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 second in a wider series assessing the Future of Adventure and Exploration, this article will comment on the spiritual travel movement, the gravitas of cannabis-tourism and the fast-approaching reality of space travel.
Voyages of Self Discovery
There is always more to learn, about ourselves and the world; this search for self-actualisation, meaningful connection and a sense of contentment is influencing how people spend their leisure time.
The global market for health and wellness reached £532bn in 2016, and is expected to grow to £632bn by 2021. (Source: Euromonitor International)
“I don’t like the word wellness but there is a growing spiritual movement of getting in touch with yourself and the earth. Wellness used to mean going to a spa now it’s things like forest bathing, spending time reflecting in nature. Northern Lights are popular for the same kind of reason – if you are properly prepared it can be very meditative. I definitely see growth in experiences that make people cry, feel overawed by nature, and provide an appreciation of something larger than themselves,” Lyn Hughes, Editor-in-chief / Founder, Wanderlust.
A more conscious conversation is beginning around wellness, away from a luxury spa-culture to something more accessible, inclusive and spiritual in multiple senses of the word.
“Wellness tourism is increasingly exponentially (as is the category overall) and is actually becoming a status symbol – whereas it used to be ‘I partied in Ibiza for opening and closing’ its now about having gone off grid and experienced an entirely new type of local yoga. Wellness is increasingly about embracing spirituality. Lumeria Maui retreat offers serenity, education, natural food and spirituality off grid, whilst in an urban environment the James Hotels’ new Four Bodies Wellness program that offers astrology readings, hypnosis Reiki and sound healing is just one example of how spirituality is becoming part of the wellness offering,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
Beyond mindfulness a holistic approach to wellness sees people recognise the need to escape and allow the mind to wander and disengage, often with the help of natural psychedelics.
Cannabis is now a booming $6billion plus industry in US, (Source: Marijuana Business Daily).
Gossamer is a publication for “people who also smoke weed” covering a broad scope of topics that include art, food, and travel—canna-tourism is on the rise as more travel brands recognise a growing opportunity.
Maine Greenyards is a cannabis-friendly bed and breakfast, located on 16 acres in Auburn. Guests are greeted with a goodie bag filled with marijuana grown on-site and are invited to indulge in activities such as hiking and amenities like an indoor pool and hot tub. The owners envision the estate as a winery of weed, with guests taking tours, learning about the growth and production process, and sampling the product.
As well as a desire to escape their day-to-day and reconnect with themselves, there exists a growing need in people to awaken their senses through shock and in some cases trauma. Social experiments and art installations are taking the idea of immersive entertainment to a whole other level.
Chapter Four of the multi-sensory Waldorf Project will launch later this year. Entitled Barzakh it will explore the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds. “Everything will be thought through and interwoven to give the guests a journey to the future where Emotion in its purest form will be your guide to connect you to yourself and others”.
Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky is staging a massive film-art project in the German capital of Berlin. Part of the Berlin Wall will be rebuilt to create a closed-off mini-state to host the world premiere of Khrzhanovsky “DAU”. Visitors to the parallel world will have to apply online for entrance “visas” and swap their cellphones for off-line digital devices with an algorithm that will suggest a personalised tour.
Creative thinkers are developing alternate realities that are still relevant in the physical world. What VR offers, is the ability to be in two, or more places at once, but also to experience some of our greatest hopes, and biggest fears without leaving our current situation.
In terms of virtual travel, the direction of change is away from solo to group experiences, and even better if that is without the encumbrance of a headset.
Culture Trip the London-based travel site founded by a psychiatrist and built on great travel content, recently raised $80 million in investment. Its move into event-based experiences is about making a group of people feel what it’s like to experience e.g. a night out in Seoul without leaving the country – it is like Secret Cinema meets long haul travel, meets large scale installations, using tech to deliver a communal experience. This is also part of a larger trend of travel platforms aiming to be full-service companies.
Maverick Danish collective Makropol have used VR to design a karmic journey into the afterlife. DOOM ROOM is a guided meditation with you as the main character. “One at a time a blindfolded audience of six enters a room. Here they kneel to embody a hunter with a bloody heart in his hand. They go through a spectrum of emotions and spaces that all try to make their heart beat. But by travelling through these constructed realities of hyper sensuality and suspension they find themselves searching for meaning, which in the end will resolve in their realization that they themselves are physically present in the only narrative available – their own,” Doom Room.
In some ways this exploration of mortality ties into the trend for psychedelic tourism – using VR to replicate mind-altering trips as a means of rest, relaxation and improving mental health. And on a lighter note In the Eyes of the Animal allows you to shift your perception of reality by changing species and being able to see the world through the eyes of another creature in a virtual forest.
The last frontier: As leisure space travel becomes a reality in 2020…
A Moon For All Mankind is the world’s first lunar gravity simulation VR experience, created in collaboration with NASA. The action takes place in a custom-designed simulator rig and ‘spacesuit’, which registers the user’s weight in real-time, offsetting it with accuracy to emulate the gravity of the Moon’s surface. These physical elements work in tandem with original mission content to transport users to a new level of experiential entertainment. Whereas Field Trip to Mars sets the immersive space experience in the real world, allowing the audience to get closer to the feeling of actual travel. A group of Washington DC school children boarded an ordinary school bus expecting an ordinary school trip, that in fact simulated the martian environment. Wherever the bus turned was rendered in real time in the landscape of Mars.
If all of this is not “real” enough Axiom Space, is the world’s first commercial space station. By 2022, Axiom Space hopes to be sending groups of ‘private astronauts’ into orbit. A ten-day mission is priced at US$55million and includes transport, accommodation and 15 weeks of training.
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.