Global Travel Trends

From cannabis gumdrops to digital nomadism, via nature bathing and carving spoons – Louis Thompson reveals where global hospitality is heading.

In this issue’s column we are going to look at trends in the travel industry that are going to affect both the traditional hospitality sector and the glamping sector. As mentioned in last issue’s musings, the industry is going through a period of seismic change – overtourism and the shared economy combined with sustainability concerns are changing travellers’ definitions of hospitality.

Our trends illustrate that over the coming years we will see a range of new services and concepts that will gather momentum to cater to these changing expectations.


Modern nomadism

Couple holidaying with a campervan

Data from Morgan Stanley suggests that by 2027, more than 50 per cent of the US workforce will be freelance (up from 35 per cent in 2018), meaning more people than ever will be location-independent (a similar trend can be observed in the UK). This emergent class of digital nomads is part of a wider shift within travel to ‘modern nomadism’. Freelancers who can work remotely, and live more or less where they like, are spreading their wings.

This new breed of nomad is choosing various forms of co-living – companies like Roam and Unsettled have been developing new concepts in cities across the world. We believe that these concepts will increasingly spread into the glamping sector. Companies that offer digital nomads attractive long term room rates, a strong sense of community and a reliable Wi-Fi connection could be onto a winner.


Biophilic design

Tri Lanka resort in Sri Lanka

The wellness economy is expanding at an exponential rate. As of 2017, wellness tourism was a 639 Billion USD industry. This industry covers anything from plastic surgery trips to holistic spa workshops. There is increasing evidence that immersion in nature is one of the core foundations of human wellness; the Biophilia Hypothesis proposed by evolutionary biologist, E.O. Wilson, suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.

Over the last decade there have been more than 100 studies that have investigated the potential mental health benefits of exposure to natural stimuli. From these studies we have learned that nature tends to result in reduced circulating levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and the inflammatory marker immunoglobulin A. It is also associated with lowered blood pressure, improved “affect” (or short-term emotional experience), blunted “perceived stress” after stressful life events, and lower short-term levels of anxiety and depression.

Many of these studies have discovered that biophilic environments can be created through the design of the buildings we inhabit, these salutogenic spaces can help people overcome stress, anxiety and mental illness – over the next few years we believe that the conception of these spaces will be critical to hospitality wellness design.

The glamping sector should be at the forefront of this movement, and we expect to see camps and retreats specifically designed to promote emotional wellness by allowing guests to disconnect and get back to nature.


Up-skilling retreats

Nomadic tools for tourism activities

Following the rise of experiential tourism and transformational travel movements, it seems that the next trend in the travel sector will be focused on self-improvement. It is increasingly clear that many travellers actually want to return home having learnt a new skill or ability (rather than sunburn and a hangover).

Several new projects are offering some interesting takes on the theme; the Zuri Zanzibar pairs visitors with local fishermen from the Watumbatu tribe so they can learn traditional fishing techniques using nets and traps. At Heckfield Place, a newly renovated country house hotel in Hampshire that opened in late 2018, guests can master spoon carving, botanical drawing, rush weaving and wild swimming.

Once again we think there is a great opportunity here for glampsite owners – have a look around your community and see if there are any master craftsmen who may want an opportunity to host a workshop to teach others.


Cannabis tourism

Wellness Tourism by Region

A few years ago the idea might have seemed far-fetched, but as of 2019 more than 30 countries have legalised cannabis to some extent. Amsterdam has demonstrated that people will travel from far and wide to experience cannabis culture but recent legalisation reforms in the US are showing that cannabis tourism is big business. Having recently returned from the Indie Lodging Congress in Los Angeles, it was clear that CBD therapies are increasingly popular in spas, and some new resort concepts are featuring smoking lounges with cannabis concierges. Lord Jones became the first cannabis company to form an official partnership with a hotel chain, announcing in 2018 that The Standard would soon stock its line of gumdrops in minibars and lobby boutiques from Los Angeles to New York.

It may not be a realistic prospect in the UK in the immediate future but it could be worth keeping an eye on this space – in 2017, 7.2 per cent of 16 to 59-year-olds reported using cannabis in the last year.


Plant-based protein

Examples of plant-based proteins

Plant protein is a source of protein derived from plants which include pulses, tofu, soya, tempeh, seitan, nuts, seeds, certain grains and peas. Recent films and documentaries like Cowspiracy and Gamechangers have had a significant impact on the way people perceive their diet – the resulting environmental, animal welfare and health concerns are changing perceptions of diet from a traditional omnivore diet to plant-based diets at an astonishing rate. As a result, the potential for plant-based menus is huge – 63 per cent of millennials seek plant-based food and are trying to add it to their diet and 57 per cent of diners find it somewhat difficult to very difficult to find plant-based food in restaurants.

It is proven that “selective eaters”, including vegetarians, flexitarians and pescatarians, are willing to pay up to 65 per cent more for their restaurant meals, making it a profitable decision for glamping operators to consider. If you don’t already have some vegan options on your menu you may want to reconsider…

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers!


Louis Thompson Nomadic ResortsABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louis Thompson is CEO of Nomadic Resorts, an interdisciplinary design and project development company servicing the hospitality industry with offices in the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and South Africa.

Using a holistic approach, Nomadic creates sustainable resorts, tented camps, lodges and residential projects that reflect a true sense of place and fit organically into their natural surroundings. Its ethos is that designs should serve as a bridge to connect nature, culture and people.

The team specialises in sustainable architecture, contemporary bamboo construction, treetop living concepts, as well as tent design, engineering, manufacture and installation.

Over the last 15 years Louis has worked on some of the leading luxury tented camps across the world including Wild Coast Tented Lodge in the south of Sri Lanka, Soneva Kiri on Ko Kut island in Thailand and Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia. The projects have won multiple awards in both the design and hospitality sectors including the 2019 Ahead award for the best resort in Asia and the 2018 UNESCO Prix Versailles for the best restaurant design in the world.

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