What happened?

Airports, airlines, hotels, travel agencies, and cruise operators are all increasingly tapping into the trend of meaningful travel. They’re trying to empower people to make meaningful changes in their lives through travelling the world (e.g. Airbnb Experiences), which is part of a larger shift within the consumer-economy towards self-actualization.

What does this mean?

We have previously noted that travel is part of our pursuit of altered states of consciousness, in which we can relax temporarily (escapism) or achieve meaningful transformation (transcendence). Meaningful travel is part of a broader shift within the global economy, in which companies increasingly position their products not as objects or experiences, but essential elements in the creation of an improved self. A Skift report notes that transformative/meaningful travel originates from outdoors adventure-travel. However, their research indicates that meaningful travel is increasingly achieved through traditional elements of travel that are being transformed, such as food, art, and, especially for millennials, entertainment.

What’s next?

Travel companies are tapping into the trend of meaningful travel by changing the way we experience travel. Airports are becoming entertainment hubs (e.g. Changi, Hamad International), airlines operate tours and host events abroad to direct traffic to their hubs (e.g. Singapore Airlines, Emirates), and hotels are becoming community spaces for locals and guests and provide immersive experiences (e.g. AccorHotels, Airbnb). Meanwhile, as travel acquisitions increasingly focus on strategic technological innovation and brands try to reduce friction (research notes that travelers visit 38 websites before booking a vacation), the travel industry could become more integrated.