What Did 'Back To The Future II' Get Right About The Future of Travel?
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures. All other photos via Futurepedia.
Today, Oct. 21, 2015, is a day that many pop culture junkies have been looking forward to for nearly 30 years.
Yes, today is the future.
On this day, young time traveler Marty McFly left his native 1985 in a fusion-powered DeLorean time machine, arriving in the far-flung future of 2015. Oct. 21, to be precise.
And while the 2015 portrayed in "Back to the Future II" made some bold predictions about technology, some true (flat-screen HDTVs, video chat) some not-so-true (hoverboards, flying cars), we are more interested in what the world of travel looked like in 2015.
Where did 1985 think we’d be traveling to by 2015? How did it think we’d get there? Turns out, the film had a lot to say about the world of travel in 2015. And as is the case for most of its predictions, it turned out to be kind of a mixed bag.
Prominently displayed in one scene is a poster advertising surf vacations in Vietnam. To audiences in 1989, this would have been hilarious, since Vietnam was only just ending its policy of political isolation. Those policy reforms, which began in 1986, would ultimately see it restoring diplomatic relations with nearly every country in the world by the year 2000. It has since seen tourism skyrocket; and yes, you can totally surf there.
The only thing that keeps this prediction from being a home run? The prominent USAir logo plastered across the top, since the airline (which rebranded to US Airways six months before the movie came out — oops) took its final flight just four days before Back to the Future Day. You couldn’t have hung on for one more week, guys? Come on.
Tucked away just to the side of Goldie Wilson III’s hover conversion shop in 2015’s Hill Valley was a storefront for UNIGLOBE Travel, a brand established in 1979 and still going strong today. And while most travel agencies are hanging up their shingle online versus in the town square, we’re going to count this prediction as spot on, since UNIGLOBE Travel has several hundred full-service locations in about 60 countries.
What’s most interesting about this prediction, however, isn’t what the storefront was in 2015. It’s what it was in 1955 and 1985.
The same space occupied by Uniglobe Travel in 2015 was home to “Ask Mr. Foster Travel Agency." That transition, it turns out, was by design.
"In the 1955 and 1985 time periods in the movie series, a travel agency is represented by Ask Mr. Foster’s Travel Service — which we know is a storied name in travel, but one that represents the past," said Andrew Henry, vice president of U.S. Operations & Industry Relations for UNIGLOBE. "In watching the 2015 periods of the film, you can see that the producers wanted to represent the future of the various industries. The producers approached us about having a UNIGLOBE Travel location in the future and we were pleased to participate as a representation of the future of travel."
And although we may not have the movie's version of hoverboards and our cars are stuck firmly on the ground, we can be thankful the movie got one thing right. No matter which 2015 you visit, people still love to travel.
"We think that this is a great message: through the changes that the movie predicted and those that occurred in reality, full service travel agencies and travel management companies like UNIGLOBE are still a major part of the future of travel."
(Interesting side note about Mr. Foster’s Travel Agency: The sign advertising vacations to Cuba, which were of course legal in 1955, but embargoed in 1985. If you really wanted to impress us, "Back to the Future II," you’d have put that sign back where it belonged by 2015).
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