The end of 2017 concluded a year focused on international sustainable tourism. An initiative supported by the United Nations General Assembly, aimed at creating interest amongst travelers and the industry to highlight travel options that preserve local environment, economy and culture as well as improving the well-being of local people. So how will this theme continue in 2018? A growing number of micro travel trends, indicate an increasing interest in experiences that contribute to a more sustainable outcome, resulting in businesses and entrepreneurs getting behind the idea too.
Propelled by the rise of the millennial – soon to be the largest living adult population in the U.S., this growing segment of the global travel market will heavily influence travel trends for the next decade or two. Millennials are leaving homogenized locations and commoditized travel experiences behind and seeking more authentic travel destinations and participatory experiences. An ethos that corresponds well with two of the pillars of sustainable travel – protecting local cultures and local economies. Research also indicates that travelers seeking authenticity are also willing to place a higher premium on these new and enriching experiences – good news for travel brands operating in this space.
There is also growing popularity for adventure travel amongst millennials, defined by ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association) to include at least two of these three elements – ‘physical activity, interaction with the environment, and cultural exchange’. Although millennials play a role here, it’s the baby boomers (52-73-year olds) who are leading the pack when it comes to this trend. Pursuing adventure travel as a means of self-exploration, or to embrace a more active lifestyle, they search for lesser known locations off the trodden path without compromising on comfort. ATTA estimates, that approximately 65.6% of the total trip cost from an adventure package remains in the destination visited.
It’s not only travelers who are interested in sustainability. 2017 saw an increasing number of entrepreneurial startups capitalizing on these growing trends, their flexibility giving rise to unlikely ideas and partnerships. One of these brands is Poshtel PopUp, who are currently redefining off-grid, adventure travel with a new business model of scalable architecture, with eco-friendly design and infrastructure. These sustainable, luxury hotels can pop up anywhere within a short period of time. They are boutique and stylish, while using eco-friendly design and materials that are local to the regions they are placed in. Completely disconnected from the grid. Poshtel PopUps can be reused and moved when the moment has passed, minimizing the impact on the surrounding environment, and not disturbing or displacing local communities with long-standing infrastructure.
To enable a luxurious and comfortable off-grid experience, Poshtel integrates the latest in design and technology. Its 5th Element units, provide sustainable electricity, fresh water and sewage, allowing them to operate 100 percent off-grid using solar power. The company has even collaborated with Swedish start-up Orbital Systems, whose NASA inspired recirculating and water purifying shower is the first of its kind. The Orbital Systems shower continuously purifies and recirculates 2.6-3.9 gallons of clean water at the ideal temperature, and flow rate. With this shower, guests can shower for as long as they like, without damaging the environment, and Poshtel can be four times more water efficient and reduce its need to store and transport water. To reinforce the sustainability message or to gamify the idea of water conservation, water savings can be displayed in-room for guests. An appealing initiative to get visitors engaged.
Poshtel PopUp is currently targeting Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan in a number of franchise deals, enabling travelers to visit truly unique, off-grid locations, whilst providing all the comfort of a traditional hotel setting. The company sees itself as part of a larger movement of change, an interesting challenge to the hotel industry. The impacts of tourism are complex, yet the idea of attracting tourism to more rural locations, surrounded by local culture in order to spread the benefits of tourism is certainly noble. This collaboration of startups is a great example of sustainable design combined with sustainable travel, aiming to reduce the impact on a local environment. Millennials and baby boomers alike will be looking to take advantage of these new pop-up locations, before they disappear and pop-up in a new exciting location again.