The epidemic, which has changed the way we act, feel, perceive and deal with everyday life has not only affected every industry and individual but will also impact the way we will do things in the future. Thus, how should we react? And most importantly, what will happen once all of this is over? Will we return to life as we know it?
Renown Israeli author David Grossman believes the world is in need of a big overwhelming change. And as he states in his piece for La Repubblica, “After this epidemic, we will return to being human. There will be new priorities as we will say goodbye to the superfluous and yes to tenderness.”
And while Grossman’s statement seems to have hit a nerve, what will it be of the travel industry, which has in a particular way, been hit hard by the after-effects of the epidemic?
While at the moment plans for travel during summer seem off the charts, this doesn’t mean that we won’t soon be travelling once again. Until that moment comes - make sure to not cancel your reservation or at least postpone it, as it could seriously help the hospitality sector and the local communities that depend on tourism stay strong in the face of this disastrous adversity. We talked to Anne Lise Kjaer of Kjaer Global, a Trend Management and Idea Consultancy company, which predicted what will happen in the next few years, as the changes we are currently experiencing in our everyday lives will be profoundly affecting the way we choose to travel.
“When looking at the future of travel we see the emotional consumer setting the agenda. Hyper-connectivity means, across the globe, a growing middle class that is aware of material goods and lifestyle possibilities,” Kjaer explained.
Nonetheless, what will this growing new consumer look for in travel in the future? Here are her predictions:
After 2008’s financial crisis, value sets shifted, and this will happen once again. People are slowly realising that money alone can’t buy happiness meaning consumers will be ever more selective about their spending. People will look for meaning and fulfilment. Increasingly they will choose to look for life-enhancing experiences, like adventure holidays, over possessions. They will also see sustainability and ethics as the new norm.
Emotional consumption is key – as people are asking themselves: ‘How can I get more out of my life?’ Today’s work/life convergence brings time pressure and consumers look for self-optimisation and stress-free travel experiences when they do meet up with family and friends. There are huge opportunities in helping people achieve the quality of life through meaningful, inspiring, and educational experiences.
Contrast and diversity rule today’s world, as Fast and Slow approaches to life collide. Reconciling these disparate influences presents a tough set of challenges, which is why it’s important to adopt a whole-brain strategy. This means combining the left brain (analytical) and the right brain (visionary) approaches in order to understand and decode cultural contexts in society.
Total Transparency is essential, as people choose to travel on the promise of good times and happy memories. They want to know exactly what they will get so providing honest and accurate descriptions is the only way to earn trust. Cloud Culture fuels this desire for accurate information, as collaborative networks enable people to peer review and swap tips. Participating in social media and speaking directly to consumers with custom-made offers is essential.
The Global Citizens want Diversity and unique offerings and seek out good value, as well as meaningful engagement. Connectivity, sharing and mobility are key to engagement – although the desire for freedom may mean people increasingly look for ultimate ‘get away from it all’ experiences. Providing opportunities for Cultural Consumption and community, with experiences that enable consumers to discover the world around them, satisfy their thirst for knowledge. It’s vital though to celebrate the local differences and tell engaging narratives focusing on people, heritage and national identity.
Holidays and travel experiences also offer opportunities to tap into the universal desire for A Better World and social participation through volunteering. Scandinavian countries have a huge natural advantage, as people view their lifestyles as healthy and pure, with a focus on ecology. This is also relevant to consumers’ desire for Intelligent Health, as they are seeking out mindfulness, personal coaching and the healthy option (be it adventure or simple retreat) in holidays, as well as in everyday life.
Ultimately all travellers are looking for The Real Thing and authenticity – journeys and experiences that surprise, awaken or even terrify them. This reaction to the ‘too planned and perfect’ means the days when travel companies could be ‘all things to all people’ are over. The solution is to become a facilitator for Happiness Hunting, engaging with people as individuals and enabling them to be more mindful and ‘reconnect’ with their own personal narrative.
We live in a Patchwork Society where we are moving away from traditional demographic segmentation into a more profound holistic understanding of people. Society drivers are closely linked to people’s value sets – reflecting their preferences and lifestyle choices. Two contrasting mindsets dominate. WE tribes ask: ‘Will it benefit all of us?”, while ME People say: “What’s in it for me?”.
The most essential point to recognise is that travel is one of the ultimate acts of emotional consumption. It sits at the very root of people’s identity – their choices reflect who they are, their desires and dreams. Increasingly travellers are not just ‘passive’ consumers, but active participants, curators and holiday experts who seek out meaningful experiences to improve their everyday lives.
Ultimately, the past has demonstrated that after every pandemic or after a great period of intense crisis, usually comes an economic boom and spiritual awakening. However, it is up to us, this time more than ever to see and decide how we can turn things around, for ourselves and our communities.