The station-wagon vacation is a thing now, says the NY Times

The travel industry has always been one to look forward. Travel companies were often built through the embrace of, and in service to, revolutionary technologies.

Pan-Am and TWA connected the world by convincing consumers that plane travel wasn’t limited to daredevils and military pilots. Motels were nothing more than motor hotels: less expensive lodging built to serve the soaring popularity of cars after WWII.

Many travel companies have also been built by embracing the past.

We send tour buses through battlefields, offer guided tours to ancient ruins, and build hotels that look like a child’s vision of a Tudor castle.

And sometimes the travel industry does both: planting one foot firmly in the past and the other in the future. This is one of those times.

Driving to the future through the past

Shortly after the coronavirus began its spread, most of the travel industry ground to a halt. Planes, hotels, convention centers, cruise ships, etc. all sat empty.

But here at <intent>, we quickly noted data that showed the birth of something both old and new that pointed toward recovery. We dubbed it the “station-wagon vacation” and predicted the world would soon see “a rise in car-traveling families eager to see and do something new, but safe.” We noted that development “could prove to be great news for small, regional, family-friendly hotels and motels as well as other low-cost lodging.”

Now the New York Times reports that we were right: the station-wagon vacation is a thing. According to the Times, smart hotels are promoting the nostalgia of the family road trip by embracing family travel, swimming pools, drive-in movies, and other “familiar tropes of the family car ride to a beach, the mountains or a national park.”

What’s most interesting to us about the Times article is that it also notes that hotels have adopted newer, more sophisticated technologies to promote these station-wagon vacations. In an environment as difficult and unchartered as is the coronavirus era, they had little choice. Or as one executive phrased it, “most of our traditional data signals don’t really help us in the current environment.”

So here’s the thing: we can help with that. If you’d like to chat about how new approaches to data can drive traffic to your business, click on the “Contact Us” link in the bottom-right hand corner of this page.

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