Culture takes over from consumerism as travel marketers face new challenge

The head of Futurebrand has revealed a major shift in the motivations of travellers, who have lost interest in travelling to shop and are now shifting to choosing destinations to experience culture.

Futurebrand’s Richard Curtis sees a shift in focus from travellers which brands must match.

Richard Curtis, CEO of Futurebrand, told the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit the evolution in what people sought in travel as globalisation – particularly in areas of retail – meant that people not longer had to leave their home cities to experience international brands.

Curtis said that culture was becoming the driving force behind people’s travel decisions, forcing travel marketers to shift the approach they were taking to their brands and offers.

“We all read about globalisation and it used to be great fun going to Muji and places like that but now that they are here in Australia shopping is not what it was when you travelled,” Curtis said.

“Globalisation has meant that people are less focused on consumerism and buying more stuff – a shirt with I Love New York on it or I Love North Dakota or whatever it might be – and they have become much more focused on the culture and the experiences that are authentic to that place.

“It’s almost that culture is the new shopping in terms of what drives a lot of travel and seeking those new experiences as opposed to bringing back T-Shirts with dumb statements on the front of them. It is about how you feel different when you get there.”

Curtis said the move from a consumer motivation to culture was a broader reflection of travel brands better understanding experience beyond the core services and the brands themselves and making experiences real for people

“You see this most in the hotel category, for example,” he said.

“It’s becoming less and less about logos and the identity and much more about how do you experience that brand. When you think about the future of hotels and how people are spending their time – boutique hotels or even hotels of large scale are shifting away from what happens in the room to what happens in those communal spaces and how you put people at the heart of the experience.”

The Alex Hotel an example of the new breed of travel experience.

He cited a boutique hotel in Perth called The Alex, where he often stayed as an example of the shift that was taking place.

“The rooms are tiny but the social spaces where you can share breakfast or share conversations and have those serendipitous moments of meeting other travellers who are like-minded, they make the most of those,” he said.

“I even think about airplane design and how airplane design is becoming a little bit more communal in terms of having bars and shared areas where you can sit. I think you have started to see that shift outside of articulating our purpose to how you actually deliver the experience and how do you make the product real.”


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