At Matter Of Form we are deeply passionate about the travel sector and the innate wanderlust in us all. Our latest whitepaper, the ‘Future of Adventure and Exploration’, delves into the often contradictory key trends regarding modern travel and offers strategical recommendations to tackle the paradoxical landscape industry experts face today.
“Adventure and travel no longer are just about physically visiting a place, increasingly it’s about the experience and the transformation that it offers us. Adventure is as much about learning something new about a place as it is about learning about oneself.” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
As the first in a wider series assessing the Future of Adventure and Exploration, this article will comment on the increasingly diverse travel demographics, the imminent need for inclusivity and ever-growing desire for authentic experiences.
Future of Adventure Series: Inclusive Travel
The information age and the unprecedented access to knowledge it provides has created a cohort of non-binary global citizens, able to constantly remix their identities and move between cultures seamlessly.
42% of global youth feel more connected to another country’s popular culture than to that of their own country. (Source: The Global Culture Forecast, Cassandra, 2018).
Add to this melting pot the burgeoning youthquake in Africa, Asia and traditional Muslim countries, and you have a whole new breed of modern adventurer. A breed whose attitude to travel and exploration is inherently different from that of previous generations.
As more traditional values and behaviours are eroded, people are afforded more freedom to construct their unique identities, and this increase in freedom, in turn, drives demand for forward-thinking services.
By 2020 more than half of Americans under 18 will be minorities. By 2040, Caucasians will be the minority. By 2050 a quarter of the world’s population will be Muslim (2.8 billion), (Source: Pew Research 2016).
Of the four billion people born by the end of the century, three billion will be born in Africa, (Source: Gates Foundation, Goalkeepers report).
Monoculturalism is a thing of the past. Travel like every other industry must adapt or die. It is vital if brands are to stay relevant, that they do not pigeonhole people, or make careless assumptions about places, but instead constantly re-imagine and diversify their offer to keep pace with these changing needs.
Brands need to consider how they will cater for new travellers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East but also how these countries themselves can open their doors to both national and international travellers and what effect that will have on the global tourism landscape.
In 2017, USD 48.7 billion was generated from outsiders visiting Africa. It’s expected that this will grow by 4% by the end of 2018, (Source: World Travel & Tourism Council, March 2018).
Educate and Advocate
Regardless of demographic, race or gender what connects these travellers is a desire to learn about the place they are visiting.
“We used to think the pioneers going out and opening up places were the backpackers but these days it’s the 60-year-olds. A whole generation of baby boomers, either retired or flexible working are the ones who want to go somewhere new like the Silk Road, or on Polar Journeys. Their interests are around local history and culture,” Lyn Hughes, Editor-in-chief / Founder, Wanderlust.
There is a growing desire to see the real narratives of a place, not a sanitised version – this is not to be confused with controversial slum tourism, but about people wanting to engage with the truth of a location as part of educating themselves about the world we live in.
”A lot of people are using the word authenticity but there is growing interest in local cultures, first nation cultures, and disappearing ways of life and languages. As the world becomes increasingly homogeneous people want to find something that is very different. There are lots of initiatives around community owned accommodation in conjunction with larger hotel groups. Spirit Bear Lodge in Canada is owned by a first nation group and is an exceptional experience. Similarly, in Namibia, there are community owned places on conservancies. People feel more immersed in local communities because of it,” Lyn Hughes, Editor-in-chief / Founder, Wanderlust.
It is important when telling a nation’s story not to focus only on its history but to allow visitors to feel part of its contemporary culture, the music, the underground youth movements. Remote Year has introduced more culturally – attuned programme innovations like “tracks,” curated offerings led by locals that immerse participants in authentic displays of local culture. While Tastemakers Africa partnered with AFROPUNK to connect festival attendees with members of the African and Caribbean diasporas in festival cities to gain “insight and context into the subcultures not seen in the mainstream”.
People want to feel heard and welcome at home and away.
Sites like Travel Noire and NOMADNESS tribe aim to give a voice to the under-represented in the travel industry.
“NOMADNESS is an award-winning travel lifestyle brand. We represent the underrepresented demographic in mainstream travel through NOMADNESS Travel Tribe. We are the travel influencers and innovators. We are a tangible travel family of over 19,000 black and brown nomads, responsible for over $50,000,000 being injected into the travel industry annually. Our mission is to show the world that travel has no racial, gender, religious, economic, or interest limitations through our community representation and relevance. We were first to represent the millennial travel demographic, and we are always looking to innovate our sector of the industry. NOMADNESS mission statement.
Up to 7% of adults are estimated to identify as LGBTQ. And the LGBTQ segment is recognized to travel more often and demonstrate higher-than-average patterns of spending, (Source: Second Global Report on LGBTQ Tourism by UNWTO)”.
Sexuality has a major influence on where LGBTQ British adults travel, with two thirds (63%) refusing to visit somewhere with an unwelcoming attitude towards the LGBTQ community, (Source: Virgin Holidays research, 2016).
The desire to feel both welcome and safe is key, when travelling people want to be able to express themselves in an authentic way. Facebook has over 70 gender options as well as a free form field for people who do not identify with any of the pre-populated fields. The travel industry needs to catch up.
“Inclusivity is still lagging behind – many travel destinations are in locations that either for religious or cultural reasons are not so accepting of some of the western gender neutral ideals or LGBTQ+ and therefore the industry as a whole is lagging behind. However, we are beginning to see some early adopter brands who are shifting the ideals of family or couple holidays. Solo traveller blogs are emerging and locations are beginning to offer rooms for singles vs couples. Single Parents on Holiday is an example of a brand that is set up to help individuals and their kids have a great time and to connect with other single parents (without it being a dating event!) and Co-founder of architecture firm NOA* Stefan Rier and interior designer Joanna Lehnis are putting thought leadership out into the industry discussing why the family hotel model needs to change to be more fitting to the way families are constructed in the modern day,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
Within the series, we will look to explore further travel themes such as Voyages of Self Discovery, Transformative Travel, Liminal Space, Human Touch and New Luxury. If you would like to read more, you can download the full ‘Future of Adventure’ report. If you wish to discuss any of the content or hear our thoughts on how to put some of our insights into action, please get in touch via [email protected] and we would be delighted to have a chat.