How an anthropologist thinks about the travel industry

As you may know, we are on the verge of a new Culture Camp. Details here:!

This morning we got a query from a guy in the travel industry, who wanted to know why the camp could be useful for someone in his industry.

I thought you might be interested in my reply!


Great to hear your voice.

Here are a couple of thoughts on culture and travel that will help indicate some of the things we will be thinking about in Culture Camp.

A knowledge of culture helps identify who the consumer is and what they want to be.

Here is what the travel industry looks like through the culture prism.

One of the trends we are watching (and I am sure you are seeing it too) is women traveling alone.

This is driven, we believe, by lots of things but especially perhaps by the success of Eat, Pray, Love as well as Under the Tuscan Sun.

We are looking at the possibility that this will get another push if and when we see the rise of a female Anthony Bourdaine. We are looking for this.

Or for that matter, a woman doing a version of the Stanley Tucci doc that’s just come out, Searching for Italy, I think it’s called.

Another development in culture is the way boomers are redefining their 70s and 80s. The model here used to be a decline into passivity and a cruise ship. As they search for something more active and transformational, new models are called for (and probably emerging). Would love to hear your thoughts here too.

In general, the trend is away from owning things to gathering experiences and it feels like travel is a perfect arena for this undertaking.

Foodies, in the Stanley Tucci tradition, have new reasons to travel. (Fifty percent of Americans are now prepared to call themselves foodies!)

DNA and the genealogical work is helping people see that they have connections to countries that used to be just colors on a map. Looking for the home of your ancestry (see the very interesting work of Henry Louis Gates here) supplies another motive.

Airbnb used to sell itself (and it may still) as a chance to be embedded in a place, as opposed merely a tourist there. So we are looking for new ways to be a tourist … and escape the old tourism model.

Hope this helps! We would love to see you!

Best, Grant

Come join us!