The travel industry must change its mentality and become more accountable and aware of its impact - cultural erosion, climate change, plastic waste, mass and irreversible habitat loss are just some of the serious side effects of overtourism, which stems from our businesses inspiring billions of people to explore the globe.
That’s not to say there aren’t those leading the way. Intrepid Travel is a great example through their recent transition to a ‘B Corporation’, and not purely for altruistic reasons. The Millennial traveller is seeking sustainable experiences and they are willing to pay more for them.
Our planet is at a critical turning point. My hero, 92 year old Sir David Attenborough recently shared the 'voice of the people’ in Poland at the UN Climate Summit, urging leaders to LEAD at this most critical time for our planet. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, in the same week gave away the millions of dollars his company saved from Trump’s tax cut, back to the planet. With help from wise elders, such as these, I am convinced the Millennial generation can save the world from over tourism.
Millennials are now the biggest demographic on the planet. There’s 1.98 billion of us.We’re also now the highest earning demographic, having overtaken Baby Boomers in 2018. We travel more than any other generation in history. In the US alone Millennials spend $250B on travel per year. On numbers alone, our decisions will shape the future of travel for decades to come
So how is it possible to tap into a spirit of this generation to reinvent the way we travel? I’ve got a theory - it’s all about PLAY. From the moment we are conceived, the desire to PLAY is hardwired into our DNA. PLAY is fundamental in developing our social skills and how we learn to interact with one another. It allows us to dream and imagine, unleashing happiness.
As we get older this evolves into social games - sports - more structured and organised versions of PLAY. Games encourage us to problem solve, to explore alternatives. They teach us new skills in an engaging and entertaining way. They allow us to be spontaneous, removing fear of failure - because you’ve often got another life.
Games give you a goal and encourage tenacity and resilience, to keep trying! Games can move us through our comfort zones. They acknowledge and reward us for our achievements, rank us so we can see our place against others and gain perspective. A great example is Scouts and the Girl Guides - using patches and ranks to motivate, encourage teamwork, collaboration and learning.
Games have the great power to bring people together whether it be friends or an entire family. What did we do before the internet, we sat around with our families on a Friday night playing Monopoly, until the inevitable fight broke out!
With the help of technology, games now have the power to create global communities well beyond the lounge room - to allow us to escape the everyday.
Games hold our attention span. Games build loyalty and huge followings. Games often focus us on a single collective goal. Games give us another form of connection and purpose!
Right now the new hip and happening game is Fortnite it has over 150 million users and 1/3 of them play daily! Did you get into Angry Birds? It was so popular they made a feature film and a sequel to appear in 2019. If you added up the time spent playing this game, collectively the human race has played Angry Birds for over 13,000 years!
It is no surprise that the corporate world have adopted game concepts to keep staff motivated and engaged - through ranking and rewards. Not only to enhance performance but keep them from playing other games at work.
Then some savvy tech marketers cottoned onto the trend and ‘gamification’ was born - applying game elements to non gaming environments to make them more interesting. Games and play it turns out are are actually powerful tools for changing behaviour, building customer loyalty, increasing engagement and importantly learning about your customer!
Fitbit, DuoLingo, Waze, are good examples of brands using gamification. Strava is another having revolutionised the cycling and running world. They are currently attracting 1 million new users every 40 days. You don't "download" Strava, you "join" the Strava community.And "if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen".
Travel is the biggest games of all. From collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points, to collecting passport stamps, or ticking off your Bucket list and there’s billions playing.
At Adventure Junky it’s not all fun and games. We have a grand purpose. We’re trying to positively influence the future of travel, by turning sustainable travel into a global game.
So how does it work? Imagine all of the Earth’s greatest adventures are all part of a global game. And that each one has been given a points score. For each one you complete, you earn points and move up the Leaderboard. You can play against your friends for bragging rights, or play against the entire world, for the title of ‘Earth’s Number 1 Adventure Junky’.
We’ve assembled over one thousand adventures in over 100 countries, there’s something for everyone. We’ve empowered our awesome community to become co-curators of the app, with 70% of all adventures added by our uses. To make the cut, adventures must be high on experience and low on impact.
Each adventure is given a points score and a series of patches, based on its characteristics. The more sustainability characteristics the higher the score. We’re taking the mystery out of sustainable travel by breaking it down into tasty, bite-sized chunks. We believe that travel should be an equal exchange - It must enhance the wellbeing of the traveller, just as much as the wellbeing of the people and places they visit.