Future Of Adventure Series: Transformative Travel

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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 third in a wider series assessing the Future of Adventure and Exploration, this article will comment on the wave of eco-conscious travellers, sustainable tourism and the importance of social responsibility.

“Human values driving change in the travel industry are ‘Better me and Better planet…

In a world where people are increasingly realising the damage humans have done they are looking for more socially and eco-conscious moments. Better me is also a key value as people are on a life-long discovery of learning and bettering themselves,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.

The terms brand purpose and social purpose are bandied around by marketeers but the reality is, there is a sense of ever-increasing urgency for people, and the brands they engage with, to do better, be better.

The power of travel to change lives and benefit the planet

Every year US $8,000 billion goes into tourist activities Tourism is the fastest growing and most polluting industry worldwide. In response guests are both demanding more of the travel industry in terms of its green credentials, and exploring the idea that taking time out to do good for other people or the planet, can replace the idea of ‘fly and flop’.

Increasingly, travellers will expect their travel companies to measure and manage the impact their trip has, both in terms of energy consumption and the way the holiday affects the host community.

Overnight guests asking about carbon off setting increased drastically from last year’s uptake of 28 percent to nearly 50 percent this year. This demonstrates that guests are taking a big interest in making a difference at their stays. (Source: Greenview Green Lodging Trends Report, 2017).

‘Labelling’ of holiday packages will become more regulated, like food labelling, so customers can really see what they’re getting and how it affects the world. Fogo Island Inn, off the northern coast of Newfoundland has developed a principle they call “economic nutrition” where the inn’s onsite store features transparent price tags on every piece of stock, that break down the production process and where the money goes.

“There is a growing awareness of conservation and preserving the planet. People want to feel that they are helping the planet in some way through the travel choices they make, this needs to be made clear pre, during and post travel with content/talks etc. Brands need to take the lead in not having single-use plastics on board. The sustainable message needs to run through everything and people will respect a brand that is making a stand,” Lyn Hughes, Editor-in-chief / Founder, Wanderlust.

Juliet Kinsman, co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, believes you can have best of both worlds, a boutique experience that doesn’t cost the earth and has launched an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise Boutec, aimed at making it easier for consumers to find the most stylish, sustainable hotels in the world.

“We are seeing sustainable and purpose led travel evolve as people look for this mindset in all touchpoints of their lives. Particularly we are seeing this in the new notions of luxury, for instance Star Alliance and JetBlue are supporting NGOs, and Caring Conservation at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa resort are good examples – being part of the community and giving back is also increasingly important. For instance Alila luxury boutique brand who are socially responsible and connect to the local community and nature – this sets them apart from the rest, but the rest will increasingly follow,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.

Svart Norwegian Hotel

Svart Hotel, Norway

Svart, a Norwegian hotel at the foot of a glacier, scheduled for completion in 2021 will produce more energy than it consumes. The hotel reduces its yearly energy consumption by 85% compared to other modern hotels, and it harvests enough solar energy to cover both the hotel operations and the energy needed to construct the building. The sense of luxury comes from the location, and surrounding activities.

QO Hotel Amsterdam is housed in a purpose-built 21-storey ‘living building’. The hotel has also adopted an internal grey water system and, has an aquaponic rooftop greenhouse, which serves the restaurant below with over 70 varieties of herbs, vegetables, edible flowers and fish.

Up to 80% of the travel industry’s CO2 emissions are generated by the journey alone.

Train and boat trips are on the increase but in some cases, the journey itself is becoming the destination.

eXXpedition are all female voyages that aim to tackle the lack of diversity both in STEM professions and in exploration/sports events and the pollutants in the oceans and environment.

Kenyan boat builder Ali Skanda launched his Flipflopi boat, made entirely from several tons of waste plastic and covered in 30,000 discarded flip flops, into the Indian Ocean this month. The boat aims to promote innovative recycling technologies eliminating single-use plastics. The Flipflopi boat will now sail from Lamu in Kenya, 5,000km down the African coast to Cape Town in South Africa. As part of the expedition, the team will organize beach clean-ups and visit schools and environmental projects.


Within the series, we will look to explore further travel themes such as 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.