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Stories to stay authentic in the travel and hospitality business



Right now, everyone is a self-proclaimed adventurer. The internet is flooded with pictures of people posing from popular destinations, sitting on palm-fringed beaches and eating exotic food, hashtagged #wanderlust. So much so, that it contradicts the true meaning of exploring, which is to go where it’s uncharted, beyond the comfortable choices and off those beaten tracks. Often enough, travel and hospitality businesses use these populist narratives; so, we were quite excited to get a client that wanted to stay away from the trending narratives and lean into their authenticity. Let’s look at some story examples from our long-term client the Spice Trail—a fantastic string of boutique hotels for families and surfers—that has a pronounced Explorer archetype in their business persona.


With the Spice Trail, we make sure to bring out the traits that highlight their sense of adventure, resourcefulness and ability to stay authentic despite shifts in time and place. A business with an Explorer persona like the Spice Trail leverages visuals and themes that signify ideas of journeying, new places, and surfing, which tie in with its target audience's affinities.


When it comes to story narratives, the classic arc of adventure where a protagonist embarks on a quest, gains an extraordinary experience, and returns transformed is always a great option for Explorer businesses because it can be interpreted with new experiences beyond the beaten path; like how to get somewhere, surf expeditions, lesser-known histories, or navigating major changes through symbolic journeys


It’s interesting to create stories that speak to the Explorer archetype in the audience too; we created a story series to give away to guests, as postcards. This was a way to create common ground with their audience who are travelers and within a frame of mind that appreciates journeying and adventure.


The Explorer’s authenticity shines the brightest when they’re tested with challenges that make it harder to stay true to their core. We created a story to help the Spice Trail’s resident restaurant to communicate how they stayed true to their offer during Sri Lanka’s economic crisis (You get to see the backend of our story design process here; what we call a story outline identifying the key ingredients of the story from the key messages and story facts. Scroll down in the linked document to see the finished story). This was a story designed to show how an Explorer persona used its superpower to stay true to itself in the thick of changes using a seriously challenging context where the government had imposed strict import restrictions leading to ingredient limitations for their eclectic menu based on recipes around the world. 


When designing these stories, we moved away from populist travel narratives so our client’s authenticity is highlighted. As much as the popular narratives are useful pointers to what consumers want and desire right now, a business that only follows the trends misses the mark when it comes to authenticity. So, while we use popular narratives to understand what audiences are interested in, we help our clients share stories that are new, more interesting and authentic.


Our most frequent Explorer brand clients are in hospitality, food & beverages, and recreation. We encourage them to share more stories about the Explorer’s quest itself, the transformation it delivers or those involving truly uncharted experiences. To find out how we can tell your stories, get in touch. To ask us questions and get custom consultations, become a paid subscriber, or ask us about the story membership. 


Like our stories? Read these stories featuring a personal viewpoint on what it means to really travel, and how we follow a story, from our co-creators Shamalee and Alain.


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