TREND: A New Era of Transformative Travel

The One-Upmanship in Transformative Travel Experiences has Begun!

We’ve been living in an age of “authentic” and “experiential” travel where even mainstream hotel brands now help travelers eat, live and spa like a local. Travel experts argue that “transformational travel” is the evolutionary wave, which doesn’t discard the focus on authentic experiences but takes it to a deeper emotional level. It’s essentially an individual’s self-reflective journey vs. the cold facts of an itinerary. An intensive dialogue with cultures and nature that changes you for the better. Less Instagramable bragfest than exclusive soul experience.

Transformative journeys and story-steeped experiences are reaching wildly creative levels everywhere from luxury travel to restaurants to retail. Consider the uber-extravagant, London-based transformative travel company Based on a True Story (featured above) that wings travelers to far-flung destinations for theatrical adventures.

Restaurants are creating feast-theater, with multicourse meals set in extraordinary environments, waiter-actors and multisensory storylines. London’s Gingerline has guests forage for their dinner in a magic forest and board an aircraft for dessert. Retail brands are staging “product theater” —like Glossier (NYC), which introduces its fragrance through an “olfactory journey” through the five senses inspired by “theater, performance art and magic shows.”

Suddenly, the one-upmanship in transformative experiences is being seriously upped, and wellness travel destinations (whose very promise is transformation) are smartly starting to use new concepts to re-energize the wellness quest.

Forecasting The Future

There is no way to engineer a universally transformative wellness travel experience: Transformation is both elusive and personal. But if wellness over the last decades has become too egocentric—too narrow a focus on me, me, me and my betterment and beauty—we predict that wellness concepts that get people out of their heads and egos will rise.

Transformative travel is the current “it” concept, and you can bet it will be overused and misapplied. But with wellness travel growing so fast and the space so increasingly competitive, creative experiments that can wrap the traveler/heroine up in a powerful and surprising narrative are much needed. We needn’t worry too much about transformation-washing because people will know it when they experience it . . . or not.

The successful wellness destinations of the future will put as much thought into engaging people’s emotions as they do evidence-based healing. As Summit roundtable participant and W and Departures Editor, Sandra Ballentine, put it, “What I want from a wellness resort experience is true transformation. If I don’t cry, it’s not been worthwhile to me.” And to “cry” we would add laugh or fear or fantasize—all of which will be part of the conversation at the 2018 Global Wellness Summit.

This is an excerpt from the TRENDIUM, a bi-weekly communication exploring the wellness trends identified in the 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report.
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