The Future of Housesitting – Crystal Ball or Fearless Foresight?
Well the Covid-19 virus has certainly caused disruption, angst and dislocation in the world of housesitting. Far-ranging consequences are as yet only figments of our imagination, but exactly what might we be imagining about the future after this disruption?
The collaboration and concern we have seen shared by individuals, organisations and online communities’ wellbeing is a testament to the global heartedness that these people are known for.
Yet, how are we thinking about the future? Are there some ideas we can be putting in place even before we “know” something for sure?
As nomadic communities all around the globe have been put on hold indefinitely, it seems like each country is navigating its own unique way through the maze of decision necessary to safeguard populations.
Foresight could be one of the major tools we all learn to use.
While markets are disturbed and travel and transportation curtailed, only history will tell how global nomads in all our many communities will function in the aftermath of this situation.
Ten days after arriving at our current sanctuary here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, I was invited by a friend to attend a Zoom Travel Symposium for travel agents whose businesses had recently been decimated. One person shared that after earning in excess of six figures in December, their January sales were a mere $42 and February 40 cents!!!
Opportunities Exist Everywhere
A very good friend of mine, Alex Ramsay owns All Aboard Travel which was founded 47 years ago by her Mum. They are what is known in travel as a FIT “fully independent travel” agency.
Alex and I are on a writing call a couple of times a week. Alex invited
Mike Courtney from Aperio Insights to deliver an on-line presentation to a group of sophisticated travel professionals to shed light on their thinking about the future of the travel industry with various scenarios and how to reframe them in a productive way.
Mike’s presentation was more about “how” to think about travel in the future, not based on any wild crystal ball pronouncements. The following is an abbreviated summary of the subjects Mike and his colleagues covered during this travel summit.
Hindsight – Insight – Foresight
Mike’s basic premise is that with a combination of hindsight, insight and foresight we can establish a historical context, shine the light on trends and key ideas which can prepare us to react to changes in a conscious manner.
When considering the future, futurists focus on four possible scenarios of change:
- The first is a state of continuation, where business as usual returns and the future holds little change. This is almost always the least likely situation, since change is happening 24/7.
- The second scenario is that there are mild disruptions that require our behaviors to adapt or change. We may experience some chaos in the process, but ultimately we would attain a new version of stability and functionality by simply adjusting and riding the wave.
- Thirdly, systems decline and collapse around us. This is frequently a time of disaster, dismay and disarray, a time where we are thrown into situations previously unfathomable and we are frozen by fear and the unknown.
- The fourth state is the transformational state, where something new, something that has never even occurred to us, erupts into existence. The common example of this is Henry Ford who is reported to have said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses, and that was his inspiration for the motor car.
This diagram is a sample mind map.
Mike recommended that the gathered travel professionals take a systematic approach to post pandemic scenarios in their industry, and I suggest that perhaps we housesitters could possibly do the same.
Here are a few of the concepts that senior futurists who focus on the future think in terms of.
Timeless needs are those activities that we have done in the past, are doing currently and will continue to do in the future. Daily actions, like waking up, brushing our teeth, sleeping and eating will always continue for humans for as long as we live. A housesitting example would be that home owners will still travel, and need care for their pets.
Changing values can cause some upheaval particularly in the arenas of technology, economics, environmental and political policies. We are to expect this.
In the meeting, we were challenged to consider our own values, if our values were changing and at the end what was our current perspective on what this disruption might mean to our relationship with travel.
Naturally when looking ahead foresight is the most strongly preferred instrument. It goes well beyond creativity and crystal ball gazing. Foresight creates understanding that in turn drives change. It also allows individuals and organisations to implement systems that can create impact and helps people pivot to new experiences.
Housesitting-Foresight and Can We Benefit?
Have you been thinking about what’s ahead for our beloved Housesitting community and how the future is changing?
Questions that have arisen for us include:
Will Covid-free certification be required for all travelers? When will borders open? Will there ever be a new normal that we can recognize? What will it require for Home Owners to feel comfortable again inviting Housesitters into their homes? What kind of health certificates or reassurances might they demand? What questions will Housesitters be need to ask Home Owners in order to alleviate their concerns about hygiene, cleanliness and moving into a covid-free environment?
What’s the future for VRBO, Air B&B etc? How will the pandemic affect the cost of travel? Will our freedom of movement be limited? Will some nationalities be unwelcome in some countries in future? Will we be forced to stay in our own countries?
Golly, on and on it goes, we figured we could either drive ourselves mad by asking the unanswerable, at this point, or we can be proactive, build momentum and start thinking with foresight.
Clearly the traditional thinking and systems we have used in the housesitting industry may be challenged and have to be reconsidered.
Nevertheless, we know that the housesitting communities are filled with adventurers who are willing to take on life, to take some risk and to go where others dare not go!
I have always believed that travel was essentially a tool for transformation, but I never ever imagined this level of disruption.
Housesitting may require new skills or safeguards in the future. We will all have to learn to identify and adapt to the new emerging trends.
Mike and colleagues recommend three things we might consider:
- To pay attention to forecasts
- Be guided by our unique perspectives
- Use our built-in Hindsight, Insight and Foresight
While I am pretty sure that the bonds of collaboration, cooperation and consistent service that have been built over the years will stand us in good stead for the next years, I am hopeful that we can weather this storm with compassion and perseverance.