If search data and sales numbers are any indication, the travel and tourism industries may be on the road to recovery.
COVID-19 and the travel industry have not been getting along these past two years. Vacations have been replaced with staycations. Consumers re-allocated their travel budgets toward streaming subscriptions and food delivery. Influencers are posting fewer pictures of beach bungalows and more videos of their pets.
So if we’re looking for any reason to be optimistic about the trajectory of the pandemic, we’d likely find it the buying and search habits of would-be travelers. And lately, things have been looking up.
Consider the humble travel adapter. Virtually indispensable for international travel. And with the recent proliferation of USB-C and PD (Power Delivery) devices on the market, an adapter purchased in 2018 might be starting to look a little less relevant. There have been plenty of companies offering newer solutions, but since the end of 2019, those products have largely sat motionless in fulfillment centers. If you’re not expecting wind, you’re not going to buy a kite. And if your travel outlook is grim, you’re not going to buy a travel adapter.
Lately, it seems that consumers are finally expecting wind again. On Amazon, many travel adapters are suddenly out of stock, due to an influx of sales. While it’s wise to be wary of reading too much into what little information is publicly available on Amazon, this conclusion is corroborated in a more transparent arena: crowdfunding.
At nine o’clock Tuesday morning, Palo Alto-based Zendure launched their new travel adapter and “everything charger”, Passport III, on Kickstarter. They achieved their fundraising goal of $5,000 USD within the first sixty seconds. By 1:30, over 1,500 backers had pre-ordered the 65W GaN charger, to the tune of $100,000. Currently the campaign is edging toward doubling those figures in the next 24 hours.
There are myriad reasons why Passport III might be getting more attention than its competitors. It’s lightweight and compact for its 65W output. It can charge many newer USB-C-powered laptops at full speed without a proprietary charger. It has four USB-C ports, and enough ports altogether to charge up to six devices at once. All of the necessary connectors are built in, it has a self-resetting fuse, and it comes in three dazzling colors with a nostalgia-inducing translucent enclosure. Mark Sparrow of Forbes has even called Zendure’s new travel charger “the Swiss Army knife of power adapters”.
But the impressive performance of the company’s latest crowdfunding campaign isn’t just about features and specs and competition. Look at Google search trends, showing a steep incline on queries containing “travel adapters” and “hotels”. Look at countries and cities cautiously but steadily lifting restrictions on traveling and dining out. Even mask mandates–arguably a measure that has minimal impact on a person’s ability to go about their normal life–are gradually fading away, as medical experts express optimism that the worst of the pandemic may be in the rear view mirror.
Zendure’s success is largely a case of offering the right product at the right time. Consumer enthusiasm about Passport III might just be the sign we’re looking for that we’re getting closer to “normal”, a shining neon-purple glimmer of hope at the end of a long and dark tunnel.