What if it's not Revenge Travel, but the New Normal?

Right before the Disney-Hates-Poor-People thread went off the capitalism rails, eightdotthree wrote:

Attendance is up at USO as well which leads me to believe that the record profits and attendance are still a pandemic aftershock.

This got me thinking--what if it isn't an aftershock, but rather a post-earthquake reconfiguration?

I think it is clear that a lot of attitudes about work and what it means have shifted, and some of those shifts will be long-lasting. Some of the underlying workforce issues are also about demographics, but not all of them. Collectively, we don't view work as being as central to our identities as we once did.

Anecdotally, the twitter exodus is a good example of this. Some large fraction of the remaining 3,500 employees took one look at "agree to be hardcore or leave with three months severance," and said: three months sounds great, here's where you mail the check. Even at the low end of "several hundred" taking the out means about 10%, and the estimates only go up from there. Those folks are going to find other work, but this isn't exactly gold rush time in tech. Meta is cutting 11K. Amazon is likely to cut 10K. It's not like it was five years ago, where pretty much every engineer got a handful of recruiter emails every week.

(Of course, twitter is it's own thing for a variety of reasons. I've been thinking of leaving academia, and I have a list of tech companies I would never work for no matter the price. Twitter is now on it.)

But it's easy to believe that these changes in how we think of ourselves and what matters to us are not limited to work. What if there's been a seismic shift in how we not only view work, but leisure? We were already on an "experiences not things" transition, and one way to think about the pandemic is that it accelerated a bunch of trends that were already happening.

Last edited by Brian Noble,
Jeff's avatar

Actually, the recruiter calls are still coming, I assure you. I've struggled to fill open roles. The press keeps talking about a "tech meltdown" using the lens of the biggest companies, which is incomplete. As I like to point out, big tech employs a lot of people, but I suspect as a portion of industry hires, they're probably a single-digit percentage combined. Most of the software made is made elsewhere, but we romanticize Google and the like.

But I get it, that wasn't really your point. The "where does work fit" question I agree has become central to more people. Another anecdote, but I've been in a pendulum for years between "bill like a transient consultant" and "crush the mission (and give me equity)!" Now I'm thinking, when can I stop. What's the point at which I can realistically retire? I can't wait until 67. But there's still a wide range of circumstances. I could easily go six months without working (I have, in 2001 and 2009), and it wouldn't ruin me. So by extension, I don't like price increases, but I'll buy passes and visit parks anyway. I guess the question for me is, am I reacting this way because of my age (49), or because of the pandemic experience?

But even looking at broader trends, consumer spending overall is still fairly robust despite inflation, so people must still be buying some "stuff." Cars in particular are a pinch, but then again, those facilitate experiences. One trade group suggests that international travel won't return to normal until 2024, implying that domestic travel is high, contributing to the theme park rush. But maybe just looking at the trends prior to the pandemic is enough. Attendance was already on a multi-year climb.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I think you're onto something, especially a further shift toward experiences and not things. The supply chain issues have made "things" harder and more expensive to acquire and, while experiences have the same cost increases, they're at least more immediately attainable. I would give cars as a prime example. The last time I took my wife's car to a dealership for service last summer, there were less than a dozen new cars on the lot and this was a dealership widely known as one of the largest Toyota houses in the area. I can count on one hand the number of people I know that have purchased a new car in the last 3 years. That said, I can easily book a trip to Disney if I have the money. The same can't be said for any number of things I would want to acquire.

Edit: Jeff's reply came in while I was typing mine. I had the same thought about pre-pandemic trends of rising attendance.

Last edited by bigboy,

Fun's avatar

"Hard Work = Upward Mobility Potential" has been the promise in the US for generations. Millennials and Gen Z's are now seeing that doesn't apply to them. Therefore the change towards working less and experiencing more is not surprising. It also helps explain why "Disney Hates Poor People" is a thing- even more people want the experience which increases demand, all the while our middle class is shrinking and fewer people believe* they can pay for it.

*yes, this is about prioritization of discretionary spending dollars

Jeff's avatar

I know I keep saying it, but "the middle class is shrinking" without acknowledging that more people "graduate" up than down is rhetorical half-truth. It doesn't mean that the "down" shouldn't be addressed, but this talking point is frequently used to call out the "evils" of capitalism.

The "work hard" thing has always been a myth, but only partially so. Some of your likely outcomes are attributed to the birth lottery, but it still requires some degree of hard work even if you do win the lottery.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Like most things, I think there are a number of factors involved so you can't point to one driver (or even primary driver) to explain. From what I see the "experiences versus things" is more marketing/spin than it is real. Younger generation (doing what younger generations do) pointing to the older generation and say we, the younger generation, are doing things differently/better than you, older generation. Have at it kid.

As a general matter, women are less likely to marry/date down in terms of economics than men. More women are now going to college meaning you are creating more couples (married or not) with combined higher incomes. Not absolutes though.

When I got out of college, the thing to do was go get married and have kids. Pretty much all of my cohorts did just that. Very few of my kids' cohorts are married and almost none of them have kids at this point. Having kids later/having fewer/none will allow for spending more on non-essentials.

I do see younger people in my corner of the world talking about work/life balance. Though interestingly enough they want the income that goes with the more work just want to work less. Working out better than it should right now for them (labor market is definitely in their favor but there are signs its turning and the economics of that really don't work long term). Work life balance to someone who is single with no kids/married with no kids or otherwise a couple with no kids is a lot different than it was for me with a wife at home with a couple of kids (and that was most of my work cohort at the time). A lot easier to have employment gaps at that point too.

Again in my corner of the world (and in other corners from people I interact with) with very few exceptions, making "a lot" of money will require a lot of work. Different people will define "a lot" differently though. And if someone says they don't want to put in the required hours and prefer more work/life balance, god bless them. But you can't expect to make the same amount of money as those working harder. Though if you find one that does, have at it. Though there are a lot fewer of those jobs than there are people looking for them which puts downward pressures on compensation (absent special skills which are not common).

When people drop out of the work force, unless they have substantial savings/pension/etc, what are they doing for money to live? You aren't going for living paycheck to paycheck to dropping out of the workforce.

Generational changes could be part of it, but some of those changes stick when youngins become old fogies.

Jeff's avatar


Though interestingly enough they want the income that goes with the more work just want to work less.

I've encountered these people who think an MBA guarantees a corner office, sure, but I think this generalization is toxic and generally untrue. The young people that have worked for me, including interns, have all had a realistic view of the world and what they could achieve early in their career. They're not afraid of "hard" work, whatever that is, provided they find it impactful and satisfying. But even the Type-A over-achievers recognize that you don't have to kill yourself in white collar jobs to be comfortable and satisfied professionally. That's my corner of the world.

...with very few exceptions, making "a lot" of money will require a lot of work.

I just don't buy that. The whole point of technological advance is to be more efficient in the way we work. What's possible now compared to 30 years ago is night and day. In the interim, we've developed some really bad habits, not the least of which is being available 24/7 and not maintaining boundaries between work and life, but the pandemic seems to have helped adjust that. (This is old-hat to me, because I've worked from home on and off for two decades... you figure it out.) Smarter, not harder, outcome driven, not clock driven. That's what success looks like today.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I specifically stated that its in my corner of the world. Not sure how that is read to be a broad generalization. But whatever. Its also consistent with what I hear from others in similar industries and in other parties of the country. Again that isn't a broad generalization but I guess that needs to be expressly stated.

My guess is part of the difference is industry. I have a kid in the tech industry but not a lot of other contacts with it. Some may be geographic (though again its consistent with others I talk to in my industry across the country). And some likely difference in terms of what "comfortable" means. Our associates start well north of comfortable for the most people.

You sound like some of our associates (and to be clear not all of them). Client doesn't need this to be done tonight or today. Next week will be fine. Not our call. Its the client's call. If you don't want to accept that, you won't last long. And if we don't work to that schedule as a firm, client will find another firm that will. Not true in all industries (and to be clear, I am not stating it is). Another issue I expect is how different people define "a lot" of money (though I stated that already).

This is old-hat to me, because I've worked from home on and off for two decades... you figure it out.

Total WTF. Presumably you understand many jobs cannot be done remotely? And you can still work a lot of hours remotely or in a work location? There are some people who have found by the way that working from home causes more issues for them with maintaining a boundary between work and life (in large part because there is no physical boundary between where they work and where they live). They prefer to not work remotely. But maybe they just haven't figured it out yet, right?

Work smarter not harder is definitely an option. But the person who works smarter and harder will likely (note not always) make more money all other things being equal. Different people find different balances there. Which is the way is should be (to be clear not the way it shouldn't be).

Question for you based on your "purpose of technological advances" statement. You own a company that makes widgets (from economics not an iphone). You employ 30 people who make widgets largely by hand. You decide to purchase machines that make your employees more productive. Work is also safer and less physically demanding. Productivity doubles. You can either keep 30 employees and double your output (if you can double your sales). Or keep output the same but reduce your workforce to 15. Or anywhere in between. Employees are 2x as productive. Are you doubling their comp?

Jeff's avatar


Its the client's call.

Having consulted for almost half of my career, it's only their call if you fail to set expectations. I've never overworked my teams because someone has aspirations for ASAP.

Presumably you understand many jobs cannot be done remotely?

That literally has nothing to do with what I was talking about. I was talking about setting boundaries as a remote worker. That some jobs require being in a seat has nothing to do with it.

Your last question is also not relevant. I thought I was being pretty clear that I was talking about white collar jobs, but making durable widgets.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog


They prefer to not work remotely.

I prefer to never work remotely again. Just a few months of remote teaching was enough to make me start counting down to retirement. The boundary between work and home was always flimsy in education but the pandemic blew that apart.

You have consulted??!! OMG!!! I had no idea. Changes all of my answers. Totally agree with you. On everything. Had I only known. Ever heard the phrase those who can't, consult? LOL

it's only their call if you fail to set expectations. I've never overworked my teams because someone has aspirations for ASAP.

Your last question is also not relevant. I thought I was being pretty clear that I was talking about white collar jobs, but making durable widgets.

If I give you some names of my competitor firms, will you please provide consulting services to them. Please. I'll even cover part of the fees. Confident I will be able to cut my years to retirement in half. At least.

Jeff's avatar

I don't need your approval or validation when I have it from my clients, customers, teams or whatever. But please, dish out more sarcasm about why my management tactics are wrong, especially the bits about setting expectations. I certainly didn't invent the idea of under promising and over delivering. Or just keep up the ad hominem angle.

If I had to kill myself or my teams to get where I am, I wouldn't have done it. That juice ain't with the squeeze. I can't take the money with me, and I'll never remember what the work even was. But I'll always remember the people.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Lots of noise there. Resulting primarily from fighting/defending points not being contested, confusing different and wrong and thinking something that is true in certain circumstances is true in all.

I expect I will remember the people I work with most when I hang up the cleats. Likely true for many people given how much time you spend either together or interacting, working towards common goals, etc.

I suggest adding ad hominem to the site bingo card.

Jephry's avatar

It’s likely the new normal. Most have mentioned this already…we are more into spending our money on experiences, not necessarily “things.” You can count me in that group. Even before the pandemic, tourism has been going up and international travel has been going up. We are likely looking at demand being up more than down if the quality is there.

And there are ways to control it. Disney has focused on dynamic pricing, which attempts to get crowds under control, but also makes them a hefty amount of money. Alternatively, parks could also just lower their capacity and deny folks after a certain number of tickets are sold. But of course without dynamic pricing, you’re leaving money on the table. I’m sure there are a number of other alternatives, but I’m interested to see how it plays out in the next few years.

Jeff's avatar

I hope there's some impact on attendance soon, because it doesn't seem to have made a dent yet.


I suggest adding ad hominem to the site bingo card.

That's what I expect you to say instead of responding to the actual topic of whether "extra" or "hard" work is necessary.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog


Alternatively, parks could also just lower their capacity and deny folks after a certain number of tickets are sold

Disney is kinda sorta not really doing this with the reservation system. But the cap on daily attendance seems to be staffing related rather than capacity related, and there are still plenty of days the parks are stupid busy with available reservations.

We really won’t know until the next recession. When it hits, people will need to cut back on something, it will either be stuff or travel predominantly. That will tell the answer to your question.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

topic of whether "extra" or "hard" work is necessary.

That you apparently believe there is enough context there to have a meaningful discussion on said topic is the problem. You appear to believe the answer is the same for every job in all circumstances and at all times no matter the definitions of extra, hard or necessary. If that's your belief, I disagree and there is nothing more to say. If not, I don't see a point in having a discussion that totally lacks context.

If you like discussions without context, how about whether going "fast or "far" is necessary. Or how much water is needed. Possibilities here endless. So have at it.

That's what I expect you to say

You expected me to suggest adding ad hominem to the site bingo card? Gonna have to call total B.S. on that. Initially thought of suggesting "Jeff says ad hominem." But seemed redundant. ;)

Jeff's avatar

Oh, so now you want to engage? That's an improvement. At least it's not trolling.

You appear to believe the answer is the same for every job in all circumstances and at all times no matter the definitions of extra, hard or necessary. If that's your belief, I disagree and there is nothing more to say.

I don't believe that's the case for every job, and I never indicated as such. But you specifically called out "clients," which implies not building durable widgets, but doing white collar work for another firm. And I'm telling you, with two decades of experience, and a great deal of influence from European friends, coworkers and acquaintances (and a little from the Basecamp people), that working in excess of 40 hours a week is not necessary to achieve "success." In many parts of Europe, it's because local regulations prohibit this kind of work, but here in the US, it's because I have always subscribed to the notion that this silly American "work for all the things" mentality is utter bull**** and unnecessary. My experience has validated this to nth degree. My teams have never worked in excess of 40 hours unless there was some unforeseen technical issue, and I have not set the expectation that they should have to. That's because I've always set realistic expectations with customers and clients. This 24/7 availability thing is nonsense.

It appears you have different experience, and I'm not saying that you don't or that it's not valid for your situation. But I am deeply suspect that it is necessary beyond some cultural edict that got you there. I have enjoyed more than two decades of work that did not require excessive hours, with great financial gain (and maybe despite being autistic), and I can't believe that I'm some outlier anecdote.

Set the right expectations for white collar work, be outcome driven, live a happy, lucrative and balanced life.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

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