By Sanjar Imam
Borne out of void and vulnerability, the former imposed and the latter witnessed up-close, travel today is more purpose-propelled than ever before. It is about making the most of the sliver of time and life left.
Dilshad decided to celebrate a life event, his wife’s 39th birthday, by buying out a boutique hotel at an exotic destination for 3 nights and inviting their closest friends for an experience that included fine food, best of beverages, picnic lunches and themed evenings with performers flown in. 39th is not a landmark birthday. He summed up his rationale of celebrating it nonetheless in four words; ‘kal ho na ho’ (tomorrow may happen or not). Covid has left him (and indeed many of us) jolted and brought a renewed sense of appreciation and awareness about the fragility of life and relationships. ‘When 40th happens, we will outdo this trip’, he had quipped. Value and the gratification of the ‘now’ has clearly eclipsed unpredictability of tomorrow.
Projections into future today at max is five years; hence, not fifty. Even five seems a few too many and so the wants shorten to ‘the next’ or even ‘now’. We want to live and experience life today and we want to do so with people who matter in our lives. We want to create memories, accumulate them so that we feel a sense of accomplishment within the life we are left with and the life span that we eventually end up with.
Monetary wealth creates opportunities to spend. When spent travelling, it can buy you that first class cabin on a flight, chauffeur on standby, an apartment-like suite in a hotel, the gourmet meal at a Michelin Restaurant and the likes. When all this was new it was about the bragging rights of having done it first … now it’s about doing it for self and importantly, discreetly.
Indians have gate-crashed the global rich list. Imagine that just 30 years ago there were no Indian billionaires! The economic reforms in 1990s made Indians step out of the socialistic-leftist mould, entering the red-hot crucible of capitalism and joining the elite list of global billionaires. In 1996 three Indian (dollar) billionaires emerged. Today there are over 120. Dollar millionaires in India today? Over 800,000. This is expected to double by 2026. So (and the point being) it’s not as much about trying to compete anymore (since it’s near impossible to do so unless you are in the top 10) as much as it’s about satisfying one’s own desires and ambitions.
The urge and almost the need to travel is not just the propriety of the ones who have arrived in life. The millennials today want to explore the world; party at that festival; do that adventure; dine at that restaurant; stay at that funky hotel and then Insta share it with all or who they choose to with. For them working to make a professional career is one part of life and living life itself, to the fullest, is quite another. They are fortunate of having arrived at a connected world and hence have the know-how and ability to draw distinct work-life balance. Travelling to experience life and the world at large, is as integral to them, as is making money.
Revenge Travel was anticipated once Covid concerns curbed, and the past few months have certainly seen people wanting to travel with a vengeance. However, the industry was ill-prepared to optimise the demand efficiently as capacities had been curtailed during the pandemic and ramping them up is a long-drawn process. As a result, we are witnessing a flux between demand and supply as the travel industry tries to grapple and grope with opportunities emerging. The equilibrium will be found in time, of course, and it is then upon the sector thought leaders to perceive & project and curate & create demand for new age travel going forward.
It is apparent that post pandemic our priorities and social values have adjusted and changed. The travel industry is assessing, trying to understand and cater to some new norms that have prevailed such as need for flexibility in changing schedules with no or minimum financial loss, the advent of artificial intelligence on our mobile phones off late, the seeking of customisation and personalisation by travellers and expecting speedier turnaround time since the booking windows are now shorter, to mention a few.
By this time next year, we will likely see a nuanced travel trend emerging. Going by the resurgent demand it appears that meaningful, responsible and customised travel are tenets on which tourism will thrive.
The author is the Founder & Director of Panache World, a travel company specialising in customised travel to over 80 countries around the world.
This is the fifth part of a series of articles describing how revenge travel has increased in the travel industry. This series of articles is aimed to give readers a glimpse of the history of travel- its evolution through the ages, showcase the current scenario in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry and discuss the future of travel.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETTravelWorld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETTravelWorld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.
Links to other articles of the series: