5 THINGS WE LEARNT AT MINISTRY OF IDEAS 2019
Hot off the press from this year’s Ministry of Ideas, we’ve unpacked the top five travel trends that emerged from an inspiring day of expert talks and panels. There were plenty of fresh ideas and unexpected insights to help our rebels stay ahead of the game; to get you up to speed, here’s what we learnt in 2019…
1. How to take sustainability seriously, and make it sexy.
What better place to deep-dive into travel’s sustainable responsibility than at 1 Hotel South Beach, a true shining light for conscious hospitality?
Drawing inspiration from the worlds of fashion and beauty, pro panellists Helen Reavey and Nina Shariati gave expert advice on how travel brands can create a true luxury feeling by tapping in to the zeitgeist and engaging customers with an authentic sustainability story. In an age where we need to end single use and create a circular economy, it’s no longer enough to pay lip service; you need to embed sustainability into everything you do, from working with ethical companies and sourcing sustainably to bringing natural textures to hotel spaces.
Plus, Melody Serafino reminded us that “people are voting with their dollars” and looking for a sense of purpose when they travel, echoing the thoughts of 1 Hotels’ own Hannah Bronfman, who, speaking from experience, revealed that “travellers are willing to pay more for ethical options.” In short, sustainability can save your business money on costs, inspire customer loyalty and help save the planet: a business plan that delivers on all fronts.
2. How travel can become a platform for social change.
Calling on travel brands to do more for the communities in which they operate, local activist Aja Monet delivered an inspiring spoken word address, sharing tales from her community justice projects that help people dealing with gentrification and displacement. In creating luxurious oases removed from the realities of everyday life, it’s important for the industry to remember that reality continues for local people. Companies shouldn’t create false illusions about places or dehumanise the people that work for them, but rather promote respect and share wealth.
She then teamed up with awesome equality warrior Allie Hoffman to delve into intersectionality, throwing light on how issues of identity – race, gender, class and sexuality – work together to compound oppression and marginalisation, with high-end tourism often adding to the problem when unchecked. In the words of Aja herself, “Extreme wealth cannot exist without extreme poverty”, so it’s never been more important for travel to facilitate curiosity and enable cultural exchange.
3. How travel can disrupt and enhance other creative industries.
The travel industry is uniquely placed to make positive moves into other verticals, and we heard from some of our pioneers about how it’s already happening. Art experts Francesca Gavin and Seth Rosenbaum showed why procuring artwork provides hotels with a tangible return on investment before offering advice on how brands can create galleries to disrupt the art market and deliver added value for their discerning clients looking for that unique sense of exclusivity.
Similarly, strategy guru Ana Andjelic explored how hotels can double down on experiential retail by taking a lesson from the likes of Shinola, Muji and West Elm, who are fusing retail with hospitality in a way that stays true to their offerings while delivering added value for customers. By being bold and open to change, contemporary travel can open up exciting new frontiers to diversify portfolios and grow profits. Cross-industry hospitality models are the future, and the future has arrived.
4. How travel and tech can work together.
Can technology truly compliment and enhance high-end travel? We found out as a Design Hotels panel brought together travel visionaries to discuss how brands can embrace the tech transformation and use improved functionality to deliver more emotionally enriching experiences – combatting the threat of “digital anonymity” by creating genuine community.
Delving into the modern myth behind blockchain, software super-mind Ling Qing Meng looked at why, following the high-profile data breaches of big businesses around the world, it’s time to see the platform as more than just Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Travel brands need to use this vital tool in the quest to make bookings more seamless, data more secure and high-end travellers more comfortable throughout every aspect of their trip. Far from being a just a passing techno fad, blockchain can give independent brands the power of scale and help revolutionise the industry for the better.
5. How travel can facilitate personal success.
The industry can, and should, be leading the way in making self-actualisation more accessible. The masterful Bob Roth revealed why meditation is no longer a luxury and how travel brands should be making mindful practices a key part of their wider wellness offerings – giving travellers the ability to access a valuable psychological mechanism that helps optimise our day-to-day lives. Matt Delaney then discussed why the simple art of a good night’s sleep is essential for maximising performance and being the very best version of yourself, and how travel companies can do more to ensure that guests always get the rest and relaxation they came for.
Rounding off an insight-packed day, we heard from cannabidiol connoisseurs Scott Campbell and Anthony Saniger about why the cannabis lifestyle is going mainstream and how travel brands, through forward-thinking collaborations with key CBD players, can legally incorporate this new wellness and leisure trend into their offerings. With travellers increasingly seeking transcendent, memorable experiences to help them return home transformed, it’s time for high-end hospitality to go deeper. To quote Bob Roth, “If the extraordinary is only on the surface, it becomes ordinary very quickly.”
In addition to his day job as a Content Executive for This is Beyond Ltd, Henry spends his time between gigs, music festivals and chronicling the adventures of his endearingly unprofessional cricket team, the Hendrick’s XI.