Where have you been? Trudging along with a pack of fellow tourists through endless museums and cathedrals? Overeating and drinking on another cruise? Driving hundreds and hundreds of miles in just five days so you can “see the country?”

Well, you have fallen behind the travel times. The new traveller seeks more than a view from a tour bus or train window and wants more out of his or her travel experience than 9 cities in 8 days.

Tracing the roots of the 3.0 traveller

Travel 3.0 is the current travel industry buzz, loosely defined as experiential travel. 3.0 travellers are looking for more meaningful travel experiences, those that touch travellers at a deeper emotional level. But this isn’t quite as new as some people might want to believe.

Consider some of the early travellers to the New World. Not all immigrants to the New World (and other countries) travelled to flee persecution or famine, and not all sought fame and fortune or glory for the homeland. The spirit of adventure called to any number of earlier travellers to experience different cultures and communities; sometimes, the immersion experience became the new “forever home.”

This adventurous travel thirst called to men and women of diverse social strata and interests. A German prince and a Swiss artist travelled the Missouri River (in the United States) between 1832 and 18334, seeking to document “the flora, fauna, and native inhabitants of North America.” Theirs was a significant immersion into a then-wilderness culture.

The “Grand Tour” of Europe dates back at least as far as the 17th century and was typically undertaken by wealthier individuals. At one time, the Grand Tour served to immerse travellers in other cultures – travelling for the sake of curiosity and knowledge. Gradually, the Grand Tour became more the fashionable thing to do, a symbol of wealth and freedom. The itinerary shifted toward what would now be considered “typical” tourist locales.

New travel frontiers

Travel 3.0 may be a throwback to those earlier adventures with site doing replacing sight-seeing. The most significant difference is the technology that powers the travel through near-instant information access, geo location, mobile Internet, and the ease with which travellers can book trips and access resources around the globe.

The new traveller, in 3.0 terms, seems to find greater pleasure and meaning in adventures that literally remove the traveller from his or her comfort zone through immersion into totally different community and culture. 

The 3.0 traveller may be seeking the adrenaline high of a perfect wave or helicoptering to a remote ski drop. Or he may also choose to fulfil some of that experiential travel quest by booking a community or humanitarian service journey.

Fulfilling the 3.0 vision

Although online booking services are popular, they cannot replace the resources and conveniences of working with a skilled travel agent. 

Travel research, especially to less-traditional destinations, can be very time consuming (and frustrating). The experienced 3.0 agent uses all tech resources to gather information, reviews, travel requirements, etc., and match that data with the relevant services and products their clients will need. Skilled 3.0 travel agents are recognizing the value of travellers’ opinions and feelings and how that understanding helps them better meet their clients’ travel needs and interests.

The 3.0 travel agent uses a multidimensional approach to working with today’s experiential traveller. This means developing greater interactive (not reactive) skills and adapting to the rapidly changing media and communications tools clients use. As one blogger recently wrote, “Agent 3.0 is even more of a trusted advisor, in having the ability to anticipate clients’ preferences…”

Who knows what will be the next travel shift beyond Travel 3.0. For now, let us celebrate the spirit of adventure that inspires 3.0 travellers to connect with other world citizens – and the amazing technology that helps make that connection possible.