Trend 1: Ubiquitous connectivity
In the future everyone’s life will be carried around with them in the palm of the hand, on their wrist or in other wearable devices. Access to information will define social status and identity and personal technology will be an ever-present companion – at home and on holiday. Wearable computing will be the norm – Google’s recent purchase of smart watch manufacturer WIMM Labs is a first step to making this mainstream.
Even more than today people will be “always on”, with technology providing a “sixth sense”, allowing us to operate as virtual beings. Our mobile communication devices (which will not look like anything like the phones of today nor will be made of the same materials) will be used to communicate, to inform ourselves in real time about the world around us, to document the minutiae of our lives and to manage our finances. More than today, a high speed, totally personalised media and sensory rich experience. Ultimately, it is likely that micro-technology will be embedded inside us, with the human body becoming a future computer interface.
Trend 2: Personalisation
In the future, the personalisation of everything will be the norm.
The more of our data we willingly share online with organisations, the more they will be able to tailor their services to our needs – whether they are needs we are consciously aware of or not. The availability of 3D printing, allied to higher level personal computing, will allow us to be designers, creators and curators of our possessions and our surroundings. From mass production, to mass customisation, to micro-personalisation, we will be able to express our individuality in every facet of our lives and this will include our holidays.
Trend 3: Flexibility
As technology allows our lives to become more spontaneous and less pre-planned, the more we will demand flexibility in every aspect of our lives – starting with the fundamentals. For example, our careers will be increasingly “portfolio” as Charles Handy first predicted in his book, “The Empty Raincoat”, with rapidly changing skills allowing greater independence and the ability to move job, industry and location, more frequently and easily. We may have returned to being a rental economy in our housing as a result of higher prices and the desire for greater mobility. We will see modular cars as the norm, and we’ll increasingly lease them short-term, rather than buy.
As our working hours become more erratic, possibly with the expansion of “zero hours”, (already used by one in four companies according to the FT in August 2013) into middle class life, we will become more short-termist in our planning and this will include holidays. We will expect to be able to change our minds up to the last minute, combine disparate destinations, alter the names on our bookings and design, barter and bargain for deals. The challenge for companies will be to not just respond, but embed flexibility into every aspect of their offer.
Trend 4: Premiumisation
As we aspire to express our individuality, we can anticipate a future where premiumisation exists in every market. Having been told for years “you’re worth it”, we will come to believe it. Ubiquitous information accessibility will give us the tools to research and demand constant product and service improvements. Companies will have to be more transparent in every aspect of their offers and we will pick and choose the modular make–up of our lives. In our holidays we will want the option to upgrade everything. Exclusivity will be sought at every stage of the process. We will not just pay for quality, but also for scarcity and rareness. Time, space and solitude will be aspirational as we live in a more crowded and pressured world.
Trend 5: (Re)connection
As family structures change, working lives become more fragmented, children mature earlier and spend more of their waking hours online, people are already increasingly concerned about the amount of true quality time they spend together. We eat together less as families; the traditional interaction around the TV has been diminished by more of us watching different programmes on second and third screens, even if we’re in the same room. Research by Ofcom in 2012 showed that more people text family members daily than talk to them face to face. Travel will, as never before, offer an antidote to this for many. A rare opportunity for real, rather than virtual, connection with friends, family and ourselves. An oasis of peace in our lives.
Trend 6: Discovery
While sea, sun and sand will be the main essential ingredient for the majority of holidays, a growing number of us will in addition have a desire for more significant experiences. We may want to discover unfamiliar countries, get a fleeting feeling of being an insider and part of a different type of community. Different levels of adventure will be part of the mix of future holidays. For families in particular, exploration will have to be safe and provided by trusted providers. We may be looking to expand our mental horizons, absorb culture and learning. Agri-tourism and eco-tourism are just a couple of examples. Increasingly we will want to return from our holidays as different people – more experienced and more rounded.
Trend 7: Simplification
If we think we are subject to information overload now, the sheer volume of digital material we will be exposed to in 2025 will have the potential to boggle our minds. As an antidote to this, services that will make our lives easier, that know or can anticipate our preferences and take the burden of decision making from us will be prized. Brands that we can trust to know us better than we know ourselves, that act as avatars and filters, will be rewarded with loyalty and bonding. We will often seek out experiences that are pared down to their bare essentials as an antidote to complexity. – a new cult of minimalism. In holidays, access to peace will be as precious to some as access to premium services. We may be prepared to pay to be deprived of technology, just to have a few hours away from screens in techno – free retreats. Escape will be rare, hard to find and either extremely primitive and cheap, or extremely cushioned and expensive.
Trend 8: Sustainability
Only joking. Despite millions being poured into everything from towel re-use schemes to airline miles offsets, most customers, it seems, really couldn’t care less.