages 35-54 are more interested (41%) than their peers in seeing natural wonders or attractions, and least interested in visiting museums (29%). Travelers 55-plus are the most (33%) interested in visiting museums.
“Pay attention to the key demographics your attraction is most popular with, but don’t discount travelers who fall outside this group,” Arival said in the report. “Make space for travelers of all ages, as everyone is interested in visiting beautiful, culturally significant, inspiring and even thrilling places. Doing so will yield the most bookings.”
Advisors can upsell during the sales process
An encouraging finding for travel advisors is that U.S. travelers start researching their options for attractions during the sales cycle leading up to departure, an opportunity for advisors to both add value and possibly add on commissionable sales. About 28% start that research three or more months in advance, and 70% do some kind of research more than three days in advance.
But, as Arival notes, “researching early does not equate to booking early.” Two out of five attraction tickets are purchased only two days before a leisure traveler departs for their vacation. About one in ten book admission tickets three to seven days in advance of departure, and slightly less than that purchase one to four weeks in advance.
About one out of four (26%) travelers purchase attraction admission tickets through their computer, followed by 24% at an attraction’s ticket office. The third-greatest purchasing venue is at a destination’s welcome center or similar physical location (15%). Only 8% of the Arival study’s respondents said they purchased admission tickets through a travel agent or a vacation package.
Another encouraging finding for travel advisors is the low impact that online review sites and other digital travelogues have on traveler attraction interest. According to Arival, there are two primary factors driving attraction visitation: 1) Travelers want to see or visit a specific attraction, typically because it’s famous or of special interest to the traveler; and 2) The attraction is of secondary interest, but it is also convenient to include in a traveler’s schedule.
This means that travel advisor experts with in-depth experience and expertise about specific destinations can help their clients and prospects add in visits to attractions that they might not have otherwise found or been attracted to during their own research.
The September 2019 study, designed “to provide insights on the in-destination experience to help creators and sellers of attractions, activities and tours understand key trends and drivers around traveler behavior,” reached 1,000 adult U.S. travelers (18+) who in the last year took a trip 100 or more miles from home that included an overnight stay and a qualifying in-destination experience.