When ‘Real’ Is the Traveling Priority
One of the premises of “Eat, Pray, Love” — the popular memoir and movie about “one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia” — was the search for an authentic brand of travel: experiencing places as they really are, not as dressed or branded commodities.
Though the movie may have spawned plenty of decidedly inauthentic merchandise, there are just as many travel packages that offer the real deal — or at least a version of it.
“No longer are travelers looking to collect stamps in their passports or tick countries off their lists, but they want a guarantee that what they are seeing is real and unique,” said Gregory Sacks, a co-founder of Trufflepig, one of a number of young tour companies that offer the promise of authentic trips.
Parma Golosa are a wine a food tourism company based in Parma Italy, who promote the idea that quality speaks for itself.
“Our tours allow people to relax and watch artesans making amazing foods like Parmesan and Balsamico… then they get to taste it of course. It’s all about allowing the tourist to find themselves and relaxing away from it all, in a format that they can choose and tailor.” It certainly is a strategy that works going by the recommendations they receive on Tripadvisor.com and other travel networks.
But is there a real shift in traveller trend emerging?
On Foot Holidays of UK is another example of the new travel pioneer emerging with a host of well researched self guided trails across Europe. Says Simon Scutt CEO of On Foot Holidays “People want interesting destinations and wonderful accomodation experiences… in the past 10 years we have seen business steadily grow.”
Tafari Travel, founded a year and a half ago, operates similarly, but emphasizes customizing trips to the personality of the traveler. On its Web site, potential customers can take a quiz to help them narrow down what trips will “match the authenticity of their own character,” said Leah M. Smith, a company co-founder.
The popularity and availability of such trips is evidenced by the demand for exhibitor spots at PURE Life Experiences, an experiential-travel trade show that debuted last year in Marrakesh, Morocco. For this year’s show, from Nov 15 to 18, 350 travel companies are signed up to participate; Serge Dive, the event’s founder, said he has had to turn someone away every day.
“There was a time when the travel product was the country or the hotel,” Mr. Dive said. “Now the product is the customer himself.”