Experiential Marketing in the Travel Industry

Cultural Experiences

Experiential Marketing in the Travel Industry–A lot of people don’t know much about the cultures in other countries, so businesses in the travel industry may want to focus on educating consumers on other cultures during their experiential marketing event.

For example, Colombia wanted people in the U.S. to know that the country was reinventing itself into a luxurious vacation destination. Instead of rebranding themselves using traditional ads, Colombia threw an experiential marketing event right in the middle of Times Square in New York. The event featured a Grammy award-winning singer from Colombia, traditional Colombian foods, and other carnival-style entertainment so people could see what Colombia had to offer. By creating this unforgettable experience, Colombia was successful in their efforts to give New Yorkers a taste of the Colombian culture. This was a great way to entice people to consider Colombia as a travel destination the next time they plan an exotic vacation.

Give Away Free Items

Consumers always respond well to free items—and many businesses in the travel industry have caught onto this fact. However, if you want to get consumers’ attention, you can’t just hand out standard branded swag at an event. You have to give them something of value—and you have to make them work for it.

The Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau wanted to promote the fact that JetBlue had recently launched a non-stop flight from New York City to Palm Springs. Instead of setting up a booth in New York City to hand out swag branded with “Palm Springs,” the visitors bureau thought outside the box. They set up two giant blocks of ice in the middle of New York City and asked residents of the city to “break out of the chill” of winter. This slogan alludes to the idea that Palm Springs is more desirable than New York during the winter because of California’s warm and sunny weather. It also referred to the fact that there were prizes frozen inside the ice blocks that were up for grabs. The people of New York crowded around the ice blocks in order to chip away at the prizes, one of which was a free trip to Palm Springs.

Think of non-traditional ways to give away free items so you aren’t just handing out t-shirts and reusable water bottles at a branded booth. Making people work for the free items is a much more memorable experience.

Focus on the Five Senses

People experience a new city or country with all five of their senses, so keep this in mind as you are planning your next experiential marketing event. There’s no better way to convince someone to book a trip to the beach than letting them hear the sound of the waves crash against the shore and allowing them to feel the sand between their toes. Figure out a way to activate all five of guests’ senses at your next event so they can essentially “try before they buy,” meaning they can experience a new destination before committing to taking a trip there.

Break Stereotypes

Many people don’t travel to certain cities, states, or countries because they believe unflattering stereotypes about the area. To increase tourism to these areas, businesses in the travel industry have to focus on breaking the stereotypes that are making the destinations seem unappealing.

Texas recently discovered that people outside of the state viewed it as a cultureless state full of cowboys and guns. The state rightly assumed that these stereotypes could be hurting their tourism industry, so they set out to break them with a Texas on Tour experiential marketing event. The tour traveled from coast to coast and introduced people across the country to the real Texas. People were invited to wear virtual reality headsets to travel the rapids of Big Bend Country canyons. They could also walk into a room with wall-to-wall green screens that displayed images of the beautiful shorelines of Texas. This event showed people that there is so much more to Texas than what they may think. As a result of the event, 50,000 people requested Texas travel guides and registered for more information on traveling to the state.


Before choosing a hotel, people visit the hotel’s website, look at photos on social media, and read online customer reviews. But, there’s no way to know what a hotel is really like until you see it in person.

Hotels have the unique opportunity to introduce consumers to their brand with pop-up shop experiences. For example, Cambria Suites designed a pop-up space that was an exact replica of their hotel suite. The pop-up was displayed at malls and airports throughout the country, and it gave potential customers an opportunity to see things they probably would have missed just by looking at photos online. People who visited the pop-up space could feel the softness of the pillows and soak up the relaxing atmosphere of the luxurious hotel suite. By bringing their hotel suite to life, Cambria Suites was able to win over new customers who may have never considered the hotel before the event.



Experiential Marketing in the Travel Industry

Experiential Marketing in the Travel Industry

Experiential Marketing for Restaurants

Experiential Marketing for Restaurants–Whether you own a fast food restaurant, a fine dining establishment, or an eatery that falls somewhere in between, you have one thing in common with every other restaurant. You’re in a great position to use experiential marketing to increase customers, customer loyalty, name recognition and more.

Why? As foodie culture has taken off in the United States and beyond, diners are clamoring to attend interesting food-related events. You can deliver by offering experiential marketing events designed especially for them.

How do you do that? We have some ideas and examples for restaurants experimenting with experiential marketing for the first time, or those looking to increase their use of this popular marketing technique.

Take food sampling up a notch

We don’t always think of product sampling as experiential marketing, but it can be. One of the most valuable aspects of experiential marketing is that it allows consumers to experience products and services with multiple senses. It also allows them to try things before they buy them. If you make all your product sampling event memorable and positive experiences for consumers, they can become wildly successful experiential marketing activations.

In recent years we’ve seen many spirit brands offer semi-private, educationally-focused tastings for consumers. For example, Jim Beam create pop-up “bars” at liquor stores in 14 major markets. Each event featured a bartender who poured bourbon samples, talked consumers through what they tasted, and asking subtle questions to determine which they liked best and how they planned to use the spirits. If the bartender was able to glean information about each consumer’s intentions, he or she could share recipes and personal recommendations on what to buy. The bartenders also encouraged consumers to sign up for a rewards program.

The result? Jim Beam saw a 68 percent increase in event sales from 2013 to 2014.

Is there a way you can add value to your tasting events? Perhaps by providing more personal service, a more exclusive experience, a chance to compare products, or opportunities to share photos on social media?

Connect with foodies by offering unique food experiences

A growing number of consumers value experiences more than materials goods. That’s certainly true when it comes to food. Create a unique food experience for these consumers and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

Arrange high-end barn dinners, wine pairing dinners or dinners with experimental dishes. Plan lectures, demos or classes where consumers can learn about the foods of a particular culture or cooking hacks from celebrity chefs. Offer consumers opportunities to tour farms, wineries, breweries or processing facilities where businesses mill local grains or shape pasta.

Just make sure all activations stick to the key elements that make experiential marketing successful. Events should allow consumers to experience products with all five senses. Taste and smell are easy for restaurants, but how can you allow consumers to experience memorable textures, sounds and sights?

Any event should offer consumers something of value – besides food. Give consumers knowledge; high-quality products that are branded or useful for cooking at home; a positive emotional experience; or a chance to meet celebrities or influencers. Help them have a positive emotional experience. You know how important customer service is in a restaurant; how can you up the customer service experience even more?

Also, make sure you incorporate social media into your experience. This will help you spread your message far beyond the event itself. People love to food porn. You, more than any business except those who feature kittens and puppies in their activations, should have no problem getting consumers to take photographs and share them with their friends on sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Make sure they’re all participating in the same conversation (and promoting you at the same time) by providing them with a hashtag or encouraging them to take photographs with your name/logo in the background.

Plan a pop-up dining experience

Eventbrite, the popular event registration and ticketing platform, did a study of food and beverage trends in 2014. They found that pop-up dining was one of the fastest-growing types of events organizers were planning.

“Pop-up dinners are one-time food events that offer guests a taste of something different,” Eventbrite shares. “Whether it’s an unexpected location, a personal interaction with the chef, or a unique menu or theme, these events cater to the ‘Experiential Diner’ – who craves not just an amazing meal, but a new and exciting dining experience.”

Experiential Marketing Predictions for 2018

Experiential Marketing in Retail

Many industry insiders have predicted that experiential marketing will become a tactic that marketers in retail cannot avoid in 2018. Getting customers to visit a store in person as opposed to shopping online is difficult. To get customers through the door, brands need to offer them a unique in-person shopping experience that they can’t get online. For this reason, many retailers have turned to experiential marketing. In 2018, retailers will begin to integrate experiential marketing into their shopping experience in order to gain a competitive advantage and keep customers engaged. Customers will no longer be left to search for items or make purchase decisions on their own when they enter a retail store. Instead, retailers will have brand ambassadors to guide customers through the experience of shopping in the store.

Letting Consumers Dictate the Brand’s Path

In the past, brands that have hosted experiential marketing events have led the conversation with consumers, but now, the roles are reversing. Brands are starting to recognize the importance of letting their customers dictate the brand’s path.

One brand that does this brilliantly is Sephora. Customers can open the Sephora app or visit the Sephora website to join groups dedicated to different cosmetic, hair, and skincare topics. In these communities, customers can swap beauty tips, ask each other questions, or share looks they’ve created with Sephora products. Sephora can then listen to what customers are talking about to determine gaps in the products and services they offer. By creating this unique platform, Sephora has given its customers a voice in the direction of their company. Without having to step in and lead the conversation, Sephora can now use customers’ comments to improve their brand and shopping experience.

Letting customers talk to you instead of talking to the customers is an important concept that can be applied to many different marketing tactics, including experiential marketing.

Open-Minded Consumers

In the early days of experiential marketing, consumers may not have understood what was happening when they attended branded events and interacted face-to-face with brand ambassadors. But now, consumers are starting to understand that brands want to connect with them in new and exciting ways. Because consumers are becoming more open-minded, brands may feel they have more freedom when it comes to planning their experiential marketing events.

For example, in the past, brands may have worried about how an in-store event would disturb customers that did not want to take part in an experiential marketing activation. Now that consumers are more open-minded about these events, brands don’t have to hold back when they plan these engaging activations. Now, they can assume that customers who come in the store will recognize that there is a branded event going on and will appreciate the effort that the brand is making to keep customers engaged.

Open-minded customers may be more willing to interact with brand ambassadors at events as well, whereas in the past they may have brushed off an ambassador’s attempt to engage. This means brands may be able to get more valuable feedback from customers and build deeper relationships with them.

Unique Venues for Experiential Marketing Events

In the past, brands hosted experiential marketing events at traditional venues such as standalone stores, music festivals, and conferences. But, as experiential marketing becomes increasingly popular, brands have to find a way to make their event stand out from a sea of others. One way that they succeed in doing this is by hosting their event in unique venue that guests will certainly remember.

Experiential Marketing Demands Unite Baby Boomers and Millennials

Experiential Marketing Demands Unite Baby Boomers and Millennials-Marketers will be well aware that the market place presents two very clear groups of consumers: the baby boomers and the millennials. It is often overlooked that these two consumer groups are closer than expected…if you think about it, the millennials are most often the children of the baby boomers and while they have separate values and interests, they can both benefit and unite through experiential marketing scenarios. Marketers who are able to present experiential marketing opportunities which appeal to these consumer groups as a family will ultimately benefit – and they are.

All consumers, regardless of the generation gap, are looking for something of value and quality and by selling a luxury or quality brand to the market via means of experiential marketing, brands can truly get their name out there and make an impact on their target audience. Brands that are able to present their consumers with a once in a lifetime experience often benefit from inviting loyal customers to special events and allowing their attendees to extend invitations to their family and friends…and this is ultimately where the baby boomers and millennials will overlap and it is hoped that both consumer groups will talk each other up.

One particular event which serves as a great example of this is that of the special event hosted by NetJets. Attendees were encouraged to invite their children and their friends as the event featured Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez as surprise performers. This provided attendees an experiential scenario to enjoy with those close to them and closed the divide between two seemingly separate consumer groups.

Another great way to close the divide between baby boomers and millennial consumers is to step up ecommerce and online media. More baby boomers are getting on board with advanced online activities and we all know just how connected millennials are already.

Want your business or brand to enjoy the benefits of experiential marketing?

we’re also a full-service experiential marketing agency

we’re also a full-service experiential marketing agency- Wait – so a food truck can be used as a sales and marketing platform? That’s right! With eye-catching custom wrapping and effective branding, a food truck is the most creative, high impact (and practical!) promotional tool for sampling and retail promotions. Trucks are ideal and cost-effective solutions for companies looking to test out new markets, launch a new product to a targeted consumer, or cater to private gatherings, fundraisers or other social events. You can also use a truck as a mobile billboard, driving brand awareness and building buzz around your company, project, or product. Mobile businesses allow for a more personalized interaction with your customer base which, in turn, increases brand loyalty.

With Sweetery, you can enhance your marketing strategy by customizing our food truck, effectively turning it into a promotional vehicle for your brand. We can also arrange for an entire fleet of trucks to be custom-made and wrapped with your company logo and branding, be it for a one-time event, or for a month-long cross country mobile marketing tour. In addition to traditional promotional vehicles, we can also arrange 3D glass (or see-through) trucks – mobile showrooms for brands seeking head-turning publicity for their product!

Over the last few years, Sweetery has executed over 100 successful marketing events for some of the nation’s most recognizable brands and in sectors as diverse as retail (Target, Nike, Bloomingdales), media (HBO, MTV, Food Network Channel) and banking (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) just to name a few. We partner with companies big and small that want to solicit authentic and lasting engagement with their target consumers.

At Sweetery, we define consumer engagement as a rewarding and positive experience that goes beyond the instant gratification of a free sample giveaway. Engagement carries over to the digital space with social media, today’s “word of mouth.” Sweetery helps you connect with your consumers online, by making your brand relevant to people’s everyday conversations. We’ll help you put together a social media marketing strategy that favors personalized one-on-one interaction over one-size-fits-all mass advertising.

Looking to increase media awareness of your brand’s event? Sweetery has a dedicated and experienced in-house PR team that can reach out to local (New York) and national media contacts to secure online, print and broadcast media coverage of your event.

From the initial event conceptualization through execution, social media awareness, media buzz building and ROI measurement, your project will be handled with great attention to detail by a team of marketing and event professionals with years of experience. We’ll work closely with your team to put together a cost effective, one-of-a-kind marketing event that drives awareness and delivers results.