Retail

Tapping Into Experiential Marketplaces To Turn Expertise Into Adventure

Travel Entrepreneurs

From yoga retreats in Mongolia to brown bear watching in Romania, experiential platforms are connecting tour organizers with travelers hungry for adventurous excursions. Fixers, among other platforms, comes as part of a huge movement from a new generation of travel entrepreneurs: “They are creating a completely unique set of experiences,” Fixers Founder and Chief Creative Officer Lisa Simpson told PYMNTS.com in an interview.

Today, Simpson believes it’s easier than ever before to build a brand online with tools like Instagram and Facebook. And entrepreneurs from many different verticals are tapping into their expertise to offer unique destination experiences for travelers.

Among many examples, she has seen DJs creating music festivals, artists and chefs in London creating events in Tuscany and fitness influencers offering retreats around the U.K. Fixers seeks to be part of this movement by helping entrepreneurs share their passions through experiences, much like Etsy opened the door to craftspeople showcasing their work online.

Of course, entrepreneurs can market and sell their experiences through many different channels on the internet. But while platforms such as Shopify and Squarespace may be better suited to items like T-shirts and candles, Simpson said, they are not ideal for finding and booking experiences and events. Customers are tired of searching for experiences across multiple generic websites, Simpson said: Instead, they want to be able to find and book completely unique trips in one place. The idea behind Fixers is to create the “everything store” for travel, much like Amazon originally sought to create the everything store for books.

Targeted Experiences

To enable them to offer the right unique and customized experiences, Fixers wants to get to know its customers when they join the site. During customer onboarding, the platform asks around 30 different questions to find out what travelers like and how much they want to spend on their experiences.

Fixers sees millennials as their target market, as they tend to prefer experiences over things. (Millennials make up about a third of the U.S. population and the majority of the workforce, Forbes reported.)  This audience might go out for a night out on the town on Friday, but they might want to go to a yoga class on Saturday morning. “This is how they want to travel,” Simpson said.

Simpson is seeing a shift in the way people think about travel. While previous generations might have considered a destination first, this one has a different mindset: “They want to collect the experiences, not the destinations,” Simpson said. That means travelers don’t say they want to go to Bali; they want to go to a yoga retreat in Bali. To purchase these experiences, customers can book through the seller directly or through the platform’s own global marketplace, and can book everything for their trip in one place.

In terms of experiences, Fixers is currently focused on the music, wellness and adventure segments. That said, Simpson said the platform seeks to be vertical-agonistic, and aims to have people apply to have all sorts of experiences on the site. Fixers offers a diverse mix, ranging from Krav Maga martial arts trips to trail running experiences and even hip-hop parties in Santorini.

In addition to giving consumers unique experiences, the site also caters to sellers who are dedicated to building their ventures. “This is their passion and their business,” Simpson said, adding that these excursions are not created in a seller’s spare time.

Similar to Fixers, IfOnly also offers a range of experiences, such as paragliding and walking tours. The idea is to take the manual aspect out of booking unique experiences – a task that once might have required a concierge – along with everyday experiences that consumers might find on other platforms. Home-sharing platform Airbnb, too, has been getting into the segment with Experiences, its initiative to enable small businesses, entrepreneurs and community non-profits to create immersive experiences for travelers.

IfOnly is currently working to help customers discover their own cities. The hope is that after experiencing a local activity, travelers will use the site in other cities they may visit. Airbnb is focused on helping customers find not just a home away from home for the day, week or month, but also an Instagram-worthy vacation experience. Fixers also offers accommodations for experiences like bear watching.

Regardless of the platform, these types of marketplaces can open the doors to unique, once-in-a-lifetime adventures provided by entrepreneurs.

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