Not everything is about the future. I know, difficult to believe, coming from a company that offers predictor analysis as part of our skill set. But, more and more, people are looking for cultural context…and, to do that, a look into the past can be important.
It may have started with our quest to uncover our ancestry. Or maybe it was finding grandma’s handwritten recipes tucked inside an old cookbook or two. Maybe, with sequels and prequels now a common part of our entertainment mindset, we are simply looking for “the rest of the story.”
Our quarterly report produced at the end of Q4-2018 pointed out a number of areas where we are seeing what we call “shifts” in behavior—where there is a lot of movement and activity. One of those was around tourism. We’ve been watching tourism for a while now, particularly tracking how culinary tourism became “a thing.” Q4, though, pointed out something a little different: a new demand for tourism opportunities that showcase traditions from previous generations.
Here’s how we couched it in the report:
Tourism’s shift in focus to experiences and authentic cultural immersion
has created a new demand for travel experiences—one that reflects traditions
from eras today’s consumers have never known. Think of it as a “poor man’s
time travel,” allowing people to go back in time to reconnect or discover
something to help make sense of today’s world.
We’re seeing this lived out in Airbnb listings for things like stays with nomadic Mongolian Dukha reindeer herders, and with a desire for “sail-hitchhiking,” where travel by sailboat can take you to unexpected places. We’re seeing people feeding their interest in global cultures, people, and points of interest that wouldn’t normally appear on the tourist destination maps. The Department of Tourism in the Philippines is even getting into it, leveraging the area’s cultural heritage in a campaign that includes villages tours and education around their traditions and culture.
This new interest in old culture is a fascinating shift in how we travel—and it’s across generations. Perhaps our society is realizing that, sometimes, you have to look back so you can realistically look forward.