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The Expectation Economy: 2019 Trendwatching for Places

Global Trend Events 2019

What are the next big trends in society? The world is evolving at a rapid pace through new innovations, especially for places. Social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook, has fundamentally changed how travelers find vacation spots and share their trip memories. You can’t go anywhere without seeing people taking photos of themselves and sharing immediately with geo-tags, hashtags and more. Amazon’s search for its second headquarters has thrown regional groups in a mad dash to up their marketing game. They are realizing corporate executives are no longer content with a plain presentation deck. They want to know that it’s as great to live in a place as it is to work there. Meeting planners are realizing conference attendees might not want to be stuck in a stuffy convention center. They want to immerse themselves in a destination that they can experience through a combined business and leisure trip.

Whether you are a place looking to attract travelers or investment, it’s imperative to look out for society’s next big trends. I’m not only talking consumer trends or buying habits, but those that will change and evolve business. I recently had the opportunity to attend Chicago Trend Event, hosted by Trendwatching, an organization that helps “forward-thinking business professionals in 180+ countries understand the new consumer and subsequently unlock compelling, profitable innovation opportunities.” Read on for trends coming in 2019, how they might affect your organization, and questions to consider during strategic planning.


Five Fundamental Human Needs

The biggest takeaway I got from Trendwatching was that we are living in the “expectation economy.” Customers don’t know what they want and you need to show it to them. They expect this. They expect innovative ideas and experiences to be presented to them, and quickly. In tourism, travelers might not know where they want to visit until you show them, or a friend goes first. Corporate executives might not know where to consider expanding their business until they first visit a place.


Five Fundamental Human Needs


Brands, organizations and places will need to recognize five fundamental human needs to grow their local economies.

Human Need #1: Self-Improvement

Nowadays everyone is looking to improve themselves and disconnect from our always-on digital lives. Places looking to attract a skilled workforce need to show talent that there are ample job opportunities. These opportunities should come not just through one employer, but through multiple companies so that talent can grow their career. Destinations should continue to evolve wellness services. Such services include preplanned excursions, that remove tedious planning, in-hotel fitness classes and entire retreats with activities like meditation. What can your place do to show talent and travelers that they’ll be their best selves in your place?


Human Need #2: Delight

Meaningful experiences are now important in all aspects of society from consumers and to employee-employer relationships. In the tourism space, some hotels and airlines are already using augmented reality to welcome guests upon check-in. How could this roll out for other experiences? Perhaps a customized check-in at co-working or incubator spaces in a startup city. How will your destination create delightful experiences for travelers and citizens?


Human Need #3: Escapism

Shared stories create shared universes and allow people to escape their realities. The example Trendwatching gave was sharing stories around a campfire. This certainly applies to places, as people often tell friends, family and coworkers about a vacation upon returning. Not to mention, they post photos and reviews on social media. Economic development organizations need to remember that the same thing goes for their work. Executives are much more likely to consider expansion in a region they have a positive perception of. People look for escapism without going anywhere. Boundaries between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ worlds are fading. In 2019, consumers will seek even deeper engagement. How can you make your spaces more reactive and relevant to your customer? How can you showcase your place to people who don’t yet have the desire to travel or move?


Human Need #4: Relevance

One of the biggest things across all industries is staying relevant. This is especially apparent when marketing across generations. DMOs and EDOs will need to stay relevant by continuing to provide value to their target audiences (travelers and site selectors) and partners (hotels, restaurants, local businesses and education institutes).


Human Need #5: Status

Everyone is trying to create something impressive for their peers; they chase fleeting moments of internet fame and status. Thinking about storytelling, what status stories does your place have to tell? It doesn’t always need to relate to a celebrity but could be sharing values related to social justice.


7 Trends to Look Out For

According to experts around the world from London, New York, Amsterdam, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Lagos, here are the biggest trends we’ll see across innovations in 2019.

  • Fairness: Consumers expect brands to use technology ethically – i.e. augmented reality (AR) shouldn’t be biased. Is your region making sure it isn’t unintentionally or unfairly marketing to specific groups of people?
  • Values: The majority of consumers believes companies should take a stand on social issues. Can your community comment on how a national agenda is playing out locally? Is your region influencing change on a national level?
  • Peace of Mind: People are worried – about their jobs, the government, inequality, automation and more. What is your place doing to mitigate mistakes that can come with change? How is your organization providing transparency to its stakeholders?
  • Practical Representation: “Consider the practical needs of a truly diverse set of customers.” Not all travelers or business executives are the same. What does your community have to offer?
  • Positive Impact: Open source solutions are the way to go. Consumers are embracing brands that solve problems for everyone. What problem can your organization solve within the wider tourism or economic development space?


To summarize, here are a few good questions to think about:


Other Innovative Trends

Finally, I wanted to share a few examples of brands embracing and leading trends, that were woven throughout the Trendwatching conference and may be applicable to place marketing.

  • Timeshifter is, in short, a jetlag app. It tackles personal data and algorithms to give simple advice surrounding small actions one can take at specific times, so they are active and alert when traveling. What app could your region use, create, or promote to create a better experience for travelers?
  • Pop culture and music icons, Mr. and Mrs. Carter recently filmed a six-minute music video within the Louvre in Paris. Vogue reports the video highlighting “a visual, and historical, whirlwind of different artistic movements.” Rather than let the momentum die down, the Louvre has created a “JAY-Z and Beyoncé at the Louvre” tour, which visits all the art in their music video. How can you blend your place’s history with present day interests, through experiential and digital strategies?
  • Meanwhile, Swedish furniture giant IKEA has created the IKEA Place app. It allows customers to “see” furniture in their own home via augmented reality and their smart phone. How can travelers experience your place, before or without actually going?


There’s a lot to think about with the future of consumer and economic trends. But it doesn’t need to be scary; focus on the innovation. What trends do you see coming in 2019? What innovations do you think will change the future of tourism and economic development? Email or tweet me and let’s continue the conversation.


All graphics provided by Trendwatching. Photos taken by DCI.

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