But how do we know? In-bed exploration – literally and metaphorically. As in, how bed sizes are changing, their occupancy rates rising (yes, hotels are now accepting three-in-a-bed bookings), the frequency at which we book hotel rooms is increasing – use the Byhours app for those minxy micro-stays.
But we also called on our Futures 1000 panel of experts and innovators to help with our decade-long forecast – the editors of Suitcase magazine; UXUA hotelier Bob Shevlin; Kate Moyle from the BBC’s Sex on the Couch; and brands like Foria, which is writing about, pioneering or testing everything from tri-romantic breaks and polymoons to shared-purpose getaways and CBD pleasure products. The sexual wellness market was worth a staggering $32bn in 2019 alone, according to Technavio.
Then there’s the stats dig – those easy, straightforward ones – the number of solo travellers on the rise (one in six of us, according to ABTA); global nomads (1bn by 2035, according to nomadlist.com, and our recent word for Design Hotels); and those that require our analysts, or mobile ethnographers, to add an additional layer of interpretation to them.
For example, at face value, single or solo travellers can be classed as people travelling alone, and thus outside the bounds of a report on Modern Love (unless we count self-love here). But on investigation, by interviewing hoteliers and early adopter travellers alike, lone voyagers can be among the most active and romantic, using apps to populate that empty pillow, while spending more than their last decade as solo backpackers on self-treats and self-care.
As the co-founder of UXUA Bob Shevlin told us: ‘There’s no such thing, really, as solo travel any more. It’s been a long time since we were asked where the nearest gay bar was. Often our guests have already set up dates with other travellers or locals using apps like Grindr or Tinder.’
Solo travellers, and the bigger set they are part of, our Global Digital Nomads (GDNs), are likewise redefining how we describe and market the mini-break, or dirty weekend, as the Mr & Mrs Smith Modern Love report suggests.
Think four-day peakends (the new long weekend); three-day mid-weekers, where canny GDNs avoid the bridge and tunnel brigade by taking Tuesday to Thursday trips; even blended breaks, where nomads mix romance, work and play on a three months on/three months of micro-sabbatical as they virtually work and play their way around ‘roamtels’ like Selina and Unsettled.
The point? Foresight, when it’s done well, isn’t just about facts and stats and staggered bar charts. It’s about getting you under the skin, or the bed, of the subject matter in ways that bring the future to life and gets you the customer-friendly headlines you want.
Martin Raymond is co-founder of The Future Laboratory, and author of The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook. You can order special-message editions of his book here.
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