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NIKKI WHITE


Authenticity is the new watchword


The travel industry’s favourite columnist


ALL ABOUT YOU — COMMENT


NIKKI WHITE head of destination sustainability, Abta


We’re getting ready for the peak summer season here at Abta and as millions of consumers head off on their holidays they’ll continue to have the same core concerns around quality, value and safety. But what they will also be mindful of is the authenticity of their experience. Interestingly, more and more UK consumers now want to know that they are getting an experience that complements local culture. Our own research, and research recently conducted by the Travel Foundation, shows that people want authenticity when it comes to their holidays. This presents a challenge but also a very useful opportunity to both operators and suppliers.


Cost and authenticity Value for money is always a constant in consumer demand, but with increasing importance being placed on authenticity, the industry needs to come up with ways to combine these two


things. Doing so will encourage customers to come back time and time again. But how does it work in practice? For hoteliers, offering authentic experiences involves focusing on local elements that help the hotel to stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Local workers, culture, communities and environments should all be seen as assets that need to be both safeguarded by hoteliers and embedded into the customer experience. Abta’s Travelife sustainability system for hotels and accommodations helps make this a reality. Having


recently reviewed its criteria, there’s now a heightened focus on local elements such as work forces, local goods and produce, and protection and promotion of cultural and natural heritage.


Focus on local elements For tour operators, focusing on activities that customers enjoy and linking these to local elements can help give an authentic feel. Linking excursions and activities


to areas of cultural significance, including restaurants and local dishes, and really giving customers a taste of the destination can be a great way to improve the


Local workers, communities and


environments should all be seen as assets that need to be embedded into the customer experience


customer experience. Highlighting these elements in the sale of excursions and activities gives your customers extra reasons to book with you. Through the knowledge of staff in the industry these experiences can be sold to customers in the UK before they even reach the destination. By integrating authentic elements into their sales dialogue, agents can whet their customers’ appetites and help ensure they feel compelled to book. Abta’s How to Sell Better Places guide provides plenty of inspiration on how this can be done. And, as more hotels join Travelife and reach the gold standard of sustainable practices, the range of authentic experiences will be more readily available than ever before.


For more columns by Nikki White, go to travelweekly.co.uk


28 • travelweekly.co.uk — 26 June 2014


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