Posted by Williams Helde Staff

Stories that inspire: where we get the travel bug

shutterstock_99218126As we discovered in our last post, for Active Explorers, travel is a need right up there with food, clothing and shelter. Everyone wants to take vacations to get away, whether from the stress of work or the dreary weather of home, but what inspires Active Explorers to travel? What’s that moment of motivation – when the light bulb goes on in their heads and they start making their plans? More importantly, is there an insight here for marketers?

In our recent travel study, conducted with a 258-member Active Explorer User Group, there were a few key findings concerning the travel consumer’s purchasing journey. The first was inspiration. Active Explorer travelers are motivated to travel based on specific inspirations, influencers from books to music, and more. Here’s a glimpse of the sparks that ignite an Active Explorer’s interest. These aren’t just apt observations, they’re actionable ways to communicate with potential travelers and Active Explorers.

For Active Explorers, travel is often inspired by movies, books and music.

Of the participants surveyed, 61% agree or strongly agree that movies, books and music influence their desire to travel. For Active Explorers, travel is often geared toward exploring new places and cultures, or recharging and getting away from the day-to-day grind. But even so, movies, books and music are significant sources of inspiration. Here are some verbatims from respondents:

  • “Reading books sparks my imagination for travel. Movies and TV shows also play a role. I like to be interested in the places I choose to go to.”
  • “Pictures and offers, new things I haven’t seen. . .and things I’ve seen in movies”
  • “Seeing locations in movies or reading about them in books. Also, seeing where friends travel.”

It’s a simple truth that we’ve all likely experienced: movies often show viewers a vivid picture of amazing destinations and unforgettable sights. So it’s no surprise that films are often mentioned as sources of inspiration for travel among our respondents. One user group member credited the James Bond movies specifically. James Bond: travel agent.

But Active Explorers are being inspired to travel on the small screen, too. Consider the Netflix original series Bloodline, which has increased tourism traffic and interest in the Florida Keys, especially at the Moorings Resort in Islamorada. Or the tourism industry that continues to thrive in the wake of off-the-air series like Sex in the City or Downton Abbey. The essence of a place, beautifully crafted by television, not only stokes the imagination, it’s the catalyst that impels travelers to seek first-hand experience. So join in, capture the essence of these places, and make it your business to get people there.

Active Explorers are inspired to travel by, well, traveling. The more they travel, the more they want to find more corners of the world to explore. In fact, 64% of Active Explorer user group respondents agree or strongly agree that they begin planning their next trip right after taking a trip.

One Active Explorer respondent expressed it this way: “Going on vacation makes me want to go somewhere new the next time.” It’s not simply that Active Explorers are avid travelers, they’re in insatiable pursuit of the new, from destinations and cultures to sights and tastes.

All of this means that marketers can no longer rely on simple benefit messages to create an emotional connection between their product and their best customers. The most successful brands are creating experiences – through storytelling, music and video – that engage and inspire their customers to see their brand as a call to adventure.

Look at the way Jeep uses storytelling and music to convince their customers to find their own inspiration. Watch how Corona tells their customers to “find your beach,” using nothing but sea, sun and the ambient sound of waves.  They’re creating personal entertainment experiences that evoke our yearn to travel and associate themselves with wanderlust.

Stories. Images. Music. These are your tools. Now, inspire your customers to move.

Your travel brand and the Active Explorer User Group

Looking to get a better understanding of how communicating with Active Explorers can help achieve your revenue goals this year? The complete user group findings are available to select marketers at no cost, so give us a call. Let’s get started.

For additional information, please contact us at or call (206) 285-1940.


Williams Helde Staff
About the Author

Williams Helde Staff

Seattle-based Williams Helde helps build active, healthy brands through marketing communications, PR, advertising and design.