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Travel & Hospitality in 2021
23 : 12 : 21

Recreational travel made its great return in 2021. Comprising everything from K-pop tourism to dispersed destinations, it represents a fresh start for the sector.

The Trend: Post-conscious Travel

Trippin Trippin

As talk about Covid-19's impact on travel quietened down, this year discussions about travel’s planetary impact become much louder. It was also the year that our Sustainability Futures report shed light on the opportunity to demystify and quantify eco-consciousness, a theme first explored in our Post-conscious Travel microtrend.

With 81% of global respondents saying they wanted to be more sustainable in 2021, according to Garnier, consumers and companies alike moved away from the encouragement of gratuitous destination-hopping and refocused their behaviours on planetary and social good. But sustainability has a language problem, which is why a new wave of innovators are trading in buzzwords to redefine what it means to travel consciously.

Trippin’s report replaced the term ‘sustainable travel’ with ‘purposeful travel’, addressing the lack of intersectionality in the sustainability movement. Then there’s the fact that the travel sector has recognised the role of regeneration – which offers a more tangible approach to sustainability that can be measured. Regenerative Travel has open-sourced a white paper that publishes data points for hotels to measure their planetary and social impact.

The Big Idea: The rise of deceleration strategies

For some of the world’s biggest and emerging tourism destinations, this was the year that big-budget recovery strategies were retired in favour of slower, more tactical approaches to maintaining visitor numbers – as well as the natural landscapes that attract them.

This came two years after we first predicted the rise of Decelerated Tourism, demonstrating how the trend is now manifesting in the market as a way for countries to maintain the environmental benefits that arose out of the pandemic. The 18-month pause gave brands a much-needed chance to re-assess their role in over-tourism, and to reset campaigns and initiatives that prioritise quality over quantity.

Azerbaijan, for example, launched a campaign to encourage its nationals to discover their country’s unique terrain, signposting 150km of hiking trails that connect remote mountain villages. Meanwhile, Greenland is strategically dispersing its attractions, with each region having ‘its own visitor centre and a specific regional theme, promoting the variability of cultural, geological, culinary and historical elements each place has to offer'.

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland Ilulissat Icefjord Centre by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, Greenland

The Campaign: Feel the Rhythm of Korea merges K-pop with tourism

Feel the Rhythm of Korea by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO)

As part of the growing movement towards Traveltainment, South Korea used creative marketing tools to welcome international tourists back to its shores, capitalising on the country’s influence in the global music scene with the blockbuster campaign, Feel the Rhythm of Korea.

The national genre of K-pop has been arguably one of the country’s most successful exports, with interest clustering in Southeast Asia, which boasts 80% of the genre’s Spotify listeners (source: Chartmetric). Dubbed Hallyu travel – which refers to the wave of Korean culture spreading over the world – the country’s tourism organisation estimates that such tourism accounted for 7.4% of all inbound visitors in 2019 (source: Korea Tourism Organization).

Now that borders have re-opened, the country has been on a mission to reclaim that share. The first-of-its-kind campaign comprised a series of eight videos, each with an original soundtrack of modernised versions of traditional folk songs, shot in diverse spots around the country. The ads, which aimed to show how South Korea’s music culture is in no way restricted to K-pop, have since attracted more than 240m views on YouTube, making it a hugely successful global tourism push amid the pandemic.

The Interview: How Homage is prioritising Black hospitality

Homage, US Homage, US

In the spring, we spoke to Damon Lawrence and Chimene Jackson of hotel disruptor Homage about centring the Black experience in hospitality. The resulting interview highlighted the ways that hospitality can confront, rather than avoid, colonial narratives, while framing hotels as spaces to tell stories through art, design and music.

‘For centuries, Black people were in the thralls of industrialised hospitality, so we've created spaces for us to feel safe and humanised,’ explains Jackson. ‘There's a lot of healing, great ideas and art that's taking place in our culture. And hotels are our way of making sure that those ideas stay incubated in the areas where they can have greatest impact.’

Lawrence believes that music should be at the heart of a hotel’s placemaking strategy. ‘To give someone a playlist is one of the highest forms of hospitality. Music is another industry – like hospitality – where so much of the talent globally comes from our culture, but we don't have ownership of that creative work.’ He continues to argue that: ‘Some of the best conversations I've had were with DJs. The way that they have to curate different settings… I think DJs are probably the best communicators in the world.'

The Space: Vipp Pencil Factory’s elastic dining room

Pencil Factory by Vipp, Copenhagen Pencil Factory by Vipp, Copenhagen

Elastic hospitality came to Copenhagen in September, as design company Vipp opened a concept space that can morph in line with the demands of its locals.

Catering for the need for more experiential and fluctuating spaces, the Vipp Pencil Factory – which takes its name from its previous industrial use – hosts a roster of chefs to create intimate dinners and supper clubs. A large banquet venue in the centre of the space can seat up to 26 guests, who also enjoy musical entertainment chosen to complement each meal.

The multiple use cases of this space allow Vipp to engage with its audience in a variety of ways. By doing so, the brand sets an example for future hybrid spaces that can be shaped to suit the diverse hospitality needs of communities. ‘It’s not a restaurant,’ says Kasper Egelund, CEO of Vipp. ‘But we do invite spectacular chefs to cook intimate dinners. Nor is it a nightclub, but we do invite talented musicians to play a tune. Nor is it a showroom, but we have invited renowned designers and artists to sharpen up the venue.’

Download the Future Forecast 2022 report

Now that you know what shaped 2021, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2022 report comprising 50 new trends across 10 key consumer sectors, insights from our analysts and interviews with global innovators.

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