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TBWA releases Future of Travel report

Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit of TBWA\Worldwide, has released its Future of Travel report. The report is the third in Backslash’s “Future of” series, which explores what will – and more importantly what should – come next in must-watch categories.

For decades, tourism has been defined by volume. Predictable itineraries and cut-rate flights attracted the masses, taking a catastrophic toll on our most cherished destinations and the people who live there. But as the world begins booking post-vaccine getaways, the report predicts that a greener, smarter, more intentional era of travel is upon us.                                 

“The pandemic upended business and leisure travel as we knew it, and time away from travel showed us that we were ready for a reset,” says Agathe Guerrier, Chief Strategy Officer, TBWA\Worldwide. “While travel volumes are likely to remain depressed for a while, there are many new opportunities for brands to add value in the category. As often, the businesses that play a role in shaping the future will be the ones to secure their place in it.”

The report leverages cultural intelligence to unlock four opportunities for disruptive growth in travel and outlines specific ways for businesses to take action – whether that be through addressing untapped audiences, introducing new services, or investing in product innovation.

  1. The Great Redemption: A more mindful era of tourism will rebalance the scales, considering a place and its people as much as the traveler. Explore how anti-tourism, responsible restrictions, and AI will reset the category.
  • Anchorless Living: As we shift from one-off vacations to always-on travel, tourism companies will be forced to cater to a life in flux. Learn how remote work-mode, nomad concierges, and flex packages will pave the way for a new kind of business travel.
  • Travel’s Turn Inward: As travellers turn inward, itineraries will increasingly be built around the mind and body. Looking forward, psychedelics, interactive culinary experiences, and evidence-based amenities will be the markers of a truly transformative getaway.
  • Destination Unknown: The pursuit of new frontiers will redefine travel aspirations. Explore how hedonistic escapes, destinations at the ends of the earth, and the ability to create-your-own virtual adventures will bring magic back to travel.

Matt Kingston, TBWA Head of Strategy says: “The pandemic has changed, and will continue to change, the way we travel. This report is designed to help the travel sector navigate the uncertainties and opportunities of this new reality, as New Zealand considers how to reopen its borders to the world.  We know how tough travel and hospitality companies are doing it at the moment – we hope this report provides some inspiration and ideas.”

“Travel is at an inflection point. For decades we’ve enjoyed limitless travel without much guilt, but we’re finally realising that mass tourism comes with consequences. So while we may be booking fewer trips in the future, the trips we do take will be more intentional. And because of that we’ll see businesses start to shift their focus from high volume to high value, which is a really hopeful turnaround,” adds Cecelia Girr, Backslash’s Director of Cultural Strategy.

The Future of Travel report was born from months of in-depth qualitative and quantitative research, strategic ideation, and collaboration among 44 Culture Spotters from 26 global TBWA offices. These Spotters bring expertise from their work on some of the world’s biggest travel companies – from Hilton, to Singapore Airlines, to Tourism New Zealand.

The Future of Travel report can be downloaded at Backslash.com/FutureofTravel.

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