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Trend report lowdown: Retro Reboot

Nostalgia is driving the travel and hospitality industries in a new – though strangely familiar – direction. Retro Reboot, one of our latest trend reports, reveals how to capitalise on it.

So, hospitality and travel are having something of a retro reboot?

They are, and iconic, out-of-fashion destinations are being revitalised as a result. Benidorm is back.

Should I be booking my summer holiday there, then?

You’d be in good company. When Lastminute.com released its 10 most popular holiday spots for 2018, Benidorm came top.

Are tourists heading there purely out of nostalgia?

Not necessarily out of nostalgia per se. Travel companies – and destinations themselves – have realised that reimagining once-popular resorts (and the packages that take them there) is a lucrative thing to do.

“The much-maligned package holiday is enjoying an unexpected renaissance,” Lastminute.com’s country director UK and Ireland, Reigo Eljas, said. “Rather than just being all about simplicity, the package holidays of 2018 are about giving consumers the chance to build tailored packages of flights, hotels and experiences.”

Where else is being revitalised?

Blackpool. The UK seaside resort has received £500m of public and private investment, which has allowed it to host events like the aptly named Revival music festival, which is starting this year.

Meanwhile, Butlins – a chain of family-oriented holiday camps – has experienced a 7.5% increase in bookings. Could this in part be down to the look of its chalet interiors, which now hark back to the 1950s?

Does the Retro Reboot trend extend beyond Europe?

It does. Look at the American road trip – in 2016, 39% of American travel included a road trip (up 17 points from the previous year). This year, 85% of US holidays are expected to be domestic – a figure largely driven, ahem, by nostalgic boomers.

In Australia, meanwhile, we’re witnessing the reinvention of the Sydney milk bar. These cafes, which were usually run by Greek migrants, used to be a huge part of the city’s culture. Their new incarnations, one owner told us, are proving popular with “nostalgia-seekers” and locals alike.

Have hospitality brands cottoned on to this new demand?

They’ve started to, yes. New York’s JFK International Airport is converting the Trans World Airlines building, designed in 1962, into the TWA Hotel. Opening in 2019, its design reflects the golden age of flying; guests can expect, in the words of project lead Tyler Morse, to be “immersed in the ethos of 1962’s rich culture, architecture, sights, sounds and ambiance”.

In Thailand, the former Bangkok Weekly office is now an eight-room hotel that recreates Thailand’s mid-20th century publishing heyday, where printing machinery is used as décor and wood-panelled walls feature heavily.  

Dewi Pinatih, our senior editor of Product Design, says developments like these represent an “exciting opportunity to experience historic and postmodern architecture” – for guests and locals. “Interior design that’s in keeping with the architectural era amplifies this experience.”

What else will Retro Reboot teach me?

That some travellers with an eye on the past are looking for suitably nostalgic active experiences, how a new era of (non-digital) family holiday films could be upon us, and why partnering with museums could be a shrewd move for travel and hospitality brands.

If you’re a Stylus member, you can read Retro Reboot now. If you’re not, and you’d like to discover the benefits of joining, get in touch.