Frank Borman, a retired NASA astronaut, once said: ‘exploration is really the essence of the human spirit’. Now, you don’t have to go all the way to space for exploration. There are plenty of wild and unexpected adventures made possible by a short flight. It seems like more and more people share the beliefs of Frank Borman. Nowadays, more people are traveling, going to far-away destinations, whilst seeking more immersive experiences.
More than ever, we are looking for ‘exploration’ and not just ‘holidays’. It is changing the face of the travel industry. New niches are being created, with new solutions entering the market. Three core themes driving the disruption of the industry are demand for sustainability, future traveler’s needs and innovation.
Not only have we become more aware of making our travels a lasting memory, we are also seeking to make a positive impact on the destination we travel to. The travel industry has become the largest industry worldwide, increasing our responsibility to protect and preserve the places we love to explore. Travelling is associated with a large carbon footprint and the derogation of natural and cultural heritage. As we are becoming more aware of this, travelers are starting to demand green and sustainable alternatives at every step of the journey. Now, 70% of travelers expect companies to demonstrate a commitment to preserve the natural environment. Many local and national economies rely on tourism, yet many are starting to realize the negative impact of tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with mass tourism. Forcing the nation to take constricted action to reduce the number of visitors in its most popular destinations. Thus, there are many changes being made in the industry; new regulations, innovative technologies and sustainable alternatives to combat the bad rep of traveling as an environmentally polluting activity.
The Future Traveler
Travel is about consuming experiences, and we all want a unique experience tailored to ourselves. Technology is making this possible. In turn, technology is making the needs of the future traveler more complex and higher than ever. We want more out of each experience. Each encounter on the travel needs to be unique, memorable, adventurous, effortless and personalized. The future traveler has technology at their fingertips, with access to personalized information, whenever, wherever. Before the trip, technology allows for a more seamless integration of planning tools for easy booking of hotels and add-ons tailored to your interests. During the trip, the connected traveler can easily navigate their way through the final destination and easily discover the offers around you. As a result of social media, the future traveler is seeking unique experiences, going off the trail for a killer image. It is no longer possible to satisfy the needs of the future traveler without innovating and offering tailored services to the individual.
There are many technological innovations entering the tourism industry today. Crowdsourcing sites with reviews and advice make choosing restaurants and experiences easier. The sharing economy gives rise to new options in accommodation, such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing, as well as cheaper transportation and meal offers. Online platforms are making it easier to plan your holidays. Virtual reality is making it possible to experience your holidays before you go, to get a glimpse into what you can expect. Augmented reality can be your personal tour guide, tailoring the guide to your interests instead of a generic group tour. There are countless new innovations entering the market every day, improving our travel experience throughout the journey.
It is not a coincidence, that these three areas are in fact the three core themes covered for the Lisbon Tourism Summit. The Lisbon Tourism Summit is an event dedicated to the tourism industry; its innovators, challenges, and developments. Seeking to inspire, demonstrate new solutions and bring together key players in the industry.
As a final note, I will leave you with another quote. Some food for thought.
‘The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see” – Gilbert Chesterton.