There’s something special about arriving at a new cannabis-friendly locale — even if there isn’t a friendly face waiting to greet you upon arrival. You can’t exactly order a Lyft loaded with cannabis products — not yet, at least — but you can now book a full-service cannabis tour or concierge service.
Those who provide this type of travel personalization anticipate that it will soon be the norm as cannabis trickles into every industry that will have it. Tourism is one area that could see a huge boost from cannabis — according to aggregate statistic and research portal Statista, its $1.6 trillion contribution to the US GDP, paired with $34 billion from total cannabis sales last year, is a match made in consumerism heaven.
Eventually, ordering a cannabis-themed guided tour or airport pickup will be as simple as booking a hotel online, but for now it requires more research. Businesses like these are not only giving tourists the adventures they seek when they arrive in adult-use recreational states, but they’re also connecting newcomers to cannabis with assistance and care, which could make or break a new experience.
A Cultural Breakthrough In Travel
Cannabis is breaking barriers with every milestone. New consumers can be part of any demographic. Cannabis Tours president and co-founder Heidi Keyes always expects a healthy mix of cannabis-interested people in the groups who attend her events.
“I’m going to be honest, we don’t have a target customer, just as there isn’t a typical cannabis consumer,” Keyes tells Big Buds. “One of the best things about cannabis, in my opinion, is that it brings together people from all different places, all different backgrounds and of all different ages, and connects them with one thing: A love for the plant.”
Once the social wariness begins to fade, there’s plenty of room for cannabis in the mainstream. Sarah Remesch, founder of New Highs CBD, believes the long-awaited national legalization will open up the cannabis market for superstar endorsements.
“Federal legislation will help the distribution of high-end products from state to state and [develop] big-name, non-cannabis and cannabis brand partnerships,” she says.
Restrictions to access can prevent everyday Americans from consuming cannabis, but the convenience of a concierge service could open up minds that were previously closed or inexperienced.
“Consumers crave personalized experiences — personal shoppers, pre-packaged, at-home cooking services, advanced functional medicine,” Remesch continues. “Cannabis concierges would answer the barrier-to-entry questions.”
April Black, CEO of Higher Way Travel, has more of a cannabis-committed clientele.
“Our target customers are adults 21 years of age or over who have an adventurous spirit and consider cannabis an essential part of their lifestyle — those who are seeking a vacation in which they are free to celebrate their love of cannabis, rather than being forced to hide it,” Black says.
Hi-Curious targets recent cannabis converts and the uninitiated. Founder Lauren Mundell hopes to drive mindful exploration of the plant, even for completely inexperienced consumers.
“The hype, propaganda and confusion surrounding legal cannabis is sparking curiosity,” she says. “And with the industry moving at a Wild West pace, it’s only possible to experience it firsthand. We help sophisticated adults satisfy their curiosity about legal cannabis for well-being.”
Choose Your Own Cannabis Vacation
Businesses like these can get eager guests to cannabis-friendly locations, and offer as hands-on or as hands-off an itinerary as the guest may want. Lodging and transportation can be taken care of, or a guest can show up when they feel like it — dropping in for classes and events whenever the mood strikes. This new breed of business brings care and intention to the cannabis experience, and it allows people to indulge or explore at their own pace.
Mundell enjoys taking music lovers to a renowned Colorado amphitheater.
“A lot of people come to Red Rocks in the summer for concerts,” she says. “We create a seamless concert-going experience. A chef comes and prepares your tailgate, and your cannabis concierge helps you curate your experience throughout the weekend.”
If someone wants to pack the day with activities, the itineraries can cover a lot of ground. From farm visits to going behind the scenes at an edibles factory, these different operations are providing unique experiences that tourists would not be able to create on their own.
Black says the framework of these tours can be a security blanket for anyone worried about indecision while stoned.
“By offering our customers a clear, set itinerary in advance, we can ease any apprehensions they may have both before and during the trip, and provide them a structured schedule to help keep them focused and on track, so they can live in the moment worry-free,” Black says.
Other groups like Cannabis Tours allow people to book per service, and airport pickup provides post-flight relief anyone would covet.
“One of the things our company specializes in is catering a cannabis vacation from the moment you step off the airplane, with cannabis-friendly airport transportation and a dispensary stop, to cannabis-friendly lodging with a vaporizer waiting for you at the front desk,” Keyes tells us.
“During your stay, we have a wide variety of 420-friendly events, like our tours, Puff, Pass and Paint classes, cooking classes, hash-making classes and hemp tours,” Keyes continues. “We totally understand that some people prefer everything scheduled for them, and some people just want to drop in for a tour or class or two, so we have lots of options on both a la carte activities and packages.”
Connecting With Cannabis
Cannabis acceptance will eventually be more widespread, and when it is, weed-focused trips and retreats will experience a boom.
“Simply put, [people want] an experience, not just a high,” Remesch says. “As we see different products being formulated for certain times of day or activities, these retreats should aim at curating the trip toward a goal.”
The cannabis concierge and travel spaces can help craft and independent growers give their brands exposure they wouldn’t normally get. Connecting an in-ground cannabis operation with eager gawkers creates a strong brand image that can be carried across the globe, even where their products cannot. The most basic photo op can be thrilling to someone who has never touched a cannabis plant.
“People have different reasons for wanting to learn about cannabis,” Mundell says. “We are seeing sophisticated adults who are interested in learning about cannabis on their terms.”
Higher Way’s tours take people to attractions sourced from relationships they have cultivated over many years.
“Whether it’s a smoke-friendly establishment, a discounted rate, a private tour, or access to an otherwise restricted activity such as a grow room or extraction lab, we can provide curated experiences unlike any they could book on their own,” explains Black.
People want to connect with cannabis in so many forms, and Keyes says this is what led her to this line of work.
“My business partners and I started our company because we love and believe in the plant, and had no idea [the business] would be as successful as it is,” she says. “We want to continue pushing for normalization, leading to national legalization, and that is one of the amazing things about the activities we do — they bring people together, and they help break through the stigma that still surrounds cannabis, even in 2019.”