"I Went on a Package Trip for Millennials Who Travel Alone... visiting Morocco with a group-travel company that promised to build 'meaningful friendships' among its youngish clientele."
What makes Flash Pack unusual is its “mission” — “to create one million meaningful friendships” — and a method of execution that it telegraphs with evangelistic zeal: “We obsess over the group dynamics,” its website explains on one page. “We absolutely obsess over the group dynamic,” it states on another. “We’re completely obsessed with it” (“it” being the group dynamic), Flash Pack’s 42-year-old chief executive, Radha Vyas, is quoted as saying on an F.A.Q. page intended to calm nervous vacationers. Another page, titled “How It Works,” opens with the promise that the company “obsesses over the group dynamic, doing everything in our power to ensure you’re comfortable and building friendships within the first 24 hours.”
Weaver asks good questions, like "Who, I wondered as I scrolled through the inviting images on the company’s home page, are the millennial adults drawn to a pricey international vacation for the purpose of befriending strangers?"
She tells us about the chat group the tour business signed them all onto 2 weeks before the trip and how the prospective travelers jumped right into the friend-making enterprise. By the way, do you think the group of 13 skewed toward women? Yes, they were all women. In other places in the NYT, writers/editors will pose as if we can never really know whether the person we're looking at is a woman or a man, but Weaver is allowed to come right out and say the travelers were all women.
We're told: "Each day was crammed with activities, but we were shepherded through them in a state of such perpetual mollycoddling that, increasingly, our travels around Morocco felt like trekking through a gentle dream world."
Actually, it ends up sounding pretty good, so this is actually a more effective promo for the business than that dreadful luxury gyms piece. And this one has a comments section. The most-liked comment is: "Best, most entertaining thing I’ve read in the NYT in weeks/As an introvert, this article was horrifying, yet I couldn’t look away!!"
The second-most-liked comment is something I completely identify with: "I love how all the male commenters are asking why she didn’t just take off to a foreign country by herself, to just see what happens! What it must be like to be male!"
By the way, Flash Pack can unfriend you (or that person you might yourself choose to unfriend):
The company’s terms and conditions grant it “the right to decline any booking at our absolute discretion.” In separate interviews, the founders described a postbooking process whereby a customer-service representative can internally “red flag” an individual who they suspect could pose a risk to the cohesion of the group....