The Welcome World of Wanderlust

Shân Osborn

Source: Google Trends

The Signal: Months of lockdown have stoked our feeling of wanderlust and yearning for adventure. 

Yet travel (as we know it) is going to change significantly. It may also become largely unaffordable post-pandemic.

Consumers will look for ways to “travel” differently -- and will have disposable income to spend on alternative experiences.

These will reach far beyond the much-talked about rise of the staycation. People will search for ways to explore new and foreign experiences within their daily lives.

Here are a handful of opportunities:

Global Cuisine: Americans were turning to exotic food choices pre-pandemic, with demand for cuisines like Japanese and Thai rising. Desire for global foods will skyrocket as travel becomes even more of a luxury.

Entrepreneurs could offer subscriptions and deliver boxes of exotic, nonperishable goods. 

Source: Universal Yums

Universal Yums and SnackCrate, both of which have been in the space for a while, have recently seen demand spike (their sites each have 1m+ visits a month, according to SimilarWeb).

Source: Google Trends

Entrepreneurs could enter this growing space and niche down (e.g., specific dietary requirements, healthy vs. treat boxes, kids’ boxes, holiday boxes, etc.).

You could also focus on fresh exotic cuisine with kits and produce subscriptions. Restaurants/chefs specializing in ethnic foods could offer monthly/weekly meals or meal-kit delivery services.

It’s not just about the ethnic food -- it's also about the experience. Branch out and include value-adds: video tours or virtual vacations for patrons to enjoy over dinner, curated playlists, small souvenirs, etc.

You could offer movie/documentary pairings. This would work well for date night boxes (take your SO on a Korean experience tonight… from your living room!).

Don’t be afraid to go super niche. Travelers are notorious for seeking out coffee and cafés -- why not offer a service that brings you coffee and a traditional breakfast item from a different country each Saturday?
Other examples include a “Take Yourself Wine Tasting” box (deliver South Africa’s wine farm experience with a cheese and wine pairing (yes, we have 2 South African contributors now, can you tell?), a “Picnic in Paris” box (baguettes, pastries... a checkered picnic blanket). The limit to this approach is endless.

You could also leverage national gems: Explore Local Box will deliver a taste of a US town to your doorstep. 

Source: Explore Local Box

Self-Care: Demand for global self-care experiences, subscriptions, and products will rise.

Trendster Victor Li and his partner are looking to bring the bathhouse experience directly to you via their at-home spa kits (inspired by our recent Flare).

Entrepreneurs could bring a wide range of self-care experiences to consumers. Options include Ayurvedic (dry brushing and body oil packs) and Chinese (gua sha and rice water products).

To fully immerse consumers, include playlists, luxury clothing/decor items, scents, and guides outlining the cultural history behind products.

Spas could also leverage this opportunity (provide authentic Balinese, Thai, Ayurvedic, etc., experiences locally).

Luxury Items: Shopping can be a big part of travel. Entrepreneurs could bring global luxury D2C.

Senreve is doing this with Italian handbags (and coining it). Mejuri offers high-end jewelry, handcrafted in a range of global workshops. Interest in both of these firms is growing.

Source: Google Trends

Entrepreneurs could help local manufacturers develop global distribution channels. You could design a platform that collates the best international luxury goods, where consumers can shop by country and category.

Subscription or gift boxes filled with less expensive exotic items are also a good niche (e.g., a gift box from Kenya, containing handcarved wooden bowls, woven baskets, kikoys, etc.).

Experiences: Demand for outdoor experiences is likely to soar this summer (check out our Signal on rewilding).

Glamping alone is forecast to reach revenue of ~$1B over the next 5 years. Startups in the space include Tentrr, an Airbnb-like platform where hosts who own 15+ acres rent out land for the night. 

Don’t have 15 acres? Hipcamp offers camping rentals in backyards of 2+ acres (find our rundown of startups in the space here).

Exotic sports/experiences also present attractive opportunities. Many travel to take part in yoga retreats, meditation, bird spotting, etc., and demand for local options may spike. 

You could also provide these experiences via virtual/augmented reality. AR Tai Chi, complete with virtual class mates, is already a thing. Yoga class on a Balinese beach, anyone? (Been there…)

Interest in hunting and other ranch experiences has also been rising. It’s likely to be further boosted by increased local travel.

Source: Google Trends

At the Texan Ox Ranch, about 80 miles east of San Antonio, guests can drive around in old WWII tanks, torch stuff with flame throwers, and navigate through a “war zone” course in military vehicles.

You could provide guides, day trips, or even holiday packages incorporating ranch experiences. Entrepreneurs outside of the US could offer the American ranch experience locally.

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