Hospitality is stepping into the education space. There is a growing demand for a learning component to be incorporated into travel, whether it is nomadic families seeking out educational opportunities for their children, or adults wanting to learn something during their holiday. Airbnb recently released a patent where they could make location recommendations to nomadic families based on the education needs of their children. The company’s Antarctic Sabbatical programme takes elite tourism to new heights. It offers well-healed travellers the opportunity to join a scientific research mission to the South Pole under the guidance of an environmental scientist. Meanwhile Exxpedition offers women the chance to study ocean plastic pollution on a “floating research lab”.
Why is it important?
The growing urgency of climate change has made people want to better understand the planet and their natural surroundings. These types of new offerings are premised on the idea that these travellers will contribute to a deeper understanding of the world we live in and will then spread the word about the health of the planet. As Airbnb says, “Our goal at this juncture is to better understand how travel can be a positive catalyst for change”. An additional advantage of this kind of tourism is that it takes travellers away from their screens and with experts raising a red flag about too much time spent online, this can only be a good thing.
What can businesses do about it?
During the pandemic, an interest in science has arguably been aroused in many people, with scientists like Dr Fauci in the US and, locally, Dr Salim Abdool Karim presenting it in a new and urgent light. This trend represents an opportunity for businesses in the hospitality space – and even for cities. Educational diving experiences can be set up, as Hawaii has done with its new King’s Pond, where enthusiasts can explore underwater life at close range led by marine biologists. Hotels can start offering educational experiences for their guests such as “Stargazing on the Sea” – a riverboat cruise, during which an astronomer will give a guided view of stars, planets, and phases of the moon on that particular night. Travel companies can seek out scientific adventures and build them into tours. The sky is literally the limit.
By Faeeza Khan
Image credit: Aviv Perets