Airport hosts postcard exhibition

Like vinyl records, Polaroid cameras and Nokia 3310s before them, holiday postcards are experiencing something of a renaissance thanks to enthusiastic Millennials, according to new research.

Monday, 5th June 2017, 3:42 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:05 am
Gatwick hosts postcard exhibition
Gatwick hosts postcard exhibition

A study by Gatwick Airport has found that the number of Britons sending postcards from their holidays has more than halved (down 60 per cent) over the last 20 years, largely due to the rise of email and social media.

However, rather than dwindling to extinction, this traditional practice continues to be embraced by 18-34 year-olds, who are 55 per cent more likely to send postcards than their elders.

Over a third (38 per cent) of Millennials said they had sent a postcard from their last holiday, compared to only 24 per cent of those aged 35 and over.

Despite this minor renaissance, the postcard remains in perilous decline: only around a quarter (28 per cent) of those surveyed had sent a postcard when they were last on holiday, mailing an average of three per trip.

In 1997, however, 70 per cent said they had penned postcards, sending an average of four on each holiday.

The decline is largely due to the rise in popularity of social media, with half of all Brits saying they consider posting an image on social media to be a form of modern-day postcard, and 47 per cent preferring to use social media because it’s easier than sending a postcard.

Gatwick Airport is currently honouring the lost art of sending postcards by opening an exhibition of more than 200 postcards stretching back more than 70 years.

Curated by Tom Jackson, creator of popular Twitter feed ‘Postcard From The Past’ (@PastPostcard), the display (open until June 23) will showcase physical postcards from his collection for the very first time. Each is presented with a snippet from the writers’ original message, which helps turn ordinary cards into weird, wonderful and entertaining snapshots of people’s lives and holidays.

Andrew Pule, Terminal Operations Manager at Gatwick Airport, said: “As the summer holiday season kicks off, we wanted to create an experience within the airport that conjures up happy holiday memories from years gone by. The rise of social media means less Brits are sharing their holiday experiences on the back of a card but this exhibition, featuring postcards from as far afield as Hong Kong, Tianjin, Cape Town, Barbados and Vancouver, reminds Gatwick passengers travelling to these destinations and others how people communicated with home back in a very different era.”

Tom Jackson said: “Postcards are wonderfully evocative. They have the ability to transport someone back to a time and place they hold dear and they still seem to be putting smiles on the faces of the younger generation. It’s fantastic to team up with Gatwick to offer passengers heading off on holiday the chance to share in the fascinating adventures and memories of holidays from the past.”

Further findings from Gatwick’s research shed more light on how the rise of social media has led to the decline of postcards. More than half (52 per cent) of the holidaymakers quizzed said they posted on Facebook when last on holiday, sharing an average of seven photos each (compared to only 28 per cent who sent a postcard). WhatsApp is the second most popular social channel, with a third (34 per cent) of holidaymaking Brits using it, sharing an average of 6 photos each.

The sentiment amongst Brits is that they would be pleased to see postcards becoming a holiday staple again, with two fifths (41 per cent) claiming they miss receiving postcards from friends and family. Meanwhile, two thirds (65 per cent) claim receiving a postcard makes them smile and half (53 per cent) say it makes them feel nostalgic. Many remain disappointed, however, with nearly one in two (48 per cent) holidaymakers saying they haven’t received a postcard in the last two years, and one in ten (10 per cent) claiming to have never received a postcard at all.