Travel editors make it their business to know the latest news, openings and trends in the industry… But can they tell us what’s coming next? At the 2016 PURE Press Roundtable we took the opportunity to find out.
Click play on the video below to hear Senior Editor at Condé Nast Traveler US Paul Brady give us his prediction for the next big trend in experiential travel; or read on to get the extended insights and download the full report.
TRAVEL TREND #4: HANDS-ON
“I think the biggest travel trend of the next year is going to be more hands-on experiences; whether it’s stand-up paddle-boarding, cooking classes… These things are already bubbling up in the travel industry and they’re going to get even bigger in the coming year.”
– Paul Brady, Senior Editor at Condé Nast Traveler US
According to our press influencers, an underlying cynicism of so-called ‘cultural’ displays that reduce the traveller to a passive voyeur will lead to the rise of hands-on experiences. By getting their hands dirty (quite literally in some cases), travellers form a stronger connection with a destination – “rather than having the vacation happen to you, you participate in it”, says Condé Nast Traveler’s Paul Brady.
And this appetite for the concrete, touchable and immersive is no surprise, given that so much of our lives now are now led online. If consumers can virtually travel anywhere in the world with the click of a button, or talk to people all over the globe as though they were in the same room, then travel experiences must deliver something more. Physically engaging in a task or activity turns an observation into an experience, subconsciously bridging the gap between our selves and our surroundings and, to some extent, proving to our brains that we are actually there.
Since the nature of hands-on experiences is that they require focus, this emerging trend could be travel’s answer to mindfulness: an attempt to block out the noise of modern life by turning our undivided attention to one particular task. Where traditional travel focused on sightseeing – covering as much ground as possible in as little time – today’s sophisticated traveller seeks to learn about a destination through a few, carefully-chosen interactive pursuits.
But hands-on experiences can also be educational in a broader sense. “The way travel is going is towards niche travel and expert”, says Brady; he’s referring to the increasing number of travellers who visit a destination in the interests of a particular pursuit. Take paddle boarding, or surfing: whether or not these activities are typical of a region’s traditions is to some extent irrelevant – they’re nonetheless a means of engaging complete attention and immersing travellers in the landscape.
At the crux of the matter is this: in order to gain the attention and trust of today’s intelligent, suspicious consumers, successful travel brands must work towards a new definition of cultural authenticity by creating hands-on experiences that encourage physical – and thus tangible – connections between a traveller and the destination.
Katie Palmer is Senior Creative Executive for Beyond Luxury Media.