Experiences are new social currency

People are placing greater value in experiences over possessions than ever before. According to the Next Big Thing consumer futurist, Will Higham, people are increasingly seeking out meaning in what they do, placing greater importance in experiences than possessions, and the memores and learnings gained from them. Future generations, he said, will care more about status updates than status symbols.

Nowhere is this prioritising of experiences over products most intensely played out than the travel sector, where an arms race has erupted among travel and hospitality brands in launching more immersive and multi-sensory ways to engage travellers and turn them into loyal consumers.

Which is why we have devoted the 2019 year-end issue of TTG Asia to experiences, as we take a deeper look at the experiential trends driving the global tourism sector, and how travel businesses are in turn responding to travellers’ demand for greater immersion and personalisation.

Airbnb is among the leading purveyors with its Experiences offerings, which has recently branched out into Adventure and Animal categories. Meanwhile, Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore is already offering distillery tours for residents to sniff out the local drinks scene, while The Travel Corporation is working with refugees to get travellers to better understand the underlying social fabric of Berlin.

As 2020 nears, travel pundits are predicting the rising interest in slow, purpose-driven travel. As well, the phenomenon of JOMO (joy of missing out) – described as disconnecting and being present at the moment – is becoming more commonplace as an antithesis to the sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) prevalent among today’s hyperconnected travellers.

But will JOMO, alongside other notable societal and behavioural shifts towards more environmentally responsible, carbon-friendly travel, dampen travellers’ desire to visit far-flung places and look towards domestic or nearby destinations to seek fulfilment from travel?

And if more people start opting for staycations and nearcations, would it be travel businesses’ turn to experience FOMO?

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