Immersion has been a buzzword around tourism for a long time. It’s also called experiential travel. But few destinations lend themselves to immersive travel as well as the US, especially among Australians it seems.
In an interview with Karryon, Brand USA Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Staci Mellman said that post-pandemic particularly, travellers to the US were looking for immersive experiences – and in more ways than one.
Mellman calls this “localisation with intention”.
“I think that’s a big one, right … that travellers recognize that their dollars or currency has spending power, and so they’re very intentional when they go to the market; they’re wanting to spend it on local guides, local shops, local restaurants because that directly helps the local community,” she says.
“I think we’re also seeing some more focus on voluntourism – going and actually doing something to make the community a better place than where you found it.”
In other words, cultural and financial immersion.
But there’s another type of travel that often gets overlooked in the discussion around experiential tourism, and that is an immersion into nature.
And Brand USA gets that Aussies are for the large part just as at home in the great outdoors as they are surrounded by people and urban experiences.
This forms a major part of the reason why Brand USA is focusing on enticing Australian travellers to America’s natural wonders, of which there is no shortage.
“Just really being able to get out and see the beauty [in the US] and experience nature in a way that looks a bit different than their home country,” she explains.
And some of the most untapped regions among US-bound Aussie travellers would be perfect for that natural immersion.
Specifically, Mellman flags the Great West regions like Utah, and Colorado, where “I’d like to see more Australians experience winter sport in the US”.
Wellness … with a little bit of luxury
This ties in nicely with another trend around wellness travel.
“Travel is great for our own well-being … it helps us be more creative, more inspired, more connected to ourselves, and I think that during the pandemic we all recognized that travel wasn’t necessarily a luxury; it became a necessity in our lives.”
Another trend that Brand USA is seeing among Australian travellers in particular is an interest in sports tourism, a wave the organisation is hoping to tap into.
“Sports tourism is huge. I think the way that we do sports in the US is unlike anywhere in the world: from tailgating experiences to just the entertainment that happens at the game … just to be out there and focus on your well-being.”
Luxury experiences are also booming among Australian travellers, which has led Brand USA to partner with Luxury Escapes.
“We see luxury as not only just the luxury experience of a hotel but really about a bespoke experience. And I think there’s a lot of that, that is available within the United States.”
“You know, a private tour of an art museum or a chef’s table at a winery. Those kinds of experiences are really unique and I think of interest to the Australian market.”
Most Aussies want more…
Florida-based Mellman also says that around 75 per cent of Australian travellers to the US are repeat visitors, which comes back to Brand USA’s long-term vision for the Aussie market.
“We are the nation’s storytellers. So we want to tell the most amazing stories that entice those visitors to want to come to the United States. And then come back … and then come back again,” Mellman explains.
“It’s not just a one-and-done destination!”
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