In the 1990 film Total Recall (a film set in the future in case you needed context), there is a memorable conversation between Arnie’s character, Douglas Quaid, and a travel agent, which goes something like this:
‘What is it that is exactly the same about every single vacation you have ever taken?’
Quaid: ‘I give up.’
‘You! You’re the same. No matter where you go, there you are. It’s always the same old you. Let me suggest that you take a vacation from yourself. I know it sounds wild. It is the latest thing in travel. We call it the Ego Trip.’
Now, the film is set in 2084, so a little ahead of our predictive curve, but the signs are that this scene will prove to be pretty prophetic if we consider where the travel and tourism industry is likely to be in 25 years’ time.
Three predictions for 2044:
- A seamless and personalised experience
It’s what we currently talk about as an ambition, but we don’t deliver it just yet. When we talk about seamless, we point to the decline of the intermediary. Consumers are more likely to buy direct from the supplier, creating their own bespoke packages. We’ll see the ubiquitous employment of biometric data and an ‘e-agent’ that goes everywhere with us (probably in a watch or pendant), analysing our searches, preferences and social media activity to develop detailed itineraries. This will lead to a level of personalisation, ease of access and speed of processing that is currently an impossible dream.
- New frontiers
By 2044, space travel is no longer just a reality for the ultra-rich. But perhaps the realisation that there isn’t much to see in space just yet (planetary tourism is still a way off) has led to a huge underwater tourism revolution. Currently, there is a move to develop a number of out-to-sea hotels (Dubai’s Water Discus Hotel is one), so expect this truly undiscovered landscape to be a big thing in 2044.
- ‘Experience’ before experience
VR (virtual reality) technology will have evolved into FIVR (full immersion virtual reality) and will have changed the way we experience almost every industry sector. As per our Total Recall example, people will indeed be able to visit a number of destinations throughout the globe without travelling and spending lots of money. Consumers will expect to be able to truly ‘try before they buy’.
So what do these developments mean for marketers?
- Consider your proposition
If you work for an intermediary, you are going to really need to focus on added value. As consumers take matters of travel more into their own hands, and suppliers hold the power to a truly personalised experience, the question really is why use an intermediary at all?
- Review your business models
Technological advancements will create new commercial opportunities, as some traditional ones (booking fees, cross-selling partnerships etc) fail. Businesses need to re-evaluate commercial opportunities, particularly those associated with FIVR.
- Understand your consumers on your terms
Don’t put up with off-the-shelf packages. Your business and its relationship with its customers is unique – or at least by 2044 it should be. Invest in bespoke data analysis solutions that suit your needs and ultimately those of your customers.
We couldn’t hope to cover all the changes and implications for the future of travel and tourism in this article. However, third-world markets as tourist destinations, electric planes that reduce our carbon emissions and a decline in snow-bound holidays due to global warming all warrant a mention.
We started with a cultural reference, so that is how we will end our look at the future.
‘You gotta go there to come back.’ Stereophonics
The River Group is a 24-year-old full-service content innovation agency based in Marble Arch, London. In an age of content spam, we don’t add to the noise, we make content designed around a simple consumer/brand value equation. Our content is a collision between the new science of digital and the old artistry of storytelling. We produce content for web, social and print.