Comment: Get real about authenticity

It’s one of the latest buzzwords, particularly in the luxury sector, but what exactly is ‘authentic travel’?

That was one of many questions discussed at our Aspire Brunch Club last week, and it is one that poses an ongoing challenge for travel marketers trying to set their products apart from their rivals’.

Just as the definition of luxury differs depending on who you speak to within the industry, so does the definition of authenticity. But ‘authentic experiences’ are being promised by more and more travel companies through their brochures and websites.

One panellist at the brunch went as far as describing the word as a “marketing fad” – and he may have a point.

But it’s also undoubtedly true that the use of the phrase reflects the need for companies to respond to growing consumer demand for a deeper, richer and more cultural and genuine holiday experience.

Perhaps the reason it’s so hard to define what is or isn’t an authentic experience is that it is such a subjective term. For one person, it might be something spectacular such as stumbling across a wedding ceremony in a remote village, while for another it might just be using a couple of words of the local language for the first time to buy a traditional snack in a more mass-market resort.

What all the panellists agreed on was that the most memorable experiences are impromptu, immersive and shared with other people.

So perhaps the secret for travel companies is not to try too hard to define and guarantee authentic experiences, but instead to encourage customers to get out and discover their own.

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