Appetite for Travel

Yesterday’s  Travel Lab at Ogilvy was fantastic fuel for thought on the latest developments in user behaviour and what they mean for travel. Here’s what I got from it

The experience economy

We care less about stuff, we care more about experiences. We care less about what we have and don’t have but more about what we can do and what others are doing.

We are moving to a new form of materialism, a new form of consumerism. Status and vanity are now expressed and fed via shared experiences, rather than possessions. The recent surge in support for organic, fair-trade, free-range produce, for instance, is now mirrored by increasing demand for organic, fair-trade, free-range, and increasingly ‘freegan’ experiences.

 

Travel is the ultimate product

This experience economy, coupled with the sharing economy is presenting huge opportunities for the travel and entertainment industries, the first to see experience as product. Countries, and the travel brands that feed them, now serve as ‘manufacturers’ of the experience, subject to the same scrutiny and brand-opportunity as manufacturers – having to make the purchase-case, and do it in a way that suits the latest ‘experience’ consumption behaviours and expectations.

 

Experiences must be wearable

Now, when we ‘go on holiday’, we expect and want more than just a holiday, we see it as something that we can package up and use as a creative accessory, to express ourselves to our friends, family and the wider world.

Never, when we ‘go on holiday’ have we changed into another person. Since who we are is increasingly cloaked, if not yet fused, with technology, we like to and increasingly need to, take our technology with us, wherever we go (unless it’s a tech-detox retreat, which we’ll no doubt  inform our friends about and write Tripadvisor reviews on).

We need to be able to continue plugging in to the new experience in the same way we plug in to our daily-life (The Internet of Being)

 

Opportunities for the travel sector

Today’s speakers gave the view of the Jupiter-sized opportunity that the better start-ups spotted a while back. The most successful digital developments in travel seem to share the characteristic of successful ‘sustainable’ retail and food brands, feeding the experience appetite  with healthy, ethical options that are designed for public as well as private consumption.

If people feel that the experience they have is not only benefiting them, but also contributing to the greater good, they are more likely to buy and tell people they have bought  and, what’s more, making the effort to get others to buy that experience will make them feel good and that they have ‘done their bit’

‘The internet is creating a massive sampling campaign for other places’ (Rory) – helping us to find the best experience, that ‘people like us’ have liked.

The implications for this is the idea of countries as brands – There’s more involved in the decision now, not just the hotels and flight connections.  Like a potential partner on an online dating site or a pot of palm oil, we want to know if it’s right/healthy for the kids to meet/eat it… beyond AirBnB and Tripadvisor, lots of apps are capitalising on this ethical and cultural evaluation aspect (GreenHotel, YahooLabs, BackstreetAcademy, Fortaleza Tour, Lopeca, SideKix, Nectar & Pulse – instead of googling these individually, take a look at Springwise – a great forum, archive and search tool for all these types of thing and more)

 

My top five links from the day

  1. Visit Britain – choose Chinese name for a range of British landmarks…
  2. fly – travel memoir makes an elegant travel journal that draws on data from multiple apps to create an all-singling –all dancing record of the trip that can be circulated on/offline…
  3. Icelandair stoposver buddy service – for free, Iceland-air will team you up with a real Icelandic person who will give you a guided tour out of the icy goodness of their hearts…
  4. Fieldtrip to Mars – recognised with a Cannes gold, the biggest bravest attempt at virtual reality ever, Lockheed Martin took a school bus full of real school kids to Mars (not really, just kidding ;)) Hail the new competition for traditional travel – I think, as AirBnB was to hotels, so virtual travel and gaming will be to, well, real places..
  5. Ditch postcodes – use the 3 word addressing system –  everywhere you have ever been and want to go now has 3 words associated with it that you can find and share via phone. Whether you’ve lost your tent at Glastonbury, you’re phone-equipped tot strays in Disneyland, you’ve broken your foot in the Gobi, there’s now an app for that..
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