CONCEPT 2021: The Future of Travel in the Ozarks

January 21, 2022
Jeremy Wells

In the final month of 2021, we invited a small group of developers, investors, creatives, and entrepreneurs to gather for two days of camaraderie, collaboration, and connection. We called this event “concept“.

Over the course of two days, our group spent time hiking the beautiful trails of Northwest Arkansas, playing yard games creekside, discussing important subjects fireside, and eating some of the best food this area has to offer – courtesy of an incredible private chef.

Why the Ozarks?

The Ozarks are full of untapped opportunities related to attracting a new generation of tourists and travelers. However, there is a noticeable lack of innovation and design. This retreat was focused on finding creative solutions and new ideas to usher in a new era of travel, tourism, and hospitality into the Ozarks.

Our region is full of natural beauty, activities, and adventure that rival even some of the top drive-to tourist destinations in our country, and we believe the Ozarks are deserving of unique accommodations, well-designed spaces, and more purposeful places.

We also believe it’s important to spend time with friends and colleagues away from the typical day-to-day business setting. Stepping away from the normal, and gaining new perspectives together outside of our element. Building relationships, enjoying life together, and just having a good time. Concept 2021 was a great way to accomplish this.

The Discussion

Each attendee had a unique perspective to bring, and passion for the Ozarks region. Yet our purpose was simple and singular – coming together and discussing the future of travel and tourism in the Ozarks. What is changing? What is missing? What’s underdevelopment? What can we do to impact the Ozarks in a greater way?

We all left our time together feeling reinvigorated, encouraged, and eager to dive into 2022 and beyond. In the Ozarks, there is so much to be inspired by, and Ponca, Arkansas provided a perfect backdrop for this event.

The future is bright for the Ozarks, and I truly believe that those who attended concept 2021 will be among those making the biggest impact.

A big thank you to Buffalo Outdoor Center for the accommodations, Allen Event Group for the wonderful chef-inspired meal, and Isaac Protiva for the great video and photos.

Jeremy Wells

Partner at Longitude°

Jeremy is the author of Future Hospitality and Brand Strategist at Longitude°. As a member of the Education Committee for The Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and a content contributor to Cornell University’s Hospitality Vision and Concept Design graduate program, he is a committed thought leader in hotel branding, concepting, and experience strategy.