I have a hunger for devouring lifestyle trend reports. With a background in brand concept development, I find them fascinating and I like to test my own intuitive style of observing and predicting consumer behaviour against the big players.
I wholeheartedly believe what we do at Sharing Bali has been quietly breaking the rules and entering new territory in the travel sector. We may be a small player, relatively unknown, often shunned by the magazines (we’re not quite glossy enough for some) but I know we have exactly what the trendsters are predicting. The latest list of predictions strengthens my resolve to disrupt the luxury travel sector with our unique take on “simple luxury”….. move over fluffy white robes.
I’m handing over to Jacq Burns aka founder of the London Writers’ Club for her take on 2015 predictions.
“Why we want to hang out with the locals in 2015”
Many of us spend January optimistically planning our new year, including booking holidays. I’m more of a late booker myself but fascinated by forward planners and what drives them I’ve been rifling through the papers, mags and Internet to see what the trend forecasters say about how we will travel in 2015.
Trend forecasting can be puzzling, amusing, irritating or illuminating and sometimes all at once. It appears to rely less on a crystal ball, more on the facts, open ears, a keen eye and a piecing together of a whole bunch of clues. Travel folk are also incredibly good at surveying, and predicting how their clients will behave. Astonishingly, if 2015 matches their predictions then I will be bang on trend for a change, more of which later.
Here’s my edited pick of what the top travel trendsters predict:
- A desire to share experiences and connect with locals
- A preference for authentic, local-cooked food over swanky restaurants
- Working our holidays harder: combining a holiday with a wedding or a course
- Using holidays to improve our lives: learn a new skill, write a book, get fit or de-stress.
- A move away from five stars to more authentic and socially conscious holidays
Apparently what we also want from our holidays this year is ‘a sense of location, distinctive accommodation in unforgettable places… resorts shaped by local cultures and customs to ensure that authenticity shines through.’
Time.com describes 2015 as ‘a year of expanding horizons’ predicting that we will ‘visit resorts and travel with companies where the bottom line is measured by how much goes back into local communities’.
The Sunday Times kicked off the New Year with a piece about life-changing travel. They predict a growing desire for more than just an escape from the 9-5 for a beach or luxury holiday. Their travel pages were packed with ‘holidays that lasting benefits that won’t just be distant memories when you’re back at your desk…’ Instead ‘you’ll look back on them as vital experiences that kick-started the discovery of a whole new you.’
We will also be making ‘the world our classroom, attending workshops, salons, and conferences across the globe.’
This all sounds promising stuff. Less of the posh and artificial, more of the real and local, and a burning desire to indulge our passions or to nail new skills.
As a writing retreat leader, I am intrigued by the idea of the world as our classroom. There’s been an explosion of goal orientated holidays, where we retreat from everyday life to learn something new, to develop a skill such as writing or to get fit or de-stress.
What is driving this trend? Why it is that we increasingly want to get off the sun lounger to learn as a part of our holiday? Is it that we have simply lost the ability to relax and want to keep moving even on holiday?
Perhaps it because many of us work such long hours that the time we used to dedicate to hobbies and other passions has been consumed by work? Or it may simply be that we no longer want to wait until we retire to pursue our desires and dreams but start now.
And is this a good or a bad thing? Surely we need our down time? There is a lot of talk that we are switched on more than ever before and that this is wholly and unreservedly bad for us, but need it be? If we are doing things that nourish us, that cause no harm, how can we object?
I can’t think of a bad thing that comes out of spending more time on the things we are curious or passionate about, especially if that means increasing our knowledge and skills or learning something new.
And what of my claim of being on trend? With a sense that I wasn’t the only one with an urge to use my holidays to grow and improve, as well as to relax and regroup, I partnered with the appropriately named Sharing Bali to run writers’ retreats. And what do you know! They tick all the trend boxes: offering an authentic Balinese experience including ‘hanging with the locals’ and immersion in village life. It’s not just about tourists blowing in and out again having followed the usual tourist trail.
Understated luxury was also mentioned in the Times piece, and this is a key draw of retreats such as those at Sharing Bali. The gentle sounds of water, an abundance of flowers, lemongrass tea, and coffee grown in a nearby field, a beautiful textile and a well-placed hammock are my definition of luxury.
Retreaters leave everyday life and its distractions behind to try their hand at something they’ve longed to do. Yet these retreats does so in a way that includes locals, the ‘resort’ is part of the village with locals walking through, working the adjacent rice paddy, stopping to chat or dropping produce at the kitchen.
It also gives locals the opportunity to use their full range of talents: mostly traditional talents with a sprinkle of new. At Sharing Bali visitors experience the owner, Wayan’s reclaimed teak houses, design, sculptures and water features; Ngurah’s creativity through his drawing and painting, and flower art; Wayan’s body therapy skills and Arni’s cooking. And not forgetting, co-owner, Karen’s talent for creating simple luxury in a village setting, and partnering with others like myself to offer people time and space to enhance their lives while getting a taste of the real Bali.
If how we holiday is being redefined by the people and 2015 looks set to further our desire to have more deep and meaningful travel experiences. What impact will these trends have on the ground?
Could this bode well for Ubud and other quieter parts of Bali? Will this be a lasting trend that generates less demand for luxury and intrusive tourism, and more of wanting to experience Bali as it is? As an outsider – and an eternal optimist – my gut is that it is a good thing. It feels more respectful. Local people and cultures are acknowledged in this trend; there’s less pressure to strive to be global or homogenous to appeal. Rather their strength is in who they are already.
Perhaps this trend could see more of us will leave a teeny bit less of an imprint on the land and culture but leave Bali with an enriched mind body and spirit? Then long may it last.
The forecasters say we want to hang with the locals; let’s hope the locals want to ‘hang’ with us in 2015.
Raised in Adelaide, Jacq Burns moved to London to work at the heart of publishing at Random House going on to found London Writers’ Club and a Noughties style literary agency & publishing consultancy.
She also leads writers’ retreats at Sharing Bali, secluded in a tiny village in the hills above Ubud where it’s all about the writing, as well as hanging with the locals, experiencing village life and eating authentic Balinese food. More info here: http://www.sharingbali.com/retreats/writers-retreat/