Why We Celebrate? From The Wicked Witch is Dead to Mankinis

Why did some people want to celebrate Mrs Thatcher’s death?  In many parts of the UK there were street parties and the Wizard of Oz song ‘Ding Dong: The Wicked Witch is Dead’ was a chart hit. Putting aside your political views about Margaret Thatcher. The world today celebrates everything. It’s called ‘Everyday Exceptional’ – the consumers desire for occasion, to seek more reasons to endorse moments of fun and legitimise indulgent experiences.  Basically we like to celebrate. As we are living longer there will be more birthdays, wedding anniversaries and wakes. There are more students than ever and thus more graduation ceremonies. On the whole, consumers seem welcome to this idea of infusing more life and joy into their days, from the sensible to the silly, the ironic and emotional. Humans intrinsically seek celebration.  More than a novelty, celebration makes the air lighter, people feel happier because celebration allows the weight and stress of their world to be momentarily lifted.

The consumer definition of luxury falls under continuous cultural redefinition and this helps to lengthen the list of socially acceptable party pretexts. As a consequence, it was Hester Brown who said:

Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of champagne in the fridge. 

Champagne sales in the UK have increased by 40% over the last 10 years. According to a recent Wine Intelligence Survey, the number one reason outlets stock champagne is for special occasion sales \- and these reasons for occasion seem to be growing. Even dinner parties or small gatherings with friends can now solicit reason to bring on the bubbly.

It was Borat that brought us the Mankini to the Hertz Rugby Sevens.   Though not typical of  male party clothing it was a symbol of hedonism. Parties, which are not necessarily for the sport fanatic, but rather, for the party-lover… the game, race, match become secondary to the social gathering it spurs. There seems to be a natural increase in the number of occasions human beings choose to celebrate. At one time, steak dinners and party hats were the odd treat, reserved for certain special and perhaps extraordinary moments. But now, not only does each new season bring cause to celebrate but one can find an excuse every month, week or day to buy that new outfit, make merry and indulge in new ways. Under the modern forces of globalisation, there are now a number of national and religious holidays we can choose to celebrate. Ours is a constantly imbricating culture, in which there are simply ever more prompts to treat the day differently.  The result has been the transformation of the everyday into the exceptional.


In 2012, supermarket chain Kroger announced that branches in Southeast America would sell Girlfriends Wine  -  a range designed to suit different tastes and personalities and cover every occasion. Each of the options  -  which comprise “Party Girl”, “Wild Girl”, “Romantic Girl“, “Classy Girl” and “Good Girl”  -  carries a description of the occasion it is suitable to accompany. Classy Girl, for example, offers : “a sophisticated, stylish Chardonnay with hints of vanilla that transitions seamlessly from daytime to night-time for pleasure-seeking consumers”.


And those offers with a strong and obvious connection to social display have adjusted everywhere. Celebrating occasions with appropriate flair is becoming easier as luxury goods and services  -  which were once available to an elite demographic  -   are now accessible through temporary ownerships. Virtually anyone can acquire the right human bunting, fun visual champagne these days. For example Ma Bonne Amie is a French rental retail website, allowing consumers to rent dresses and accessories for a number of occasions, from parties to weddings, including appropriate wear for attending  -  and being part of  -  a civil ceremony.

The Future Foundation is suggesting is that there is now reasons to convene a party, taste special foods, drink nice wine, pat someone on the back, make a fuss of a friend, recognise an achievement, make a break in the established routine, give a day a special name, mark an event etc.

As societies grow wealthier, certain overlapping motives release special energy; the need for organised fun, the search for reasons to interact (in) formally with others and the pursuit of  endorsed cultural identity. As a consequence, this turns sporting events into a reasons for celebration not for sporting fans but party lovers. Hence the reason the Hertz Wellington Sevens has got nothing to do with rugby just like the Kentucky Derby is a fashion show not a horse race or Wimbledon is all about Pimm’s rather than Tennis and so on. So, the future looks bright for parties and celebration.

Dr Ian Yeoman

Victoria University of Wellington









Technological Development

The breakneck speed of digital development and technological innovation, which one can expect only to further accelerate as the 2010’s progress, continues to impact the travel sector. Holidaymakers now expect more from travel services in relation to both the organisation and delivery of the vacation. They increasingly research and book online, as opposed or in addition to visiting high street/mall outlets; they utilise a growing range of travel-based mobile apps before, during and after the journey; they expect the whole travel experience to be digitally enhanced in ever more inventive ways. The rise of the smartphone and tablet ownership means travellers can now potentially enjoy their own portable concierge in the form of their personal devices – taking smartphones, laptops or tablets with them on their travels and using them at different stages throughout their excursion. In some countries, more than two-thirds of iPad owners now use their device on holiday or while travelling. In the future, the smartphone/tablet will be not just a source of entertainment during the holiday but a problem-solving, efficiency-enriching, convenience-supplying tool all along the way. Today’s consumer is one of Mobile Living, never being without portable net-accessing machinery and all the experiences it offers – will be a defining trend of the rest of the decade and it is expected that, in the future, the smartphone will be the new holiday companion dislodging the traditional travel guide, especially in developed markets where smartphone penetration is fast approaching majority levels. As well as rising smartphone ownership, the evolution of tablet technology will influence the kinds of services consumers seek from travel and tourism providers in the future. The tablet platform is poised to revolutionise customer service propositions and is already being exploited as a concierge device, adding extra value to hotels and attractions. So much technological innovation will enable consumers to eradicate the burdens associated with holidaying – finding the right deal, remembering to check-in on time, sourcing authentic spots to visit, buying the right kind of insurance. Many more services will emerge that help to eradicate any time-wasting, missed planes, fun-less outings etc. Many may well feel that a holiday is the perfect time to remove oneself from digitally connected living. As technology weaves more tightly into the fabric of our lives, it is indeed foreseeable that certain consumers will value the chance to digitally detox from time to time and prefer to holiday without connecting to their devices. But this will be only a minority sport.

Technological Innovation is Everywhere:

From Africa to God Even in Africa, the smartphone market in Africa has enjoyed rapid growth in the last two years. Mobile banking in certain African nations has been introduced to help service low-income populations who would ordinarily have no access to financial services. The rise of mobile living in Africa has also impacted upon travel. In 2010, Kenya Airways joined M-PESA and Airtel Money to enable consumers without a bank account to purchase flights. Elsewhere, the South Africa Tourism Board launched a mobile site targeting other African consumers with select travel deals, while the Nigerian travel agency www.wakenow.com launched Africa’s first dedicated travel app in 2011, including searches for flights, hotels and car rental. In London, each capsule of the London Eye attraction contains a Samsung Galaxy Tab featuring interactive touch-screen guides, key information on landmarks and a 3D view of each sight. In March 2012, the attraction also launched an augmented reality app for smartphone users. Even God is getting on the act.

In 2011, YouTube partnered with the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information to live stream Hajj 2011. Millions of people were able to follow the event live on video. “Wonderful. I feel I am right there amongst the pilgrims” was one of many complimentary comments left on the Hajj Live channel from those who could not attend in person. Gesture recognition technology is at the heart of the Room 3120 concept – Microsoft and Novotel’s vision of the hotel room of the future. The room also comprises foldaway furniture, multimedia tables and a Sensorit interactive mirror. It’s all a matter of innovation everywhere.