In the early 2000s, in the course of an international tender procedure, we were awarded the contract to design a large hotel and condominium complex on one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. After we received the order, we refused to continue with the project in order to protect our client: Our perception of many weak signals with regard to substantial changes in the leisure and tourism industry led us to believe that the project would not be successful from a business perspective. We were convinced that many of the given project specifications were based on the past, which would no longer be valid in the near future.
Initially astounded by our attitude, our client finally followed our suggestion to join us in a series of learning journeys into the future of tourism in order to spot inflection points in the industry before they happen and to be able to respond proactively to them.
With the support of our international network in research and practice, we succeeded in giving our client a completely new perspective on the future of tourism. In fact, we could show that the leisure and tourism industry will move from offering a counter-world of working life to offering experiences complementary to everyday life. Instead of giving vacationers the opportunity to passively recharge their “batteries,” as in the past, the tourism industry will (have to) provide opportunities for people to pursue interests and inclinations that they cannot pursue in their everyday work-life.
In order to be able to respond consistently to this changing situation, a different approach is required: It is necessary to turn to the elementary aspects of society: its values. Because they embody all of this, on which everything else is based: the way we live, the products, services or technologies we buy, use or claim, and last but not least the value we place on certain things in our lives. Demographic studies can no longer provide sufficient insights into how products and services will have to be designed in the future in order to be successfully accepted.
In a series of published reports, we documented the intensive examination of today’s values with regard to tourism. We showed how recent decisive changes in values and lifestyles in Western society brought and will bring far-reaching consequences for tourism and how to implement these insights in designs for vacation destinations. We completed our assignment on the basis of these new findings.