“Futurist” is a job title that has come about in the past several years – but contrary to how it sounds, these are not people with crystal balls who can see the future. What they can do is look at the world with a wide-angle lens for situations that could impact businesses and put together a POV on the possible positive and negative implications for your brand. Futurists look at a variety of factors – including geopolitical conflicts, supply chains, climate change, financial markets, social justice movements and pop-culture – to create a picture of the future world in which your business will be operating.
Trying to predict what will happen in the future may seem futile, but it is a valuable exercise for brands – both to leverage favorable factors and also prepare for bumpy roads ahead. Oftentimes brands get stuck heads down in executing their annual marketing plans without taking a moment to think about what’s happening right now and how this will impact the world we live in six months or a year from now. The value of futurecasting lies in piecing together likely scenarios and then preparing for them.
An example of futurecasting would be reading that a company has announced a plan to open a sprawling new headquarters in what is currently a heavily wooded area in a suburb of Denver. Proposed to open in 2026, it would bring thousands of workers and their families to the area.The company works with a future caster to anticipate the challenges the project may face, such as environmental activists seeking to protect wildlife habitats, and local residents fighting the project to avoid a housing crisis and strain on the town’s school system and infrastructure.
Early in 2023, some of the things that I am looking at to future cast for my travel, tourism and hospitality clients are: the reopening of China and what that could mean for inbound and outbound leisure and business travel; the possibility of more record-high temperatures in Europe this summer; potential drought in the Western U.S.; the possibility of airline and rail union strikes in the U.S.; the future of Twitter; and the rapidly expanding tourism market in the Middle East.