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The Most Popular Travel Experiences of 2017

The Most Popular Travel Experiences of 2017

NEEDHAM, Mass.—TripAdvisor this week shared its top travel trend report for the experiences segment. The company’s bookings data revealed that iconic sites remain wildly popular, while travelers are expanding their horizons and bringing growth to new, non-traditional and experiential categories.

“We’re seeing more travelers balancing their itineraries with a mix of classic sightseeing and more unique local experiences,” says Laurel Greatrix, director of communications for TripAdvisor. “Of course travelers heading to Rome want to explore the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, but they’re also booking experiences like food tours to enhance their trip, and see the city like a local.”

 

Iconic Landmarks and Sites Remain the Most Booked

Travelers are becoming increasingly interested in new experiences, but they’re still loyal to the world’s most iconic sites. In 2017, the most-booked experiences globally were a combined skip-the-line pass for the Vatican Museums, St. Peters, and Sistine Chapel, the Chicago River Architecture Cruise, and a skip-the-line pass for a walking tour of Ancient Rome and the Colosseum. Bookable options for The Sagrada Familia, Eiffel Tower, and the Empire State Building also featured in the top 10.

The World’s Most Popular Experiences in 2017

1. Skip the line: Vatican Museums, St Peter’s, Sistine Chapel
2. Chicago Architecture River Cruise
3. Skip the line: Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour
4. Rome Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour
5. Priority Access: Barcelona Sagrada Familia Tour
6. Eiffel Tower Summit: Priority access with host
7. Warner Bros Studio: The Making of Harry Potter with Luxury Round-Trip Transport from London
8. Empire State Building Tickets
9. Murano, Burano, and Torcello half-day sightseeing tour
10. Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour

The United State’s Most Popular Experiences in 2017

1. Chicago Architecture River Cruise
2. Empire State Building Tickets
3. NYC One World Observatory: Skip the line
4. USS Midway Museum: Skip the line (San Diego)
5. New York City PASS
6. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour
7. Skydeck Chicago: Admission
8. Big Bus New York Hop-on, Hop-off
9. 9/11 Memorial Museum Admission
10. Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour

 

Cultural Categories Are Skyrocketing

Travelers are expanding their horizons, and several categories grew quickly in 2017. Historic and heritage experiences—such as a Charleston Harbor History Tour and a Tour of Historic Fenway Park—saw the most growth—up 125 percent in bookings. Culinary is a clear trend as well—cooking classes and food tours both appeared among the top five categories, each with 57 percent bookings’ growth. By gross booking value, food tours saw the most growth in 2017.

The Fastest-Growing Experience Categories Worldwide

1. Historical and heritage tours (+125%)
2. Sunset cruises (+86%)
3. Private day trips (+79%)
4. Snorkeling (+70%)
5. Kayaking and canoeing (+67%)
6. Sailing trips (+61%)
7. Catamaran trips (+60%)
8. Food tours (+57%)
9. Cooking classes (+57%)
10. Museum tickets and passes (+54%)

 

U.S. Travelers Are Booking More Food Experiences

In line with global trends, U.S. bookings placed cooking classes and food tours in the top 10, with 51 percent and 49 percent growth respectively. An interactive spanish cooking experience in Barcelona where travelers learn to make paella and Spanish tapas with a local chef, and a guided street food tour in Rome with pizza, pastries, and sightseeing, were among the fastest growing experiences for U.S. and global travelers.

The Fastest-Growing Experience Categories in the United States

1. Historical and heritage tours (+98%)
2. Sunset Cruises (+89%)
3. Private Day Trips (+74%)
4. Snorkeling (+64%)
5. Sailing Trips (+55%)
6. Catamaran Cruises (+52%)
7. Cooking Classes (+51%)
8. Kayaking & Canoeing (+49%)
9. Food Tours (+49%)
10. Archaeology Tours (+49%)

 

U.S. Travelers Are Getting Active in the Great Outdoors

Historical and heritage experiences may have topped the list of fastest-growing categories for U.S. travelers (up 98 percent in bookings), but aquatic activities dominated the top 10, taking half of the top spots. Sunset cruises (up 89 percent in bookings), snorkeling (up 64 percent), sailing trips (up 55 percent), catamaran cruises (up 51 percent), and kayaking and canoeing experiences (up 49 percent) all ranked in the year’s fastest-growing categories.

 

Travelers Are Opting Out of Line-Ups

Skip-the-line access at some of the world’s busiest landmarks and sites (like the Colosseum) topped multiple lists this year. Two of the three most popular products in 2017 were skip-the-line as well as four of the 10 fastest-growing experiences in 2017. Skip-the-line tours were also the second-fastest growing category for U.S. travelers by gross booking value in 2017.

“Travelers are also being more economical with their time,” Greatrix says. “Skip-the-line tour options are among the fastest-growing tours in the world, and were among the fastest growing categories for U.S. travelers in particular, allowing travelers to see more than just the back of someone’s head.”

The Most Popular New Experiences Worldwide

1. Eiffel Tower Summit Priority Access with Host
2. Ancient Monuments of Rome Tour with Skip-the-Line pass
3. Skip the Line: Gaudi’s Casa Batlló Ticket with Audio Tour
4. Skip the Line: Arc de Triomphe Including Terrace Access
5. Skip-the-Line Florence Accademia Gallery and Michelangelo’s David Ticket
6. Full-Day Tour of Abu Dhabi City From Dubai
7. Fast Track Seville Guided Tour into Alcazar
8. Jewish Quarter Anne Frank Walking Tour in Amsterdam
9. Field Museum of Natural History Admission
10. San Antonio Zoo General Admission

The Most Popular New Experiences Among U.S. Travelers

1. Eiffel Tower Summit Priority Access with Host
2. Ancient Monuments of Rome Tour with Skip-the-Line pass
3. Skip the Line: Gaudi’s Casa Batlló Ticket with Audio Tour
4. Skip the Line: Arc de Triomphe Including Terrace Access
5. Skip-the-Line Florence Accademia Gallery and Michelangelo’s David Ticket
6. Full-Day Tour of Abu Dhabi City From Dubai
7. Jewish Quarter Anne Frank Walking Tour in Amsterdam
8. Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Combination Ticket
9. Live Nashville Walking Tour
10. 3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling Plus Cenote, and Caves

TripAdvisor’s most popular experiences are based on bookings in 2017 for products under $150 per person while the fastest growing experiences and categories are based on year-over-year growth in bookings from 2016 to 2017. The most popular new products are based on experiences added between April 2016 and April 2017 and ranked by bookings between April 2017 and December 2017.

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