One of the worldwide famous life-changing experience destination is the Santiago Way, a pilgrimage route that revived two decades ago from the middle age. It was first developed through the local Government’s investment in hospitality facilities and promotion, and from then on through word of mouth and high-profile storytelling, including many films.

Even if the experience concept is apparently simple –mostly considering that most pilgrims do not have religious motivations-, it turns to be a memorable social experience where you meet people from all walks of life, from all nationalities and ages, but in all cases everybody has an open mind and a noble heart, unlike most of us are used to in our daily lives. Unlike most other holiday concepts, this one is essentially a social experience which is totally flexible in the way that you can start and finish when and where you prefer to, and you can improvise your journey every day.

The intense conviviality along the whole journey when walking and once arrived in the destination hostel sets the stage for multiple kinds of stories about friendship, self-discovery and awareness, transferring wisdom, and love, among many others that you can imagine.

Such a life-changing experience scenario has inspired many celebrities in writing books and making films. Such is the case of Paulo Coelho –Brazilian bestseller author- with his book “El Peregrino de Compostela”, which brought a considerable flow of Brazilian pilgrims; or Hape Kerkeling –German Showman- with his book and film “I’m off then” which also brought large flows of German visitors. Other cases are Shirley Maclaine with her book “The Way” or Charlie Sheen in a film with the same name. This is a benchmark case study to illustrate how life-changing experiences inspire stories up to high-profile storytelling.

Nowadays, the local DMO do not need to invest in promotion anymore. The storytelling machine works itself and The Way has revived many areas which were literally abandoned. Beyond the main route, where all these media stories take place, many other Santiago Ways have been developed taking advantage of The Way’s enthusiasts boom, thus reviving the other historical pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela coming from different points of the Iberian Peninsula.

Do you know of other similar cases?

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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