I was part of a class at Oxford Brookes university last week. These were some of the trends and ideas I shared from personal observations over the last 12 months.
1. Community Experiences for All
Ok, so this is nothing new but are community tourism experiences now finally building up a head-of-steam? At Tribewanted we’ve seen an increase in the number of young families wanting their children to have authentic cultural experiences as early as possible in life, rather than simply resort recovery-time. This also seems to be happening alongside the reaction to the ‘McDonaldisation of Tourism’ (Golf-courses everywhere) that Leo Hickman argues convincingly in his book The Final Call. This is happening in the tourist guide space too – Tripbod offers ‘your friend at the other end’.
2. Digital Detoxing
We all knew this was going to happen. Right? Silicon valley uber-geeks heading to the hills at the weekend for an iLife amnesty, for a few hours at least. In reality this deliberate ‘disconnect to reconnect’ trend is something we’ve seen in our mirrors for a while. The number of surf n yoga retreats on offer shows this. But it feels like the need to hand-over our techno tools in order to relax and revive means we’ve reached a new point where a health problem at work is now an opportunity for travel and tourism.
3. Pop-up Hotels
Ok, it’s just glorified camping or Glamping as we know it. But by reframing and marketing as ‘pop-up’ alongside the trend in retail, are we likely to see this grow especially at events and festivals? This year we’ve seen it at Glastonbury and with urban pop-ups.
4. Home is your Hotel room
One name has dominated them all – Airbnb – who have successfully monetised the trend that Couchsurfing was the first to explode online. This year Airbnb is expected to book 55 million ‘bednights’. That’s 50% of any of the major hotel chains and the company isn’t even a decade old! As with the trust in crowdfunding their seems to be a growing acceptance of ‘staying with a stranger’ and the businesses that provide a great online user experience are profiting. See also: One Fine Stay, Housetrip, Sleepout, Kippsy.
5. The End of the Stars
Could 2013 finally be the year when industry-led star ratings are overtaken by peer-led reviews? Tripadvisor has been disrupting this space for a while. With the rise of guest and host locked-in review systems like Airbnb (you review each other) are we going to see less bitchin’ and more honesty? Do hotel stars still matter?