Presentation of the first set of results invited by QORF for their Coffee & Conversation September 18th, 2020
On January 30th, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been declared ‘public health emergency of international concern’ (World Health Organisation (WHO). 2020)leading to a global lockdown where leaders“have implemented the world’s largest and most restrictive mass quarantines.” (Kaplan et al. 2020).Among the restrictions implemented, travel bans, limited mobility, and social distancing have confined individuals to their homes and eliminated the possibility to engage in once normal consumption behaviors including travelling and vacations.
Yet travels and vacations serve a critical function: they allow for a break from the daily, ordinary routine enabling individuals to find respite into an extraordinary experience (Appendix 1). Humans need tools to equip themselves for hard times and travel is one of them. (Smith 2013) It has been proved that “rest is not only necessary; its absence may cause serious illnesses and even the workers death (deaths due to overwork in Japan or karoshi are a real example). » (Bretones, 2017). Also, the role and benefits of holidays in people lives are multiples. (Pritchard and Morgan, 2013).
During extraordinary experiences, individuals (a) visit different physical spaces; (b) are exposed to different worldviews, habits, and norms; (c) discover new aspects of themselves by being exposed to situations not normally encountered in the ordinary; and (d) forge new social connections (Orazi and van Laer, 2020). Returning from extraordinary experiences can be profoundly transformative (Reisinger 2013): individuals often incorporate the worldviews and logics of the worlds they have visited into their own, and update their identity projects accordingly (Husemann and Eckhardt 2019). Research also proved that people can suffer from “the post-holiday blues” or (post-vacation blues). (Bretones, 2017).
“One of the common coping mechanisms for human beings is ‘fight’ or ‘flight’, the latter implying escape” (Smith, 2013). The reasons behind travelling can be different, however, “the desire to travel and escape from what Baudelaire referred to as the ‘spleen’ of everyday life and alienation from society is an age-old phenomenon (Smith, 2003a). The democratization of travel has revolutionized the ability to get away at least temporarily, but unfortunately, travel is often one of the first activities that is cut during times of recession. When traveling becomes impossible due to global restrictions, how do individuals compensate the need for extraordinary escapes?
This research project aims at understanding how isolated individuals (due to COVID-19 lock-down) compensate the lack of the distinctive facets of travel as an extraordinary experience during times in which mobility is restricted. Using the COVID-19 crisis as the context of investigation, I specifically aim to understand what compensatory consumption practices individuals engage into during lockdown times to remedy the lack of travel, and whether those practices have a positive effect in coping with this form of isolation. I ask three research questions:
In pre-crisis times, which of the four main values of vacation as an “extraordinary experience” do consumers miss the most upon returning to their daily routine? How does being isolated due to the COVID-19 restrictions influence this perception?
What compensatory consumption practices do consumers engage into to appropriate this missing value? Specifically, what substitutes do they consume, and to what avail? Relatedly, this research question also aims at understanding how market actors are “delivering unique, extraordinary and memorable tourism experiences to potential visitors in order to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors (Hudson & Ritchie, 2009; Ritchie & Hudson,2009)” in this time of crisis?
How do individual’s factors, including cultural worldviews and dispositional traits, influence which compensatory consumption practices are enacted?
Answering these questions would provide significant contributions to the tourism and extraordinary experience literature, shedding light on how consumers replicate the holiday experience in subsequent “leisure - tourism” experience to help maintain subjective well-being (Shane J. Lopez, C. R. Snyder, 2011).
Delphine anticipate this multi-disciplinary project will yield ground-breaking insights on how individuals cope with isolation in times of crisis, and whether the compensatory behaviors they enact have a positive or negative effect on their well-being when they are banned from touring. It will document the pluralism of compensatory practices consumers engage into, whether they are effective or not, and why.
The results will also provide the market’s actors with information about the needs of their target.
Defining what people miss from their travels would also be an opportunity for employers to have a better understanding of their employee needs in terms of work and vacation balance in a way they could support them to transit in-between the two worlds and might potentially foster better motivation and productivity.