What do you get when you put seven influential travel journalists in a room together? Trend talk, that’s what.
At the PURE 2016 Press Roundtable we took the opportunity to probe a few of our press members on their predictions for the future of experiential travel. Click play on the video below to get the scoop from Editor-in-Chief of Travel Weekly and Press Roundtable moderator, Arnie Weissman; or read on to get the extended insights and download the full report.
You can read Arnie’s take on the PURE Press Roundtable over on Travel Weekly here.
TRAVEL TREND #1: TRANSFORMATIONAL TRAVEL
“We’ve seen experiential travel, we’ve seen authentic travel, we’ve seen curated travel – and where I think it’s going is towards transformational travel. What that transformation is will be different for every traveller: some will be about traversing exterior landscapes, and some will be about traversing interior landscapes.”
– Arnie Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of Travel Weekly
Experiential travel is originally based on the idea that, done right, travel can be life-enriching, involving a memorable experience that improves the way we connect with loved ones and the world. But as more mainstream operators catch on to its marketing potential and the phrase is thrown around increasingly liberally, ‘experiential travel’ has become something of a catch-all term for travel experiences with some element of local flavour, in contrast to fly-and-flop, all-inclusive holidays that take place within the walls of a purpose-built resort.
Yet as the world becomes better connected and global tourism industries boom, there is a growing false economy in promoting cultural experiences that, while labelled as ‘authentic’, are in reality as contrived as any resort. So how can we distinguish the authentic from the inauthentic?
Enter ‘transformational travel’. Identified by our press influencers as one of the next big travel trends, transformational travel is a more sophisticated iteration of its experiential cousin. For Condé Nast Traveler’s Paul Brady, “it’s about the access you can get, the spiritual connection a place offers.” Not to be confused with VIP passes, ‘access’ in this case is the priceless feeling of being truly part of something – of aligning with your surroundings on a psychological and emotional level.
Editor-in-Chief of Travel Weekly and Press Roundtable Moderator, Arnie Weissmann, agrees that transformation travel is about the “interior journey”, calling it “as individual as people.” Seemingly a direct response to the Pinterest-inspired bucket lists and Instagram-worthy humble-brags of today’s hyper-connected world, there’s no one-size-fits-all checklist for what makes a transformational travel experience; it is covetable precisely due to its elusiveness and exclusivity.
Indeed, according to DEPARTURES’ Jessica Flint, “exclusivity and bespokeness has become heightened over the past three years; everyone wants an experience that was created specially for them.” This is where high-end, customised travel maintains its competitive advantage over mass tourism: thanks in part to the time and attention they can afford to pay each client, Private Travel Designers are experts in building a comprehensive profile of their personalities and needs that will enable them to plan a personalised, truly transformational trip.
Katie Palmer is Senior Creative Executive for Beyond Luxury Media.