Focusing on current micro-trends will allow prescient travel businesses to get a leg up on the competition. The key, though, is distinguishing between a micro-trend and a fad.
The latest white paper by trend forecaster WGSN explores how trends develop, and how micro-trends evolve into macro-trends. While not focused on travel and tourism per se, the brand consultancy’s findings in Anatomy of a Trend have interesting implications for the industry in general, and the luxury sector in particular.
The white paper defines trends as “slow-moving shifts in cultural values. They affect, but are not just about, the products we buy and the experiences we seek. They are about how we choose to bring meaning to our lives.” On the other hand, fads come and go and don’t involve cultural shifts. Businesses that can distinguish between the two, and can then identify trends before they reach critical mass, have potential to tap into unlimited growth opportunities.
According to Kim Mannino, a senior trend consultant for WGSN, “A micro-trend starts with early influencers and moves to mass adoption (within a specific industry) within one to two years.” A macro-trend, by contrast, spans at least five years and impacts of variety of industries.
Emily Spiegel, head of content and product marketing for WGSN, notes, “To capitalize on micro-trends, you need to have a long lens. You can’t just look towards your own segment. If you do, you risk always being a bit too late. Instead, you need to look at influencing industries to your own. (This way), you can decipher the signals from the noise and identify any micro-trends that might become movements” or macro-trends.
Anatomy of a Trend analyzes two micro-trends that evolved into macro-trends during the past few years. The first is the artisan movement. The growing interest in craftsmanship started about 10 years ago, according to the report, but only hit critical mass in 2014. That’s when the explosion in businesses like microbreweries and craft distilleries, along with the “buy local” phenomenon, passed the tipping point. According to Spiegel, the trend is also impacting the travel industry. “Last year, we saw the rise of experiential travel, as millennials looked to experiences where they could become part of artisan communities and local cultures. Airbnb was quick to catch on, adding experiences to connect travelers with local artisans and workshops.”
The state of Illinois is also honing in on the trend. The tourism office is identifying craftspeople and makers to provide increased value for destinations around the state. According to Cory Jobe, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, “We introduced Illinois Made in 2016 because of the timing. All the trends were pointing to visitors wanting authentic experiences and access to the makers’ spirit.” In fact, spirits, in the form of craft distilleries and micro-breweries lead the Illinois maker movement, but Jobe notes that artisans from glass blowers to hat makers are also spotlighted. “In connecting travelers to the state’s makers, we are hoping to increase overnight stays throughout the state,” he says.
The other macro-trend the white paper discusses is wellness The report cites the recent influx of hotels featuring “rooms that have been holistically and technically designed for optimum well-being and stress relief.” For example, the Swissôtel Zurich opened a pilot Vitality Suite in the fall of 2016. The minimalist room includes ergonomically-functional furniture, a chromotherapy/aromatherapy bathtub, and circadian lighting to help guests overcome jet-lag and enhance sleep quality.
Another example is the Stay Well Room, designed by Delos. Features include lighting that tracks circadian rhythms, advanced air purification systems, and memory foam mattresses derived from plant extracts. While first introduced in 2012 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it is only during the past year that the Stay Well concept has expanded to the Mirage in Las Vegas and several Marriott hotels on the East Coast.
In terms of what’s next for this trend, WGSN is forecasting a growth in ‘Do Good’ hotels and wilderness wellness. According to Spiegel, “Wilderness wellness refers to hospitality companies providing a connection to nature, shared group experiences and a bucolic aesthetic. Examples include the rise of summer camps for grown-ups which encourage guests to digital detox. ‘Do Good’ hotels are hospitality offerings that tap into millennial preferences for socially-conscious services.” She cites The Purpose Hotel (which has tried to raise funds on Kickstarter), “which pitches itself as the first for-profit hotel whereby all proceeds go directly to support causes, charities and social enterprises across the world.”
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Photo credit: A Stay Well guest room at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta. The room grew out of research into wellness trends by the firm Delos. Marriott Internation