Customers always find a way to surprise tour and activity providers with their consumer behavior and suggestions of how to better meet their travel needs. But what surprises will 2017 see for the tourism industry? And which travel trends should we keep an eye on?
Here's our round-up of some of the most interesting and unexpected travel trends for this year. Some are mentioned in our popular Travel Trends Report 2017, while others are based on interesting research from Booking.com, Euromonitor International, and WTM London 2016. We're confident that all of the insights will help you to get ahead and stay ahead.
1. Hassle-free travel, without the luggage
In our fast-paced world, traveling is becoming accessible to more people than ever before. And in turn, carrying our traditional suitcase seems a bit... banal.
The modern traveler – and especially the millennial traveler – is increasingly considering new and hassle-free options for their luggage. These include pay-as-you-go services, says Euromonitor, as an easier (and why not more fun?) alternative to taking your usual belongings.
An example of this from the fast-growing sharing economy is how some accommodation providers and startups are now providing services like clothing rental or the chance to buy at the hotel.
2. Digital nomadism
A rising phenomenon in Europe that first gained traction in the US, digital nomads are a group of travelers characterized by their passion for travel, new discoveries, and constantly seeking new opportunities for good work-life balance.
These "location independent" people, fuelled by the exponential growth of the startup mentality, tend to be entrepreneurs with an online business or a freelance job in sectors such as ICT or marketing. What's for sure, they're part of a new generation shaping a new consumer tribe.
Minimalists in what they pack when they travel (well, besides their laptop), digital nomads love adventures and adrenaline.To try and reach this growing number of travelers, some hotels, airlines and tour operators are using the microadventure business model.
Closely related to the rise of digital nomadism is another phenomenon growing in the sharing economy: co-living spaces. Considering the rise of short-term rentals offered by accommodation providers such as Airbnb and also co-working spaces, this is no surprise. It's the right time for business models and offerings that meet the open-minded traveler's desire to share, seek new experiences, and live and work flexibly.
Digital nomads are a market niche that has not yet been fully explored, and they tend to respond well to new, original and innovative accommodation, transport and leisure solutions in-destination.
Don't forget: as digital natives, they're very likely to share their experience online too, spreading (hopefully) valuable word-of-mouth advertising online.
- Read: 9 ways to generate more word-of-mouth for your tours and activities
- Read: 6 surefire ways to be more creative as a tourism pro
Una foto pubblicata da ReStation (@restationco) in data:
3. Supersonic travel boom
Technology is impacting every aspect of travel and tourism, and transport solutions are innovating at high speed. We're not talking about teletransportation just yet, but the opening of supersonic travels.
Not dissuaded by the failed Concorde in Paris in 2000, big players are starting to think about how to open new commercial routes that will halve the time of the journey and make new destinations accessible.
An example? Boomsupersonic, a company aiming to make supersonic travels accessible to everyone. We're questioning the potential impact of this, both from a social point of view (which market would actually be able to afford it?) and from an environmental and economic perspective, considering the number of trips taken yearly and the pollution as a result.
Tecnhology impacts not only transportation, but also tourism marketing strategies. Tour operators, travel agencies and tourism boards are starting to use different and innovative ways to combine offline and online and meet the needs of digital innovation.
We're not talking exclusively about full social media campaigns in destination marketing, but also new solutions like VR (Virtual Reality) to offer a more immersive and engaging booking experience. Even Chatbots are becoming quite popular, such as those already in use by Booking.com, Kayak and Expedia to assist customers in the booking process.
4. We never have time, do we?
Time is our most precious resource. This is especially the case for travelers coming from Europe, the US and Russia, who rank time over financial stability and work satisfaction.
The western (and westernized) world is living at an ever-faster rhythm, and our journeys can be a precious moment of pause, to dedicate to our family or ourselves. This matches the trending emphasis on wellness and well-being when we travel, as well as the desire to rediscover ourselves and a healthy way of living.
Booking.com defines this type of traveler as the "Zen Traveler", sharing how 2 in 5 are interested in travel experiences related to health and wellbeing, adding that 48% use time on holiday to "meditate and make better decisions in life".
Africa seems to be the leading destination to seek this, preferred for safaris followed by meditation sessions, yoga and spa services. This mix of "mindfulness & wilderness" attracts those who are passionate about local experiences and wish to get back to a raw, minimal way of life – at least while on holiday.
To reach travelers wanting to boost their wellbeing in-destination, your company's offering needs to emphasize health, community, and the environment.
- Read: What you need to know about the health and wellness travel trend [Trend Report]
- Spotlight: Meet Chantel, founder of the ecotourism company Natural Greece
5. Women power
In 2014, Booking.com revealed how 72% of American women traveling solo book three or more trips a year. In turn, there's been a 230% increase in the number of businesses serving the solo female travel market in 2016.
These solo women travelers are looking for unique and memorable experiences, not the stereotypical five-star spa experiences. We're talking about women with character who have no fear in traveling alone. They're open-minded towards new activities and adventures, such as backpacking all over South America.
If you want to consider solo women travelers as your market niche, don't forget to focus on these three fundamental aspects: authenticity, safety and sharing.
The importance of authenticity is often talked about, but we all want to feel safe when we travel too. Lastly, don't forget the importance of sharing. You could offer solutions that let women share their experience with other solo travelers, such as group activities, meetups, social media groups, or add-ons such as a video recording of the experience that they can then share online.
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Curious to know which trends will dominate 2018? Our Travel Trends Report is packed with updates and suggestions for tourism pros like you.