Report: Are virtual holidays going to replace real ones?
- Apr 26, 2010
A generation of ‘Go-Nowhere Gamers’ could turn their back on out-of-home leisure in favour of gaming, social networking, and ‘always on’ media unless the travel industry responds to their needs, says a report commissioned by lastminute.com.
The Future of Free Time report, produced by the online travel and leisure retailer in association with think-tank Future Foundation, looks at how travel and free time will change over the next five to 20 years, and says that the travel industry must cater for an increasingly connected generation.
The trend can already been seen in Japan; Ian Yeoman, author of Tomorrow’s Tourist and a consultant on the report comments: ‘What they’ve seen in the last ten years – because they’ve had deflation and also the Japanese consumer has gone inward – is that they’re spending more now on in-home entertainment and technology rather than travelling the world. That’s an indicator of what could happen.’
In Britain, out-of-home leisure contracted during the recession, but sales of in-home electronics grew and since 2000, in-home leisure expenditure has increased by 2.5 times in real terms. Looking ahead to 2015, the report predicts in-home leisure will recover at a faster rate than out-of-home leisure (fig. 1). Research for the report also reveals that since 2007 it is in-home activities such as playing video games and surfing the internet which have seen the biggest increase in consumer value perceptions (fig. 2).
To engage young people with travel and leisure, the industry will have to make real life experiences more interactive, innovative and engaging. This report suggests interactive movies, visual mobile devices replacing audio tours in museums, more real-time hotel tours available at the point of booking, and increasing the prevalence and usefulness of augmented reality applications.
Looking to 2030 the report asks whether virtual reality experiences could ever replace real travel, experts however, are sceptical: ‘Something like virtual travel will be available’ says William Higham author of The Next Big Thing ‘but I do not believe it will replace real holidays – it will simply be another leisure option.’
‘Since launching in 1998 lastminute.com has been at the forefront of travel innovation’ said Patrick Hoffstetter, vice president at lastminute.com. ‘We all have a natural inclination to travel and explore, but the industry must remain innovative and embrace technology to remain exciting for a younger generation.’
When compiling the Future Free Time report, lastminute.com consulted with a range of experts from bodies such as Visit Britain, Which? Travel, travelmole.com, and author of Tomorrow’s Tourist, Ian Yeoman (Wellington University). The report also rigorously surveyed consumers gathering both quantative and qualitative data and utilised the Delphi method to gain further insight into the suggested theories and focus on only the most likely possibilities.