Tourism

Leading demographer says purpose is defining modern-day travel

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Purpose, aspiration and the pursuit of authentic experiences are defining the way we travel, according to a well-known demographer.

Speaking at an Airbnb event in Sydney yesterday, Bernard Salt described the current era as the time of the ‘post-consumer consumer’: a demographic of travellers made-up of Australia’s modern population of Millennials and modern, multi-cultural, educated and high-earning professionals.

From this market, Salt said travellers are casting aside stock-standard and mass-produced travel in favour of something that they can curate, share and use to express their own values. They’re also using it as an opportunity to “find purpose” outside of work.

“We’re looking not just for the latest hot place to go to, like a Fijian island, but to go to a Fijian island and actually have a meal with a Fijian family,” he said.

The former example of travelling to destinations, Salt explains, is an example of 20th-century thinking and a continuation of a pursuit for “self-actualisation”.

But in 2020, with a new generation of Millenials, the demographer believes there is a shift toward having something more than just the latest holiday or experience – it’s now about finding authenticity.

However, Salt said this newfound appetite for curatable experiences is not only found in Millennials, but in other generations, too.

“That is very much in the mindset of the next generation,” he explained. “A generation that is post-consumerist – it matters to these people.

“There has been a seismic shift from the compliance of the Baby Boomer … to the ethical questioning, fearless ethical questioning, of the Millennial generation.

“There is a muscularity to this that is becoming more evident. They’re very sure of their footing here and demanding that it must be transparent, it must be ethical and transparent, it must be environmentally sensitive, it must be culturally appropriate not inappropriate, and it must deliver on what you promise.”

The World Travel & Tourism Council forecasts global expenditure on the experience economy to be worth a staggering US$8.2 trillion (around $12 trillion) by 2028, driven by live experiences.

As such, modern brands in the sharing economy have made concerted efforts to branch into experiences driven by purpose and the values of modern customers.

In October, Airbnb unveiled an expansion to its Experiences offering with the launch of more than 1,000 animal-focused and -friendly experiences. These ‘Animal Experiences’ are underpinned by a new animal welfare policy backed by World Animal Protection.

The experiences are hosted by caring experts as “an antidote to typical tourist attractions” that the rental platform says were “notorious for ethical concerns”.

Among these is the ‘Breakfast with Alpacas’ Experience, which sees travellers feed Billy the guard alpaca and other alpacas, along with other farm animals, before having breakfast among them.

Featured image: (iStock.com/Drazen_)

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