Ford presents its second edition of its travel trends report. This year’s title? The New American Road Trip(pers): How “Digital Nomads” and Technology Blur Work and Play. Catch some of the top facts and figures, they might surprise you!
Ford has always had an interest in taking the lead on things. Beyond their dreams of autonomous vehicles and transit galore, it’s still important to see what’s happening now and how that might affect the future. In comes, Ford’s venerable travel trends report, now in its second year. This year’s theme is clear with the title: The New American Road Trip(pers): How “Digital Nomads” and Technology Blur Work and Play.
In this data-hungry world, Ford serves it up fresh with this to-go guide for futurists like Sheryl Connelly (Ford’s in-house expert) as well as curious minds, peripheral industries, and scientific researchers. The book combines research from Ford’s new survey as well as 3rd party data. It’s all new for the year, which is important in this fast-moving scene.
Ford’s report reveals a distinct shift in the American travel culture. More and more young people are starting to take road trips, but they’re doing them in precarious and unexpected ways. It’s less about disconnecting entirely, but disconnecting from work only, and connecting into leisure like taking photos and enjoying music. It’s an unexpected twist.
I personally work remotely as frequently as I can. Last month alone I worked from the French Consulate, Switzerland, and Italy. I was connected the entire time (except when I wasn’t; like mountain passes and valleys).
I didn’t realize it, but Ford’s proved it with “Bleisure Class”. That Switzerland Trip? I had two days of work and two days of play. I expensed the working days while enjoying the weekend. The Bleisure Class does this by definition. 80% of people expect support from their bosses to enjoy a work trip. 28% use time on a business trip for leisure.
In my experience, I’d drive two hours to Davos or St. Moritz and set up shop in a hotel or cafe. Get a bit of work done, go for a bike ride, then get back on the road for an hour more. Then I’d do it again.
But this was never a vacation. It was a business trip from the intention. But there’s a flip side: Americans who are trying to vacation, and it turns into a business trip. 29% report getting chatted up by a coworker, and 25% have heard from their boss on holiday.
37% of people want a holiday to be a true disconnected- from work. They still want access to their family and friends networks. For the record, that number was 57% in 2017.
Wifi is high on the priority list for travelers. Ford vehicles actually include Mobile Wifi/WLAN in their vehicle options. Handsfree and voice activation is found in almost every tier of car these days, but only a few do it right. Ford’s SYNC is excellent.
One of the most improbable situations is the “plugging in to check out” paradox. 69% of Americans like being online on holiday. People use technology to listen to music, browse the web, and take photos. The interesting thing is, 2/3 of people want to deliberately disconnect from the day-to-day technology scene.
The ultimate, though, for these young nomads, is the desire for spontaneity. Proof? My Switzerland trip was scheduled two days before I actually took it.
Contrary to all the apps and navigation features to get us to our destinations cheaply and quickly, 52% of Americans actually enjoy getting lost, stumbling upon a place, or exploring an unplanned stop. And road trips remain the favorite American approach. Stopping along the way, having a feeling of ownership and control, and avoiding the airport (yes, it’s really that bad) all reflect in the goal of being free and spontaneous.
About all of this travel: in what vehicle are we doing it? Well, SUV owners are the most loyal. Practicality wins, and the aid of 4×4 (even if not required for the trip) makes Americans feel extra adventurous.
Concepts and companies like Lillian Rafson’s Pack Up + Go are tapping into this desire for surprise and pleasure. Pack Up + Go creates surprise itineraries that encourage wonder and spontaneity over a weekend.
For Ford, it’s a lot of valuable information, for us, it’s a pleasure to see some of our own behaviors get picked up as broader trends. It feels good to know we’re not alone!