Transformative travel is a growing trend in the United States, and was the topic everyone was talking about at the USTOA (United States Tour Operators Association) conference in Arizona recently. Referring to experiences with meaning and fulfillment, often within the realm of sustainable experiences - it’s an opportunity to come home with a sense that something has increased your awareness, knowledge or has touched you in a personal way.
"People tend to correlate it with luxury or adventure travel... but sustainable travel
doesn't have to be limited to a niche, it can be applied to any type of travel or traveler."
- Kelley Louise, ITA
We recently sat down to chat with Kelley Louise, Founder and Director of Impact Travel Alliance - a global non profit organization with more than 20,000 members worldwide – about transformative and sustainable travel experiences.
Here's what she had to say:
Transformative travel can be so many things – but essentially its the kind of travel that gives you a sense that something has increased your awareness, knowledge or has touched you emotionally and markedly in some way or another. This shift toward self-actualization and personal transformation is a reflection not only of a broader movement within the global tourism economy, but also within global health and wellness. Companies increasingly position their products not just as objects or even enablers of experiences, but as essential elements in the creation of an improved self. Norway has tremendous untapped potential for positioning and growth within this space.
Americans Looking to Alter Their Minds
According to Beth McGroarty, director of research and public relations at the Global Wellness Institute, people are ‘desperate to alter their minds’. Beth said something truly astounding, from a tourism perspective, calling travel that gets people out of their usual mindset and exposes them to new ways of being and thinking - “a kind of shortcut — a brain shake-up and a life shake-up.”These “shake-ups” come in many forms. A trek into the mountains, a homestay, a silent meditation retreat. A training course with a local artisan, behind-the-scenes access to performing artists, cooking classes or volunteer work in communities.
A shake-up experience can be something simple - a person’s first trip to a big city or a moment of understanding with someone far different than oneself. The list of transformational opportunities is as endless as travelers’- and the travel industry’s - resourcefulness and creativity.
And, just last year, Skift.com identified travel focused on personal fulfillment as one of its 2018 Megatrends, aptly dubbed “Personal Fulfillment Is the New Ultimate Luxury.” Read the full report HERE.
If any indication, this graph from USTOA reveals what is top of mind of todays U.S. traveler:
This is also reflected in the Segmentation Study Innovation Norway has recently performed in 10 major markets - where one of the main segments is called "Adventures in the World of Natural Beauty" - and where the main motive for travel is exactly transformative and sustainable travel experiences. Read more HERE.