This report looks at what Horizon Media deems the seven most consequential trends to emerge from a year of pandemic living.
With Spring here and over 190 million vaccines administered thus far, people are itching to journey beyond their homes and gain exciting experiences. Understandably, humanity has not yet reached a post-pandemic world, so people’s level of comfort with social activity varies. Nevertheless, a YPulse survey from March 2021 shows that more than half of 13-39-year-olds (56%) are ready to travel and go on vacation this summer, up 29 percentage points from May 2020. Whether it’s immersive virtual tech that transports people to other countries from their home, local experiential adventures, or a safe and spontaneous spin on domestic travel, people are Epic Living – Covid-19 style. With people growing hungrier for safe experiences, adventure, and spontaneity, brands have a ripe opportunity to join the fun.
Some people are ready to expand their worlds as far as the airlines will allow them. While Australian borders remain closed, Qantas is satisfying domestic travel itches by revamping their 1990’s mystery flights program, which let people take a spontaneous day trip to an unknown destination. But this time, they’ve added a twist. Qantas’ Mystery Flight Experiences go beyond the flight with exclusive domestic all-inclusive day trips covering same-day round trip air fare, meals, and activities like a winemaking course or snorkeling. To keep up the mystery fun, customers are given hints to what each experience entails to help them pack appropriately for their adventure.
Some people are making epic memories a little closer to home. In February 2021, 7-Eleven partnered with Airbnb to host a one-of-a-kind overnight gaming fantasy escape at their Evolution Store in Dallas Texas ahead of its grand opening. One of six across the country, 7-Eleven’s Evolution stores are far from ordinary. Not only are they designed as real-time experiential testing grounds for innovative restaurant-style foods, seating, and advanced check-out tech, but the overall experience of the store is also brand new (one shop even has a drive-thru). With rigid Covid-19 safety precautions in place, two members of the same household were eligible to secure one of two overnight stays. Lucky participants gained access to a PlayStation 5 console, gaming nook with luxury loungers and a big screen TV, an exclusive one-hour Twitch streaming session with popular gamer FaZe Temperrr. And of course, no 7-Eleven sleepover would be complete without slushies, snacks, and Laredo Taco Company tacos. Safe. Local. Epically unique – add it to the bucket list!
For people who are treading with the most caution, enhanced virtual experiences provide necessary travel-craving relief. Last Fall, Amazon launched Amazon Explore, providing live, interactive, one-on-one virtual experiences with an international guide. While Explore is still in beta, collaborative partnerships indicate its future potential. Hilton Honors recently jumped on board, allowing people to book experiences with Hilton points and link to Amazon. Experiences range from shopping in Tokyo, to quality time with Costa Rican sloths and more. Through Amazon’s platform, people are immersed into the tourist POV via a one-way camera, seeing their guide and surroundings in real-time and orienting themselves in the space through integrated maps and labels on screen. People can even take screenshots, speak to locals, and point to items using on-screen buttons. Going a step further, shopping-specific experiences allow customers to explore local stores and make purchases for shipment afterwards.
Brands can evoke experiential excitement, too. A fitness apparel brand can partner with Airbnb to run an adventure-filled sweepstakes getaway. Have people submit creative video entries of themselves adventuring in branded athletic gear and attire via social media using #EpicAdventureGetaway to earn a chance to win an all-inclusive mystery adventure weekend. Build the hype by having three different types of adventures in the sweepstakes from coastal to mountainous, keeping people guessing which adventure they might win. Spread the word through PR and extend the campaign by gifting lucky winners exclusive new products for their adventure and feature their travels across owned and social media.