Twenty-five years ago, during the era of Europe on $25 a Day, two buddies and I backpacked across Europe for two months, and all we had was one copy of a “Let’s Go Europe” book among us. How the heck did we do it before the advent of smartphones?
I just returned from a wonderful two-week family vacation in France. We did it all, from the Eiffel Tower, to the nightlife in Nice, from jumping off waterfalls in the Alps to viewing prehistoric cave drawings, from the ancient city of Carcassone, to the D-day beaches of Normandy. It was both exhilarating and exhausting, and I have no more room in my stomach for any more duck confit or pain du chocolat. And, in addition to having a great time, organizing this trip with my wife gave me further insight into the value of the Internet as it pertains to what leisure travellers want from their experiences.
My wife and I planned the whole trip ourselves, with more than a little help from Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, Uber, Booking.Com, hotels.com, Yelp and Trip Advisor, among other sites and apps. We booked rental cars, admission tickets and excursions in advance, online with our Visa cards. Needless to say, no trip would be complete without each of our Spotify playlists and a bunch of downloaded podcasts for the long drives in between destinations.
Not only did we use smartphones to help us in the planning process, but they also proved invaluable when we needed distractions. My boys (11 and 14) would have lost their minds waiting in the queue for over two hours at the Palace of Versailles had they not had their iPhones to occupy them.
When driving through Europe, one encounters roundabout after roundabout. Without Waze or Apple Maps, we would probably be still going around in circles. We didn’t book a single hotel or go to a restaurant without checking TripAdvisor or Yelp first, and we were rarely disappointed. My wife even left reviews for other travellers on both Yelp and Trip Advisor after hotel stays and restaurant meals to help future travellers in their decisions.
I am very glad our clients own shares in Apple, Google, Facebook and Booking Holdings! I am also glad that our clients own shares in companies like Vail and Disney that have mind-blowing experiential assets.
I could not believe the crowds and lineups at historical sites like the Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles and the famous Mont Saint-Michel Abbey. I also couldn’t get over the amount of money people were spending on souvenirs and macarons (my favourite is pistachio).
Twenty-five years ago, the tourists were from North America, Europe and Australia. Today the line-ups are full of Chinese, Japanese, South-Asian and Eastern European tourists as well. The rise of the middle class leisure traveller from newly developed and emerging economies is just getting started, and these vacationers want to experience it all. The travel industry can and will build more hotels, manufacture more airplanes and open more restaurants to accommodate the increasing volume of leisure travellers. However, the world isn’t making any more 800 year-old Notre Dame Cathedrals.
My summer vacation is over ☹. Now it’s time to find more companies for our portfolio that will benefit from these trends $ ?.