2021 LIVING TRENDS – TAKE THEM OR LEAVE THEM?

2021 LIVING TRENDS – TAKE THEM OR LEAVE THEM?

2021 LIVING TRENDS – TAKE THEM OR LEAVE THEM?

 

On RISE we love examining which of the lifestyle changes from the past year people are keen to hold onto, and which we’re ready to drop…

 

Last week’s episode of RISE focused on how the forced WFH (working from home) culture impacting millions worldwide has had an impact on the Real Estate industry and how this also links to the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality industry. A fascinating connection between closed borders and opening of not only domestic tourism, but the domestic holiday home market. The lovely Dr Andrew Golding, CEO of Pam Golding Properties was our Exec in Residence, speaking with Anita and Demian about some of the lifestyle trends that have emerged globally – the consequences of working from home, traveling closer to home and investing more in home.

 

moving on out

 

Working from home has been normalised, virtual meeting an accepted way of working. Which is why business travel seems unlikely to return to previous levels in the mid-term. Then there are the zoom towns emerging outside of metro centres and commuter belts – often in holiday towns! Andrew mentioned that many of Pam Golding Properties’ clients feel that if they can work from anywhere, then they should seriously consider buying homes based on where they’d like to live. Living near the office is no longer an imperative. 

 

Many of us in the T,T&H industry don’t have the option of working from home. For those who do… the jury seems to be out on this phenomenon. Some love it, and others can’t wait to get back to their work spaces. There appears a strong correlation between working from home with young children and fleeing back to the relative peace and quiet of the office!

 

In our RISE polls last week only 6% of our viewers said that they’d enjoyed ‘nothing’ about working from home. This compared to 50% declaring that they’d most enjoyed the flexibility and time management advantages. Whilst there are obvious psychological advantages to working from home, there’s also the risk of burnout due to blurred boundaries between work hours and home hours. Some also find the disconnection and isolation from colleagues damaging to mental health. Evidence of the latter concern is supported by our first RISE poll on Monday, which indicated that 80% of our viewers were most excited by either ‘in person collaboration’ or ‘seeing colleagues/classmates in person’ when thinking about returning to the workplace. 

 

Moving on up

 

The prospect of continued work from home presents many of us with the dilemma of how to make it sustainable. We’re not talking about environmental sustainability here. Rather, we’re looking at how to make it work when we have multiple family members living and working in the same space. Again… this is not for everyone. If it is an appealing and viable option, there are considerations around living and working space. From a residential real estate perspective, this means we’re seeing an increase in consumers either upsizing and buying larger properties or renovating to increase living and leisure space. Andrew mentioned renovation trends including multiple home offices, increased living and leisure spaces, and the addition of home leisure facilities such as gyms, tennis courts, pools and spa tubs. The question is, are we likely to continue more home-based leisure activities, or will we be raring to re-join our community gyms and tennis clubs? 

Perhaps, the aim is to have the option of either. As Andrew says, ‘everyone needs to plan for uncertainty, and whilst it’s always been important, the living environment is now of paramount importance.’

 

Moving IN

 

Another emerging trend is to move the family home to the countryside, and live in a micro-apartment in the city, or a co-sharing space during the week. Both concepts originated before COVID19, but have become more popular, and possibly even more affordable than before, as business real estate spaces have been vacated with corporates and retailers vacating cities. Will co-living spaces emerge as the preferred option for first-time home buyers due to affordability as we move beyond lockdown? In addition to affordability, co-living spaces also have the potential to provide a bridge for recent graduates between living at home (or university) and living independently. 

 

Luxe living – bring on the bubbles!

 

This covers 2 of the new lifestyle ‘bubble’ trends – 

  • Moving into communities or gated estates in which work, home, leisure and recreation can all be enjoyed on one site. Examples of this are golf, equestrian or eco estates.
  • Multiple family groups – either relatives or friends moving into the same luxury lifestyle estate or community so they may remain proximal to each other in the event of further lockdowns. This is especially relevant for multi-generational families.

Whilst the advantages of these trends are obvious, so – we feel, are the disadvantages. Did someone say claustrophobia? Like most other lifestyle choices… a blissful option to some would have others running screaming for freedom – and variety – or on the other end of the spectrum, more privacy.

Whatever our lifestyle preferences, 2021 has served up some interesting choices as we move into the next normal, some which we may never have considered in our pre-pandemic existence. They’ll also have a significant impact on our Travel, Tourism and Hospitality business decisions as we pivot to respond to and embrace the changing ways in which our customers live their lives, spend their work and leisure time, and the changing locations in which they choose to do so. 

Wouldn’t we all love a crystal ball right about now?

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

ONE YEAR ON, TOGETHER WE RISE

ONE YEAR ON, TOGETHER WE RISE

ONE YEAR ON, TOGETHER WE RISE

RISE has just celebrated our Special 1st Anniversary episode. It’s been a year of contrasts. At the same time being a time of loss, of fear, challenge, uncertainty, and personal isolation, it’s also been a year of unprecedented innovation, of unity, camaraderie, and hope. And so, one year on, to celebrate this milestone, we paused to reflect, to share, and to re-inspire. We were proud to feature 18 of our almost 60 Execs in Residence from previous episodes – global leaders through 3 seasons of RISE who shared messages of their personal hopes for the future of our industry. Alongside them, our impressive, eloquent and intuitive EHL student guests Christina Klaas, Alex Radojevic and Lena Chan certainly gave us reason to feel optimistic that the future of Travel, Tourism & Hospitality is in highly capable and compassionate hands!

Responding to the personal nature of the messages, Lena’s unsurprised comment was that ‘the only way forward is to show that we’re united in our vulnerability.’ This simple truth inspired us to dig a little deeper and look at the personal insights we the RISE team gained this year. Some of them are more comfortable truths than others. Some are helpful, and empowering, and worth holding onto as we move into the future – into the next normal. Others are more uncomfortable realities that we’d like to either leave behind us, find a way of working with, or adjusting to so we can move forward.

We’ve all become more intimately acquainted with work colleagues – our humanity and vulnerability exposed as we’ve worked from home, juggling work and family life, giving others insight into our homes, through our virtual connection with the outside world.

This year has concentrated and amplified our experiences and reactions – good and bad. Love, gratitude, meaning and hope – also fear, loss, anxiety, and vulnerability.

Our RISE Team was inspired– and in some cases, prodded to dig a little deeper, and share with you what each of us have learned about ourselves this year.

 

GRACE

 

“The Power of the hug: I can honestly say I have never realised just how much I have taken a hug for granted.

We hug for many reasons: a hello, a goodbye, a thank you or a sorry. I truly believe it can fix so much. Throughout this whole year, it is what I have yearned for so much. There are many moments over this past year that stick in my mind, but the ones that really stir emotions are those that contain a hug. The first hug outside my household was with my sister when she was able to bubble with us, we held that hug until the tears stopped. Hugging my Nana at Christmas, nearly a whole year after I was last able to hug her, I never wanted to let her go. As we go into the “next normal” and as restrictions start to ease, there will be so many things that will return to an old sense of normality, but one thing I will not let return, will be me taking another hug for granted.”

 

SARA

 

“The importance of not taking small things for granted such as going to the gym/the office or seeing friends at a restaurant.  Also, saying “No” or “I don’t have time” to work tasks sometimes, to allow time to get out of my room (which is also my office) and get a change of scenery so that I can come back to work with more energy the next day.”

 

DEMIAN

 

“I like working barefoot.”

Translation: I’m a big hearted softie who cares more than I like to let on, and I’m worried that it’s starting to show!

 

JESSICA

 

“As much as I am disorganised as a person, when it comes to work or my family – I don’t like half-measures. With schools open and shut, work lives and routine changed from ‘before’, I had to learn to accept I could no longer attempt to give 100% of myself to every area of my life. When your kids are playing next to your desk, as you try and maintain some semblance of professionalism in a meeting, you learn that you can only do what you can do. I’ve learned that this is okay, well I am at least trying to accept that it is okay. Burning out won’t help anyone, so my big shift has been finding focus in those windows of normality. Being okay with the 60% days, knowing that a window will open again and I’ll be able to still deliver work that I’m proud of.”

 

mAnuel

 

It was a Thursday in January in the home office and I was so busy I couldn’t keep up with the work given to me nor would I have made the deadline ahead. I had just cancelled another meeting with friends when I realised it is alright to say: “I need help, I can’t do this alone”. It’s good to know your strengths, accepting help became one of them.

 

Joanne

 

“As a natural introvert, I realised how much energy I expend on presenting a more extroverted façade, because work and social life require it. There were parts of lockdown that felt more comfortable to me than ‘normal life’. The upside is that I’ve become more comfortable that this is who I am and that I don’t have to fake extroversion. The downside is that some aspects of getting out there again are quite daunting after a year of not having to. Fortunately even introverts like some social connection, and everyone seems keen for more real human contact now.”

 

ANITA

 

“The COVID-19 crisis taught me that as much as I, we, can all endure crises, it is usually for a limited period of time. This time has been different. It was long, hard, endless. Which has meant there was nowhere to hide, especially from colleagues with whom we usually manage our ‘on’ presence. Sometimes you just have to call off a meeting minutes before because a meltdown is just too near the surface. Sometimes you don’t notice the signs and the meltdown happens publicly. All times you just want to hide. This is where this time has been a strange gift – being able to find safety, kindness and understanding in the presence of people you never knew you could trust to simply let you be human, as scary and messy and grouchy as that may be. Because quite honestly, we’re all going through this scary time together.”

 

For many, it’s been a year of self-discovery. We’ve faced personal challenges, and discovered in ourselves, different strengths and vulnerabilities, but the one universal truth, as pointed out by Lena, is our ‘pent up demand for human contact.’ Alex shared his excitement at the prospect of getting together in person to work again, stressing how during his time of social isolation in Melbourne, he’d realised just how much we need social contact, and how “socialisation is important to survive.” In the context of employment, Christina emphasised how after this year, employee wellbeing will be an important consideration for any organisation.

 

A Psychologist’s view

 

We asked Clinical Psychologist, Shona Lowes of Equilibria Psychology, which lesson from this year we should carry with us into the future as we move beyond the pandemic, and for a tool to assist us in moving forward positively.

I think the pandemic has been an opportunity to pause our busy lives and to re-evaluate what is important to us in relation to work, leisure and social life. 

‘Reflecting on the past year can be really helpful to ensure you move forward in a way that suits you and meets your needs for social and leisure activities. Write in a journal all the thoughts that come to your mind in response to: 

‘What have I learnt about myself through this pandemic’

‘What have I enjoyed or engaged in more during the enforced lockdowns’

‘What did I miss or not miss from my pre-pandemic life’

Then write a plan for yourself going forward to ensure you continue with the things you enjoy and gain a balance that fits you.’

 

REaching out – Moving Forward

 

Finally, our Chief Wizard, Jessica says “This year the world’s collective trauma has been more transparent. So many loved ones lost, the world over, friends and colleagues losing jobs, and the lack of social connection that we still don’t fully know the consequences of. Reach out to those who are hurting, reach out to those who seem the strongest, we have all been through some type of trauma this year, and it doesn’t heal the minute the world opens again.”

All our RISE guests over the past year, have all been told that whatever happens backstage on RISE, it’s ‘because Jessica says so.’ The reason being, she’s a smart Texan who knows what she’s about, so if she says so, it makes sense, and there’s a good chance that everything will turn out just fine!

Speaking of moving on… next on RISE, we’ll be talking with Andrew Golding, CEO of Pam Golding Properties about one trend from the past year that we’ll be continuing into the medium term future – working from home! What impact has this had on Real Estate? Join RISE,  Anita Mendiratta, & Prof Demian Hodari (henceforth known as The Barefoot Professor) to find out!

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

COVID-19 OFFICIAL HOTEL QUARANTINE: WISH FOR A WINDOW FACING THE SUNRISE

At present there are 40.

At 04:00am on the 23rd of April there will be 41.

UK ‘Red List’ countries – nations worldwide viewed as a risk of COVID-19 importation due to surges and/or strains, making passengers arriving into the UK a domestic threat. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/transport-measures-to-protect-the-uk-from-variant-strains-of-covid-19

Sadly it is our enduring global reality. Over 400 days into COVID-19 still we are seeing cases increasing and new strains mutating all while vaccines are being injected.

It’s not the same everywhere – some places are finding solutions to stopping the spread, flattening the curve, controlling contact. The over-reactions are understandable. Economic and social paralysis cannot continue indefinitely.

Hence the Red List.

And the need official hotel quarantine for people arriving into the country from a Red List country, a regulation imposed in the UK mid-February 2021, already active in other nations across the world.

To be a traveller forced to face hotel quarantine is quite something – and something personally experienced earlier this month when travelling back to the UK from South Africa despite:

  • PCR test: negative
  • Test for Antibodies: positive (as had COVID-19 end of 2020)
  • Household: single person

Travelling during COVID-times is challenging enough: lack of fresh air and smiles due to masks, excessive layers of protective packaging on items, eats and other usually tactile aspects of the airline and airport experience. Readying for a 10-day, government enforced, hotel quarantine introduces a further layer of desensitisation to an industry that has always been highly emotive, highly immersive.

The technicalities are straightforward enough, that is of course only once you land and establish to which hotel you are assigned and how the days ahead will unfold. Up until then the feeling entering into it all is a concerning one as there is little advance detail, especially around exactly where you will be spending your 240 hours on the inside.

The cost of quarantine is significant, and unavoidable:

  • 10 full days (starting from the first sleep), and
  • GB £1750,

which covers,:

  • a room on one’s own (if a solo traveller),
  • three meals a day, and
  • a small degree of laundry servicing.

On landing at the airport (LHR in this case), one is immediately ushered into Immigration lines that set your pace and feeling of welcome, effectively those free to move as arriving from Green List countries (no quarantine or self-isolation required) or Yellow List countries (self-isolation required) redirected according to usual entry permit classifications (UK, EU, etc.) separated from those feared as arriving from Red List countries requiring hotel quarantine, regardless of entry permit classification.

Red List? Follow the red line.

The red line leads you from one escort to another – yellow vests – straight from passport control through baggage, into waiting areas, into a holding area, onto a coach across several hotels depending on where you’ve been allocated to quarantine. At the hotel entry is through a side entrance, into a briefing room, into a process of completion of forms: consent to stay, menu choices for the next 10 days, indication of timings of PCR tests (days 2 and 8), and then escorted to your room for the next 10 days.

Just keep following the yellow vests. Wait until they make contact.

The hotel experience is stripped away. The opportunity to make a guest feel welcome and enjoy the hotel is all stripped away. Rapidly, easily, it can feel like a human experiment. Pavlov’s dog suddenly makes sense. Three times a day you hear a knock on the door. Meal time. When the door is opened an elevated tray awaits along with, across the hallway, a warden in PPE…and yellow vest. On the tray is a brown paper bag within which are two to three little brown boxes. The little boxes containing the meal you have requested during on the menu sheets on arrival. Meal by meal, knock after knock, day after day, they arrive. Delivered by a yellow vest.

There’s no other human contact.

The hotel room itself is a bedroom. It is a bedroom in a branded hotel. The branding, however, is stripped away. There is no leaving the room unless escorted, and brief: 15 minutes maximum, whether it’s to walk around the parking lot of the hotel to get some exercise or for those who are smokers, to get a nicotine fix. Leaving the room is with a warden. A yellow vest. In the hallways stand monitors, in yellow vests.

The feeling? Especially in the first two days when the yellow vest system of quarantine controls become the routine? Punitive. Yet you have done nothing wrong. You are just there, behind the door, because you have to be, because you flew in from a Red List country.

It is easy for one to look at it and think that it is unnecessarily harsh. It is a psychological adjustment feeling as if people are looking at you as if you are contaminated. As if you are a combustible. As if you are dangerous.

But it’s not personal. It’s a pandemic, and this pandemic needs to be respected. Governments are doing all they can to contain the pandemic, to contain the spread. The loss of lives, the loss of livelihoods and the pressure on medical systems. One cannot fault extreme caution.

And then slowly, slowly, through the 10 days, you find these little glimmers of light,:

  • morning light that breaks through as the sun rises, stretching across the room to create a golden glow,
  • the light that comes from a cheerful yellow vested warden delivering a brown bag of breakfast with a smile and wish for a good day,
  • the lightness of heart that is felt when care packages of fresh flowers, fresh fruit, freshly baked gingerbread biscuits and other fresh thoughts arrive from loved ones hoping to lighten the mood,
  • the lightening of workloads and to-do lists as wifi lines and long days make for a period of high productivity,
  • the light touch of hotel staff calling to simply check in every 48 hours, making sure you’re okay, letting you know that they are there for those guests struggling being alone, inside, ongoing.

Interestingly, having spoken to the hotel staff the check-in calls are not part of the government protocols and their requirements to be a COVID-19 quarantine hotel in the proximity of an airport. It is just the hotel being humane, simply reaching out to make sure that you’re fine. During Passover they make sure that the menus have no bread. As Ramadan nears they check with the guests to make sure that the meals are being provided at the time of breaking the fast. Little sparks of humanity, of identity, through what initially felt like quite a dehumanising, identity-neutralising process.

COVID-19 has challenged the lives and lifestyles of everyone, everywhere, in different ways. This is just another of those ways. Importantly, no one is happy about the situation – not the government, not the hotel company, not the staff following protocols strictly, not the ‘guest’

It is not ideal. But it is also not hardship. It is just inconvenient. A test of patience. A whisper of humility. First World Problems.

The perspective? Vividly clear, especially in these time of immense loss. For millions upon millions around the developing and developed world, the circumstances equate to luxury: one is falling asleep in a clean bed, in a warm room with hot and cold running water, full plumbing, receiving three meals a day served with care. For 10 days.

The COVID-19 quarantine hotel experience is a unique one because, in addition to having everything stripped away, one is suddenly aware very quickly of all that they actually have. And importantly, the blessing of having a place to go home to once you have left the hotel.

All of this is about being able to work together to ensure that COVID-19 does not bring us all down. None of these regulations, none of these restrictions, none of these requirements and enforcements are what we wish for.

What we all wish for is safety.

What we all wish for is health.

What we all wish for is to be able to hug loved ones, to see the smiles of stranger.

In the short term, as we endure these discomforts and these inconveniences, these are small prices we need to pay for the long-term investment of making sure that once again, we can come together safely, securely, confidently. Whatever challenges we continue to face, whatever each day may bring, we are getting one day closer to all being released from this time.

And if there is one wish one can make that makes all the difference in our COVID-19 world: wish for a window that faces the sunrise.

 

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2021

 

How Has Your Relationship With Food Changed Over The Past Year?

How Has Your Relationship With Food Changed Over The Past Year?

How Has Your Relationship With Food Changed Over The Past Year?

 

Food, glorious food! What is your relationship with it? And has that relationship changed over the past year being locked in? We’ve all been there – alone with our cravings, needing comfort, deserving a reward, wearing stretchy waistlines! 

 

On Monday’s RISE, we made a meal of it – chatting with Barb Stuckey, President and Chief Innovation Officer at Mattson and Alex Hardy, Regional Director, Consumer and Market Intelligence at General Mills. We dished up rich discussion around food innovation from a business and consumer perspective, how those innovations have been impacted by the pandemic, which are here to stay and the trends we may see continuing. 

 

As you know by now, we like to dig a little deeper in RISE – AND SHINE. So this week, we’re asking how you’d describe your personal relationship with food after a year of pandemic-dining? “Is that a thing,” you ask? Yes it is! We just made it up. 

 

A Love Affair

 

 

Many of us, during a pandemic or not, do have an ongoing love affair with food. It’s usually there when you need it, it can be comforting, entertaining, and healing. What’s not to love? Well, too much of it isn’t a good thing, and most of us food lovers can attest to indulging more than usual over the past year – especially during the height of lockdown. If you’re a food lover who wasn’t one of those participating in solo charitable runs or following the exercise gurus doing online workouts, then chances are you’ll also have piled on some ‘lockdown pounds’ and the whole ‘foodie affair’ may have progressed beyond the honeymoon phase and descended into the ‘I need some space to rediscover who I am on my own’ phase.

 

A Love  – Hate Relationship

 

Who amongst us doesn’t relate to this dynamic? Especially when it comes to having to prepare meals ourselves, which we’ve all been doing more of over the past year! We love eating, but we don’t love cooking. We love eating, but we’re bored with eating at home. We love eating but we hate piling on the pounds. Notice how mostly, we do love eating! Alex Hardy said one of the trends he’d noticed was that a year ago people were initially enjoying cooking more, but then pulled back from it as they became bored with having to cook 3 times a day, 7 days a week. No need for a show of hands here… we’re united on this one! As Alex pointed out, businesses have taken note of this, and commerce has responded with innovations designed to ease this burden! We have only to look at the surge in popularity of pre–prepared healthy meal kits. We can’t be certain which idea we love more – not having to decide what to make, or not having to shop for specific ingredients. Both! We love both!

 

The Great entertainer

 

Food has always had a fun factor! Whether it’s the enjoyment of trying different recipes and styles of food preparation, or the entertainment association of going out to eat with friends – a meal has always had the potential to create a sense of occasion. In the context of this past year, we should probably separate this category into ME and THEM.

ME

Will we ever forget the sourdough and banana-bread baking phases of lockdown? Have nations ever been so united in baking experimentation? It’s safe to say millions of us around the world entertained ourselves at some point during this pandemic, by experimenting with food preparation. This increased interest in cooking seems likely to continue! Our RISE audience POLL 1 reflected that cooking from scratch is the behaviour most people (59%) will continue into the next normal.

THEM

Anita stated that “food has become activity, engagement, education and entertainment.” This is true for us as individuals but will also resonate with every parent out there who had to find ways of keeping kids entertained, engaged, and fed – all whilst working from home – but that’s a topic for another blog! For many of us, food has been a powerful aid in keeping our loved ones entertained, and constructively engaged in activity –  and with each other.

 

A HEALTHY DYNAMIC

 

 

Barb made the interesting point that we need to define what eating healthily means. For some of us it means eating ‘clean’, and eating ‘whole foods,’ or if we’re eating packaged foods, looking for recognisable ingredients. For others, eating ‘clean’ or ‘healthily’ means clean living, and eating sustainably for our environment. One of the food-related trends that she’s noticed over the past year, is that more people are making food choices based on environmental impact. This mirrors the more mindful and impact conscious tourist behaviours we’ve seen and discussed over the past year on RISE. Our RISE audience Poll 2 indicated the majority of our viewers (71%) are eating more healthily now than they were a year ago. Does this have to do with taking a proactive approach to fighting the virus, and giving ourselves the best chance of staying healthy? Alex mentioned this as another one of the food-related trends, leading to innovation over the past year. With people recognising immunity boosting value in food, he says he’s seeing “nature and science coming together in how we look at food.” 

 

 

I’m ALL ABOUT MOVING THROUGH THE STAGES

 

 

As with all these discussions, it’s possible you see a little of yourself in each of these food relationships. We may feel that our delightfully complex relationship with food contains many facets all at the same time, or some of us may feel we’ve progressively waded (or waddled) through all the different stages! 

 

Food relationship aside, who else just can’t wait to eat somewhere other than at home? It doesn’t matter that we’ve supported our local restaurants, and mitigated our ‘kitchen fatigue’ by eating restaurant take-outs at home. That was great for a while and eased the boredom and the monotony of home cooking. It doesn’t, however, replace the thrill, entertainment value and sense of occasion that we derive from getting out there and eating out. This will surely be good news for all the publicans, chefs and restaurateurs out there who can’t wait to welcome diners back to their establishments! Bon Appetit!

A special invitation to our RISE community across the world – Save The Date!! Next Monday, April 26th, is for our very special 1st Anniversary of RISE! Join us as we celebrate how far we’ve all come together over this past year. RISE was created with you, for you, because of you – so please join us as we celebrate you –  our outstanding RISE community. Some of the truly inspirational Executives in Residence we’ve featured in previous episodes of RISE will share their hopes and expectations for their businesses one year on. We are all so excited, but this RISE 1st Anniversary milestone would not be the same without YOU. See you there!

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

 

WHAT’S YOUR 2021 TRAVEL VIBE?

WHAT’S YOUR 2021 TRAVEL VIBE?

WHAT’S YOUR 2021 TRAVEL VIBE?

 

“There’s a travel vibe?” you ask. “Of course, there is” we say. How do we know this? Because we spend every week on RISE asking our viewers and our guests what’s happening in our Travel Tourism and Hospitality (TT&H) Industry and asking how you’re all feeling about various topics. So – what we can tell you is that the majority of people want to get out there!

 

Monday’s episode was called Gen-Z: Breaking Free! Click the link below to hear what our guests Adam Armstrong, CEO of Contiki Holidays and Eduardo Santander, CEO & Executive Director of the European Travel Commission & Chairman of the European Tourism Manifesto had to say about this interesting sector of the market, but first –  for fun we’ll have a look at the traveller vibe you most identify with, whether you’re Gen-Z or a Baby Boomer!

 

In our second poll, we asked our viewers, apart from the universal reason of wanting to reconnect with loved ones, “Why are you aching to travel again?” The majority of you – 35% said it was “to feel alive and some sense of normality again!

 

‘TAKING BACK MY LIFE!’ TRAVELLER

 

We think many who gave this answer would identify with this travel vibe! Some call it ‘revenge travel’ – a term that emerged early on in the pandemic. RISE (particularly Anita) is not really a fan of the ‘revenge’ term. But we get the point. Whether it’s to take revenge on the pandemic and reclaim our lives, our plans, our holiday or personal development dreams, we are bursting with pent-up desire to get out there again and get on with our lives. We guess that many of our 18-35 year old viewers –  in this context referred to as “generation desperate” will also fall into this category. Grad trip, gap years, work experience, cultural exchanges, and honeymoons – these are all important life-stage experiences that have been missed or deferred, and what better way to prove that we’re undefeated and undeterred by this experience than to just get on with it? Hopefully the majority will do so safely and with due regard to the protocols so that we can all finally move out of lockdowns and restrictions! Demian’s video of Spring Break in Miami and the resulting state of emergency are a good example of how revenge travel can go wrong!

BUSINESS AS USUAL, EVEN IF UNUSUAL

 

This travel vibe may sound more matter of fact, and a little less exciting than exacting revenge, but many of us, from all the age demographics identify with it. We may not be desperate to travel at any cost, but we’d dearly love to be able to move about safely and  practically – to resume our business travel and to get back to taking family gatherings and special occasions for granted. We’d like to see our communities and businesses revived and have tourists back at our destinations.

 

CAUTIOUS

 

Paradoxically, those of us who may have fallen into this travel vibe, partly due to our life-stage demographic, and the resulting greater threat to health, are now the ones who’ll be front of the line when it comes to planning and booking our getaways! Adam referenced the fact that the generation most desperate to travel are at the back of the queue, and the older generation who’ve had earlier access to the vaccine are the ones who’ll be out there fastest! That’s not to say we can’t be cautious across all generations and demographics! Our caution may also be around protecting others, or fear of restrictions. Anita mentioned “the risk of travel is no longer the disease – the risk of travel is lockdowns, quarantines, regulations changing, and borders closing.” The challenge for us cautious travellers is that like everyone else, but to a greater degree, we’d love a little predictability. Eduardo referenced the challenge our industry faces in providing the predictability desired by tourists, stating that tourism is based on predictable facts, and we aren’t currently able to make many predictions!

RESOLUTELY MINDFUL

 

We’re not saying you can only identify with one vibe! We’ve spoken consistently over the past year of the momentum gained towards sustainable and mindful travel. We don’t like to speak too much about trends during a time when nothing about travel is predictable, but there are strong indications that across all demographics, mindful and conscious travel is an important factor in our travel decisions. So, there’s a strong likelihood, especially if you’re a “youth traveller,” that you may be plotting your revenge on this pandemic, planning your escape, all whilst choosing to leave the gentlest footprint possible! We can be great multitaskers too!

 

NO INTEREST

 

3% of our viewers in Poll 2 stated you “have no desire to travel right now.” Perhaps it’s the lack of predictability or the concern around the way others may behave, but for some, if we’re fortunate enough to have loved ones close by – the impetus just isn’t there right now. A holiday season, safely ensconced at home with loved ones, enjoying our local community and what it has to offer, or beginning to rebuild and reclaim other aspects of our lives and liberty stolen by this pandemic is just the right vibe for some of us!

Whatever your travel vibe, and whenever you feel ready to make your break for the freedom it offers, we can be secure in the knowledge, as Eduardo pointed out, that travel will always prevail. He also highlighted that ‘the purpose of travel is changing massively.’ Change may be daunting in its unpredictability but it’s also exciting – and in the case of our  TT&H industry, many of the changes we’re seeing indicate progress in securing the survival of our industry, our destinations, and our natural resources. Whilst acknowledging our losses, we do also like to keep an eye on the positives that have come out of this pandemic!

 

Next on RISE we’ll be “Making a Meal of It” and chatting about food innovation and trends with fabulous guests Barb Stuckey, President and Chief Innovation Officer at Mattson, and Alex Hardy, Regional Director, Consumer and Market Intelligence at General Mills. Join us. Same time and place!

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

 

COVID-19 ONE YEAR ON. THE SOOTHSAYER TRIED TO WARN US

They are words of warning recognised the world over, a literary conversation well known. If only Caesar had listened – if only we had listened:

Soothsayer. Caesar!

Caesar. Ha! who calls?

Casca. Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

Caesar. Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music, Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer. Beware the ides of March.

Caesar. What man is that?

Brutus. A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Caesar. Set him before me; let me see his face.

Cassius. Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

Caesar. What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.

Soothsayer. Beware the ides of March.

Caesar. He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

(Julius Caesar, Act 1 Scene 2 – William Shakespeare)

The first warnings came on December 31, 2019 when the WHO first reported the existence of a novel strain of Coronavirus, COVID-19 to be exact. Then came the next warning on January 30, 2020 when the WHO raised the volume of its warning, declaring the COVID-19 outbreak to be a global health emergency.

By March 11th  classification was raised to ‘global pandemic’.

By the Ides of March, the world was shutting down – borders, skies, businesses, schools, centres of faith, our homes – we were told to close in, quickly, before this invisible curse now known as COVID-19 caught us out. Wave 1 had begun….

Now, one year on, echoes of those ominous warnings continue to be heard. March 11th, 2021 marked the end of a year that has been beyond anyone’s expectation and imaginations. Depending on where one was in the world, throughout March 2021, year one markings unfolded of lockdowns first imposed, the first time we got a sense that life as we once knew it was no more. March 23rd for we from the UK. By the final day in March 2021 the WHO’s freshly released report on the origins of COVID-19 is being rigorously reviewed and remarked upon.

In just one year this one virus has taken over 2.8 million lives, denied billions their basic liberties, and cost trillions in livelihoods. New strains are being discovered in tandem newly approved vaccine being rolled out. New waves are threatening. renewed strength is increasingly hard to find. In just one year one truth has emerged that everyone has had to face: there is no escaping the trauma of COVID-19, even if one escapes falling prey to the virus itself. Everyone has lost something, someone, somewhere. Everyone has suffered in some way. No one has been spared.

Unlike any crisis experienced in our generation, this pandemic has completely erased not just borders between nations, but so many lines we used to put in place in our individual lives:

  • Office vs home,
  • Day vs. night,
  • Weekends vs weekdays,
  • Business vs. pleasure,
  • Professional vs. personal,
  • On vs off.

Blur now exists where once there were lines, this blur an operating space that must be bravely navigated – destination unknown, duration unknown, all within a context of immense, intense trauma. Genuine trauma.

The trauma has been real. It has been prolonged. It has been profound. It has been personal. The blur has been accented by deep, undeniable, inescapable, and surprisingly, often very visible ache.

Tears have fallen uncontrollably.

Cracks have been revealed unexpectedly.

Fear has closed us in illogically.

Faith has been tested deeply.

Interestingly, this shared reality, this exposure, has afforded us the opportunity to turn trauma into a lifeline, forcing us all to come closer, to be more real, more human, more understanding and more compassionate with those around us. To encourage, without judgement or hesitation, others to reach out and grab hold.

Why? Simply this: the shared trauma we have all experienced has, while differing in individual situations, circumstances, characteristics and complexities, allowed us to care more – to care more honestly, more deeply and more transparently with those who truly provide us the focus, the purpose, the energy, and the hope we all need.

COVID-19 has been the most democratising challenge our world has ever faced.And uniting.

This pandemic has united us – all of us across the world, across the country, across the room – making vividly clear,:

  • WE ARE ALL HUMAN – forced to dig deep each and every day with a stamina we have never demanded of ourselves, and others, before;
  • WE ARE ALL HURTING – recognising that everyone is feeling pressure, feeling loss, feeling fear;
  • WE ARE ALL EXHAUSTED – respecting that everyone is carrying a heavy load, needing rest, needing to feel safe;
  • WE ARE ALL LONGING – knowing how we all ache to touch, to feel, to breathe, once more;
  • WE ARE ALL BONDED – united in our refreshed awareness that we all need care, kindness, compassion and courage from one another.

For all of the uncertainty still facing us all, especially the layers of mental health, economic and societal crisis that will emerge, rapidly and painfully from COVID-19, reasons for hope still exist, hope we all need to hold onto, a lifeline pulling us all forward, whispering to us a reminder us that through tragedy can emerge tenderness, through trauma can emerge healing, through darkness can emerge the dawn.

The soothsayer somehow knew. x

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2021

 

TRAVEL: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO YOU?

TRAVEL: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO YOU?

TRAVEL: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO YOU?

 

It’s been a year! A whole long, messy year since international borders closed and travelers dashed back home – fearful of the COVID19 storm in the midst of which we’ve found ourselves. On March 11th the WHO reminded us that it was one year ago that a global pandemic was declared. Since then we have scurried to the relative safety and shelter of our homes. We settled in to ride it out, and awaited news of what exactly we were dealing with, and how long it would take to ‘blow over.’ We were grounded – literally locked in. 

 

So often we want what we can’t have – but this time was different. At first many of us didn’t have any desire to travel. Whether it was fear, or a sense of responsibility to adhere to safety protocols, to protect others, and our medical infrastructures – most of us were willing to give up travel for the greater good. When we felt a little more confident, we travelled locally, more often than not only to see loved ones. We travelled with a strong sense of purpose – to connect with those sorely missed rather than for fun. Our motivations changed – the meaning of our travel changed – which begs the question: has this past year cost us the freedom to think of travel as just being fun?

 

THE VALUE AND VALUES OF TRAVEL

 

A year in, we can look at where we are now, in relation to where we were then, and assess the value that travel holds for us – and also how the values of travel have changed!

 

PERSONAL ADVENTURE

 

Travel has always been about adventure, about exploration, and personal growth. From the earliest explorers who discovered continents, to family holidays booked in far-flung destinations where we discover new sights, flavours, people, cultures and ways of life; Travel has always had at its heart an innate spirit of adventure, awareness of other ways of being, and of the importance of understanding more than just our own perspectives!

 

FREEDOM

 

“Getting away from it all.” It’s more than an expression. When we travel, even slightly outside our usual environment, it brings a sense of liberation. A change of scene creates a sense of escape from our everyday reality. The change in perspective  frees us from feeling trapped in the sameness of our everyday lives. Dr Andrea Robinson PHD says, in her APA article 4 Reasons To Take a Vacation that “Vacations can also improve our mental health by reducing depression and anxiety.” At RISE, we’d go so far as to call it a form of therapy!  

 

RITES OF PASSAGE

 

Students take grad trips and gap years to celebrate the end of education and the beginning of adulthood, as well as to make a difference and discover themselves whilst doing some good and adding value to others. Newly-weds honeymoon, expectant parents go on babymoons, and empty nesters and retirees go on extended holidays and cruises to celebrate their re-discovered freedom from responsibility. All these holidays have traditionally been ways to mark and celebrate happy transitions and periods of personal growth and development. Has this changed? We hope not!

 

Connection!

 

We gave this an exclamation point because it’s such an important and all-encompassing reason! It probably shouldn’t be in a category of it’s own because it’s a thread that runs through all the reasons for traveling. We travel to connect with people and places for reasons of business and for leisure. What has changed in the past year – and this has been mentioned repeatedly through the 3 seasons of RISE – is the shift in the purpose of travel. People have cited, and it seems in the short term at least, will continue to cite connecting with loved ones as their primary motivation to travel. This doesn’t mean that people will only travel to see loved ones. But current and short-term future holiday plans are focused more on family and friendship bubbles traveling together for the purpose of meaningful reconnection as well as all the reasons we’ve already discussed.

 

Livelihoods

 

This is where discussing the value and values of travel becomes real! For individuals and organisations, for many of you, our RISE viewers included, for business sectors, local communities and entire destinations across the globe, travel determines our very livelihood. Having the world ‘grounded” and unable to travel has threatened the very survival of many. 

 

In last Monday’s episode of RISE, our brilliant guests Kelly Craighead of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Bernhard Stacher – VP Global Hotel Operations MSC Cruises discussed the interdependence between tourism and destinations. With reference to the cruise industry, our RISE panelists highlighted the importance of a balanced relationship between tourism partners. Demian Hodari referenced the dependence of many tropical island destinations on tourism in his Headlines, sharing that the majority of tropical island countries depend on tourism for more than 50% of their GDP. Whilst prior to the pandemic, many destination islands expressed concern over tourist overcrowding related to cruises, Bernhard feels that post pandemic, there is now an elevated appreciation from destinations for the tourist revenue brought by cruises. 

 

opportunity

 

Anita feels “one of the blessings of this time is that it’s changed the value and values of tourism.” This perspective is clearly shared by many. It came up in SEASON 3 EPISODE 1 when both Robin Tauck and Adrian Gardiner spoke of the importance of focusing on the impact of tourism on destinations, as well as the rising importance of and desire for an emphasis on conscious and sustainable tourism among travelers. People want to do better and be better! Organisations such as Tourism Cares have been harnessing the “transformative power of travel” for 20 years. Their belief is that “while each of us alone can make a small difference, businesses bound together in purpose and action can literally change the world.” 

This pandemic has been a blight on the world and on our Travel, Tourism and Hospitality (TT&H) industry in particular – but what a gift it has given us in creating a renewed appreciation for what we’re missing, and propelling the growing momentum of desire for change, for positive impact and a greater personal and social accountability to others.

As we cruise into the next normal, with restrictions easing, and borders re-opening, most of us will be mindful of our safety bubbles and the safety of those around us.  We have it on reliable authority from our guests this week that “cruise bubbles” are a great way to go! Kelly says cruising is “a terrific experience which has been enhanced in terms of safety and service because of the increased staff to customer ratio.” Also, safely planning your vacation, whether it’s a cruise, hotel or holiday is helping others by stimulating our industry, and the economy of the surrounding community! What a great way to feel you’re making a difference – we know – it’s not exactly altruistic, but you are helping, it’s true!

Today we have a very special additional RISE episode which will be part of the Young Hoteliers Summit! TOMORROWS’ TRAVEL: TAKE IT FROM THE TOP! features Hon. Minister Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife for Kenya and Dr Hannah Messerli, Senior Private Sector Specialist, Markets and Technology from The World Bank. They’ll be talking more about the impact of travel on destinations. This is an especially important topic for our young TT&H professionals of the future! 

If you’re in the 18 – 30 age bracket, you’ll enjoy further discussion around planning your holiday escape in our next, usual RISE slot the following Monday – 29th March in our GEN-Z: BREAKING FREE! episode. No prize for guessing what that one’s about! 

In the meantime, go and plan your next holiday! Go on… you know you want to! 

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE. 

 

 

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL – WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AFTER ALL?

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL – WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AFTER ALL?

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL – WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AFTER ALL?

 

Confession time! This title was boldly and unapologetically swiped from the lips of Anita Mendiratta. Our last episode of RISE was about the business of personal transformation. As Anita and Demian examined the idea of personal transformation – assisted in their enquiry by our brilliant (and literally transformative) guests Dr Clare Neser and Mia Kyricos – it became clear that the most important question we should ask ourselves is “why?” Apart from prompting Anita’s witty one–liner used as our title today, this question also presented itself as the obvious line of investigation for RISE – AND SHINE this week!

When we asked you, our viewers “what have you focused most on improving in the past year?” the majority, 31% of you answered “my health and fitness,” followed by 28% who said your skillset. Mia was unsurprised by this result, stating that “at times of change, people look for transformation.” What was a surprise was that no one, not one viewer, stated that they were focusing on their appearance!

 

What is Transformation?

 

It’s defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “A marked change in form, nature, or appearance.” And when asked by Demian how they defined it, Mia said that for her it’s about “transforming to the next best version of yourself.” Clare agreed, observing that after being “cocooned in restrictions” people are then “unleashing their potential and making the most of themselves.”

 

WHO?

 

BUSINESSES 

We’ve discussed over the past 3 seasons of RISE how each sector of our Travel, Tourism & Hospitality (TT&H) industry, like other industries, has needed to dramatically pivot. Re-imagining and re-inventing the way we do business to survive the changes brought by this pandemic has been central to re-engineering for the new world of travel that awaits us all. For many it’s been a question of survival, and for some – tech being an example, it’s been an opportunity for unprecedented growth. Not only are companies improving the way we do business in order to remain relevant and profitable – there’s also been a much-needed prioritisation of employee wellbeing.

SOCIETY

Being forced to pause and reassess our impact on the planet, on our communities and on each other, led to many of us feeling a call to duty – to action, and a sense that together, within our communities and organisations, we could and should effect change, do better, and be better. Also, interestingly, this pause has allowed us to look very closely at the decisions we make in our daily lives and how these impact our greater sense of wellbeing within our communities. Are we taking care of ourselves so we can help take care of others? 

INDIVIDUALS

This leads to an interesting angle. Mia made the valid point that “we’ve all had to hold the mirror up in some way.” To some extent self–evaluation has been driven by the extra time we had in 2020 when forced to pause. We’ve used this time to reassess who we are, and whether we’re happy with what we see – both physically and psychologically. We’ve had time to think about whether we’re happy, fulfilled, and healthy. For many, the risk and fear of falling ill brought home the need to improve our physical health and literally… our chances of survival.

 

TYpes of transformation

 

Our 2nd RISE viewer poll indicated that people are invested in improving their health and fitness, their skillsets, their relationships and their education.  As mentioned before, an interesting anomaly was that none of our respondents indicated an interest in improving their appearance! This feedback is not supported by the evidence of an increased uptake of surgery to improve facial and body appearance. Clare believes, in the case of her practice that this was stimulated by lockdown. The recent upsurge in these procedures is variously attributed to:

  • The opportunity for recovery time at home, behind closed doors
  • Our increased online interaction and the reality that many of us aren’t happy with what we see on our zoom screens
  • Disposable income that would previously have been spent on travel and entertainment 

 

Why, and why now?

 

This is the most important question! 

What makes us want to change anything about ourselves? This question has been partially answered in terms of:

  • The opportunity the pandemic provided to be better and do better
  • The necessity for survival of businesses and individuals

What we haven’t discussed is that taking action, transforming and improving ourselves provides us, psychologically with a sense of taking back control during a time when we feel we have little or no control over outcomes. 

Lack of control and an inability to predict what tomorrow will bring leads to a sense of powerlessness and fear. Controlling in some small way, any element of our lives, whether it’s improving our diet, fitness, skillset, or relationship gives us comfort in the ability to predict and manage whatever area of our lives we can!

 

What does it all mean?

 

Will the momentum of positive change continue beyond the pandemic? Will the self-healing, the improved wellbeing, the prioritisation of self-care and care for others remain part of our next normal? Or will we revert to old habits once we’re able to move about freely again?  What improvements have you made, and which are you determined to maintain? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

On that note of positivity – next Monday on RISE it will be “SMOOTH SAILING?” featuring Kelly Craighead, the President and CEO of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), and Bernhard Stacher, VP of Global Hotel Operations, MSC Cruises.

No better Execs in Residence to give us a sense of how smooth, or choppy, the waters are ahead. We look forward to welcoming you on board!

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE!

 

INSPIRING UNITY THROUGH HEARTBROKEN COMMUNTIY

The global hospitality community has always been one of exceptional leaders – people who have dedicated their lives to taking care of, protecting, serving, and celebrating others.

Why? Because hospitality has always been about welcoming people into one’s home, whether ‘home’ is a B&B, a major hotel, a resort, a private property, a boutique establishment or a shared space. Hospitality is ultimately about home. True hospitality leadership is, and always will be, about honouring this truth.

Just days ago the global travel community suffered an incredible loss. With great shock and sadness, news spread – news that caused us all to look twice, check sources, question its truth, and quietly pray it was not so. At a time of endless hardship, heartache and helplessness for millions across the globe, news of the passing of Arne Sorenson was haunting. Following a long period of struggle with pancreatic cancer it was his time to rest.

The news was something that no one was ready for because he was a man that no one in the international hospitality community was ready to let go. Immediately messages of grieving were passed around the world from community to community: across hospitality, across C-Suite peers, across friends. Shock and sadness eclipsed protocol and policy. Outreaches were in every direction as the hospitality community in every part of the world felt a sense of loss. Whether one had at one time shaken his hand, or simply heard of his life’s work, all were shaken.

Remarkable about Arne was not purely his example of excellence as the President and CEO of Marriott International – the company’s first leader not Marriott blood-family, but the way in which he created an international, thousands-strong family across Marriott. Surprisingly for many, the bonds of grief formed by his passing reached beyond the business to touch the wider global hospitality community, stretching to the highest levels, across colleagues and competitors alike. Spontaneous, unfiltered statements of sadness were penned by our industry’s elite, its elders, its everyman and everywoman. As divided as we have all been this past year – grounded as a result of borders, skies and doors being forced closed – and often working in parallel yet apart towards safe, secure, sustainable restart of our essential sector, news of the loss of a pillar of our community found us, in an instance, united.

In this moment of pause, prayer, for for many, pangs of loss, it feels a powerful message has been whispered, one that will hopefully be a part of the DNA of our shared Travel & Tourism future: future leadership is not purely about monitoring and managing the numbers, nor the traditional industry metrics. Leadership in the future is about protecting, promoting and passionately uniting those in the hospitality community – the visitors and the visited, the leaders and the loved ones – building meaningful, quantitatively and qualitatively measurable bonds through our life’s work in our essential industry, recognising that through these times of historical challenge, ‘essential’ has become an adjective to describe fundamental value and worth.

Whether hotel industry competitors, colleagues, former classmates or future confidantes, Arne inspired all in the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality sector to recognise that, first and foremost, hospitality is about taking care of one. He bravely stood before the cameras in 2020’s early days of the pandemic to inspire courage, compassion, hope and unity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6af2lVfDDk.

Today, a year on, he has done it once more. https://twitter.com/marriottintl/status/1362920882990174209

Arne Sorenson has left a legacy of exemplary leadership not only as a hospitality professional and practitioner, but as a person. In leaving our community, he opened our shared community heart. He opened our ability to spontaneously reach out to one another and simply say, without agenda, without any intended outcome, “I’m sorry for your loss”. This has been, it feels, a parting gift, for at this time when our incredible industry continues to suffer inexplicable loss, the ability to look around and see who still cares, is invaluable.

Rest well, fine Sir. x

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2021

 

 

In Search of Meaningful Connections

In Search of Meaningful Connections

In Search of Meaningful Connections

 

What is the one thing that has been most disrupted by this pandemic? No question about it: our freedom to connect in person, physically with other people and places. Our physical, sensory experiences have been curtailed. We’ve retreated into the virtual, digital world of online relationships with family, friends and colleagues. Our physical connection with places has diminished to a small radius of only “essential” interactions.

 

 DisconnecteD

The result? A sensory disconnect that has created a strange dichotomy of both craving and fearing physical reconnection with our greater world and community.

“What does this have to do with Season 3 Episode 3 – Retail Therapy” you ask? Well – we explored the relationship between retail, travel and tourism, with invaluable insights offered by our guests Andrew Jennings and David Green. As you know, in RISE – AND SHINE we like to dig a little deeper and understand more about the human behaviours driving the decisions we make. We also like to check in with our viewers and get a sense of where you are in this – which is why we have our RISE viewer polls. Some interesting patterns are apparent.

 

Meaningful Connection

 

The common thread that seems to run through the choices we’re making is our pursuit of a meaningful connection. Our need for meaningful connection includes:

  • connecting and identifying with ourselves and who we are 
  • connecting to the people inside and outside of our ‘bubbles’ 
  • the way we connect with places – from our local communities to our choice of shopping and holiday destinations.

Connection with ourselves

Over the past year, we’ve seen the increased focus on self-improvement, re-invention, and making decisions in our personal and professional lives that re-examine who we are versus who we want to be. In some cases, this has been forced by changes in personal circumstances such as unemployment. In others, the pandemic has simply raised questions which have redefined our personal priorities, and our definition of ‘meaningful.’

On a consumer level, we see this reflected in the rise and rise of personal improvement and work out apps –  and the increased expenditure on luxury retail as people ‘treat’ themselves to compensate for missed holidays and entertainment opportunities. We need a treat if not a break! 

In our next RISE episode “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”, we’ll also be looking at the increase in cosmetic procedures and “wellness” tourism, but we digress…

 

Connecting inside our bubbles

 

As our lives are lived within home, support and work bubbles we’ve benefitted from more time with loved ones inside our bubbles and attempted to maintain meaningful connections with loved ones we’re physically distanced from. This has contributed to the strengthening of some bonds, and the dissolution of others. We’ve reassessed which relationships work and which don’t! Anita made reference to increased expenditure on luxury retail within our “affection bubbles.” Whilst disposable income isn’t being spent out-and-about on entertainment, dining and holidays, we’re treating ourselves to retail items for our homes, our loved ones and our pets! Andrew Jennings pointed out, “the retail winners over the past year have been technology, products for the home and pets’ accessories.” Fizzy bubbles are also a great example of luxury in-home retail expenditure – and no, we’re not just talking about Anita here!

 

Outside our bubbles

 

Our connection with those outside our homes has become almost exclusively digital. An interesting aspect of this is our exposure to colleagues’ homes and families – and all the vulnerability and humanity that goes with that. There’s no better example of this than the Richard Quest CNN interview with the CEO of Trivago which was interrupted by Axel Hefer’s young son. What makes this so appealing, apart from Quest’s delightful handling of the situation, is that it’s so relatable to all of us working at home with children and barking dogs. Hooray for the rise and rise in humanity!

 

Moving between bubbles

 

In our previous Season 3 episodes, 1 and 2, we discussed the trend of moving from one safety bubble to another. This is apparent in the current preference for resort destinations and short-term rentals such as airbnb accommodation. As travel restrictions are lifted, the preferred destinations will be the more remote ones, and the chosen travel companions will likely be extensions of our social bubbles, rather than random strangers. The motivation to travel has become a meaningful connection with others, rather than purely adventure seeking or sight-seeing.

 

Emerging from our bubbles

 

As we move beyond lockdown and begin to re-engage with our greater community, it’s likely we’ll continue to seek meaningful connections with the places we visit, whether we’re dining out, shopping or holidaying. Is this because as David Green points out “people yearn to get back to retail,” and when we return to bricks and mortar retail shopping, we really want to make it count, and maximise the experience? This seems likely. Our RISE viewer poll indicated that most of us yearn for both the sensory aspects of shopping – the tasting, smelling, touching aspects (29 %) and the social aspect of meeting with friends and dining out (32 %.) Andrew Jennings agrees that “socialising is becoming an important part of retail and the future of retail will involve socialising and interacting with people.” This is good news for our resident Grouch, Demian! Whilst he proclaims that he doesn’t miss shopping at all, he did also let slip that he quite enjoys socialising at the cosmetic counters of department stores!

After more than a year of limited physical interaction with other people and places, the shoppers and travelers of the near future will be looking to mindfully, safely, re-engage with people and places we’ve yearned for, and rediscover the sensory pleasures of retail and travel, and the social interactions that go with both.  What will be different from before? Quality over quantity, and the increased importance of meaningful connections between people, places and products. 

As always, we’d love to hear your views on this. What do you most look forward to when you’re able to shop in person again?

Don’t miss the next ‘live’ episode of RISE on Monday, March 01st, 12:00GMT  – “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.”  We’ll be talking about the rise in cosmetic procedures (including domestic Medical Tourism) and Wellness Tourism with our brilliant guests, Dr Clare Neser and Mia Kyricos. RISE promised you interesting angles on our Travel, Tourism & Hospitality industry and we love being able to deliver!

 

Register here to catch us live, or to watch previous episodes. Thank you for being an invaluable part of RISE.