Think about it – flight delays, cancellations, visas, travel insurance, robberies, crowds, aiport queues, unpleasant customs officers, accidents, overbookings, natural disasters, less than acceptable accommodation, pilots misbehaving midair when you least imagine it – I can go on and on. The potential for things to go wrong when taking a holiday is immense. So, why not? Why not enjoy the pleasures of the unknown from the comforts of your home? (I’m just fooling around here, I live to travel, but having experienced pretty much all of the above drawbacks, a little ‘Go-Nowhere” action seems like a perfectly acceptable idea).
The future of free time and the Go-Nowhere gamers
The Future of Free Time report, produced in April 2010 by the online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com in association with think-tank Future Foundation, explored how travel and free time will change over the next five to 20 years, and suggested that the travel industry should start to cater for an increasingly connected generation known as ‘Go-Nowhere Gamers’. This emerging generation – ironically – seems to find out-of-home activity too ‘action-poor’ and prefer today’s more engaging, 3-D enabled in-home entertainment. And rather than risking the imperfection of a real-life holiday, they enjoy virtual getaways, saving up their Linden dollars for a holiday home on the outer rim of a floating unicorn island on Second Life.
The report also confirmed a fairly obvious trend – people spent less on out-of-home leisure activities during and after the GFC but invested more on home electronics, particularly in-home leisure. The report also states that in the future, “in-home entertainment technology will be more exciting, more interactive and more visually appealing. 3-D TV will have made its way into everyone’s homes, content will stream from the Web at the push of a button, we will interact further with shows and even influence their scripts and outcomes. The home as a centre of free time will become more appealing and compete with out-of-home free time.”
The report adds that in the virtual, highly interactive universe of the Go-Nowhere-Gamer, young people will replace the thrill of sky diving in the Grand Canyon with taking on a different online personality or “avatar” and wander with their friends on an imaginary planet together.
So, it’s take it or leave it for many service providers. In order to compete with the increased interest in virtual leisure, museums, galleries and exhibitions will have to make real experiences more interactive and more engaging. Audio guides and standard video shows in museums could be replaced by visual mobile devices and interactive material. Perhaps, in a similar fashion to this:
Convinced? If money and time are a real impediment, certainly an avatar representation of yourself wondering around a replica of the Louvre or El Prado, could be quite entertaining.
I wouldn’t mind it at all, but I think I would still prefer a more realistic tour, like the map-cum-video guide by Google Russia and Russian railways. Composed of a series of videos shot from the window of a Trans-Siberian carriage, the video shows the perspective of a traveler enjoying the 5,752-mile length of the world’s most famous long-distance railway.
And although most of us will probably prefer the six day journey across the Russian plains, I think projects like this one could certainly hold more than just mere entertainment value for home-bound youngsters. Arm-Chair Travel, for instance, specialises in producing Virtual Tour Systems and kiosks for venues which have difficulty providing access to the disabled. This often includes listed buildings, where installing lifts would be too costly or disruptive, or for more unusual sites such as naval museums with ships and submarines.
Seeing distant lands is increasingly unaffordable and/or unsustainable, particularly for families with more than two or three members. So, perhaps online portals and state-of-the-art virtual tours are the best we can hope for?