Just a few days ago an article came along, on transformative travel. It caught my attention. Topic is what I always felt was at the core of guest experience at Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch. One of our guests defined it succinctly and we later adopted it as out tagline, “portal to what matters”!
Travelers are our kind, those seeking more meaningful interaction with nature and culture. Not always an easy crowd to reach. Especially amongst the masses of tourists adorning Croatian shores every summer. Perhaps for me as a proprietor the most satisfying kind. Most of all, being able to share my stories and hear theirs around a campfire under starry night is in line with my own set of beliefs. Being authentic in this life journey makes for a simpler life. So when I read the article and how is this becoming a trend in the travel industry I felt a bit of pride and joy. I shared the article with my team members, as to say: you see guys it pays to take the higher road. Here is the article in its entirety. I would love to hear your comments.
Why “Transformative Travel” Will Be the Travel Trend of 2017
“Experiential travel” became the travel trend of 2016. Rather than just visiting far-flung locations, vacationers were looking for ways to tap into native cultures, meaningfully interact with locals, and feel like far more than a tourist. So where does a thoughtful traveler go from there? What’s next?
Industry leaders are saying that “transformational travel” is the next evolution. It has similar elements of experiential travel, but taken a step further—it’s travel motivated and defined by a shift in perspective, self-reflection and development, and a deeper communion with nature and culture.
Leading this shift is the newly formed Transformational Travel Collaborative (TTC), an organization that provides both travelers and travel outfitters with tools to encourage personal and professional growth while on the road.
“Today’s culture is device- and pace-driven,” says Jake Haupert, TTC cofounder and president and founder of Evergreen Escapes. “We’re disconnecting from ourselves, our relationships, nature, and culture. The external pieces of an itinerary don’t reveal the inner journey a trip can inspire.”
Much of TTC’s research stems from cofounder and vice president of travel products at Nomad Hill Michael Bennett’s doctoral study, which examines the elements of adventure travel that lead to deeper transformations. He identified a three-phase process consisting of the departure, the initiation, and the return—the “hero’s journey”—where travelers venture into the unknown to learn wisdom from cultures and places outside their own, returning home to implement this knowledge, ultimately changing their lives and the lives of others around them. It’s this post-travel action that separates experiential travel from transformational travel. “We’re at a point where the planet needs a higher consciousness, and transformational travel can give us that,” says cofounder of TTC and founding president and CEO of Wildland Adventures Kurt Kutay. “It’s the step beyond authenticity and experiential travel we need.”
Many travel companies already see this shift occurring. Managing director of the Americas for GeoEx Jennine Cohen sees travelers coming to her company with the desire to stretch and grow. “The most interesting shifts occur when travelers engage in meaningful dialogue with people who have a non-Western perspective,” says Cohen. “This allows our travelers to start to see the world less in black and white, and to begin to appreciate how nuanced many issues are when seen from very different perspectives.” Cohen also sees a shift occur when GeoEx travelers encounter nature and wild animals, as does Ted Martens, vice president of marketing and sustainability for Natural Habitat Adventures. “Following a trip, people often share how they were inspired to donate to conservation efforts for a species and the environment.”
The shift to transformational travel is reflected in programming, from adventure and artisan travel to luxury lodges and hotels in both natural and urban locales. “Twenty years ago, luxury lodges were Singita’s unique selling point; today we focus on being a leader in sustainable operations, and for many guests, getting involved in our conservation efforts is truly transformational,” says COO of Singita Mark Witney. Founder and CEO of Thread Caravan Caitlin Ahern hosts artisan adventures around the world, and she identifies a shift in her travelers: Once they return, “People start caring more about where the things they buy come from. People want to feel more connected and one great way to do that is to know the stories behind the things we use every day.”
Awarding companies for inspiring transformation like these is Pure Life Experiences, a platform that gathers high-end travel companies every year in Marrakech to discuss travel that positively impacts conservation efforts and transforms lives. “We are looking for an immersive, perspective-shifting product that challenges and inspires the sophisticated traveler on a deeply personal level, creating emotion through the powerful medium of storytelling and transforming their life for the better,” says Eliza Bailey, group public relations manager of Pure.
Shortlisted for the Pure 2016 Transformational Travel award is Butterfield & Robinson, an immersive trip provider anchored in the art of slow travel. “Transformational travel is what lies on the other side of authenticity and experiential travel, and it’s what happens when people are pushed out of their comfort zones and find the courage and strength to overcome challenges—physical, psychological, or emotional,” says president and CEO of Butterfield & Robinson Norman Howe. In our often superficial, hyper-connected world—a landscape where the merits of a vacation are measured by Instagram likes rather than actual impact—it’s perhaps no wonder that the traveler of 2017 will be looking for a deep shift that lasts long after the physical journey ends.
Original article was published in Vogue on MICHAELA TRIMBLE.