#livinglifetothefull. How experiences are transforming people’s leisure time.

Although you wouldn’t know it salivating over the esoteric fusions in Soho’s eateries, all food has humble roots.

The Basque pintxo is no exception. People heading to the cider houses and bodegas in the old part of San Sebastián to buy their alcohol would make the most of the trip by downing a few drinks. Over time, txikiteo, the practice of travelling from bar to bar with a kuadrilla (a group of close friends), caught on and bars started offering small bites to help them on their journey.

On this year’s team trip to San Sebastián (see cringey image above), we were lucky enough to discover the joys of this wonderful tradition with a walking food tour of the city with the highly-recommended brand MIMO.

As always, our three-day trip comprised a couple of group activities. However, by current standards, we took it easy. In our latest consumer research on experiences with 2,000 millennials, three-quarters paid for at least two activities on a weekend away, and one-third three or more.

Not everyone is blessed with a super organised colleague (thank you Amy!) who plans your entire trip ahead of departure, and yet most are organising the experiences prior to going, with one-fifth doing so whilst on their trip.

With an increasing array of choices, consumers are filling their bucket lists with experiences that out-do their friends, a torrent of unashamed Instagram-fuelled brags. In turn, they are becoming influencers in their own right – three-quarters get their inspiration for experiences from their friends and one-quarter through social media.

Nationally, almost all millennials had done a group activity or experience in the last year, with half having done a competitive group activity such as paintballing or go-karting, 44% gone on a food and drink tasting/tour, and 37% had been on a group sports activity such as a golf or football trip.

Experiences have also become really popular gifts. 60% have bought an experience as a gift in the last year, most popular being a beauty/spa treatment, a food/drink tasting/tour, music/dance performance, and live sports match. Although birthdays (83%) and Christmas (53%) are by far the most popular occasions, one-quarter have gifted ‘just because’.

In satisfying these trends, we are seeing lots of innovation in the travel and experiences market, creating truly unique memories for consumers. Brands that are adding real value by creating memorable group experiences in the UK and internationally are growing quickly.

Closer to home, working with our partner brands, we are always discussing the importance of immersing consumers in brand-building experiences. Many of them are already creating memorable experiences for their customers – Mindful Chef’s beach clean-up attracted more than a thousand customers who cleaned up over 12,500 litres of rubbish across 125 beaches (equivalent to 25,000 plastic bottles); Bloom & Wild have hosted 2,000 flower arranging workshops; 10,000 have been to Turtle Bay’s touring Soundclash live reggae nights, 27,000 have been to Hickory’s dress-up breakfasts, and 1,500 have learnt how to butcher meat at Flat Iron.

In the spirit of San Sébastien, most of these would work well in a kuadrilla with a pintxo in hand…

Nationally, almost all millennials had done a group activity or experience in the last year, with half having done a competitive group activity such as paintballing or go-karting, 44% gone on a food and drink tasting/tour, and 37% had been on a group sports activity such as a golf or football trip.

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