Editor's note: for the most up-to-date insights, you can now read our round-up of the most important travel trends for 2018. You can also download your full 2018 Travel Trends Report:
As a tour operator or activity provider, you notice travel trends every day. Maybe you’re welcoming more young travellers, British tourists, or foodies on your tours at the moment.
However, it’s also beneficial to be prepared for upcoming travel trends. Here are the 2016 travel and tourism trends worth knowing about, as well as how to adapt your tours or activities to take advantage of them.
1. Continued strength of the Chinese market
The Chinese market for tour and activity companies is the fastest growing tourism source in the last decade, having spent a whopping $498 billion in 2014 (source: Financial Times) on outbound travel.
When planning travel, Chinese tourists tend to look for companies with a social media presence on networks such as Weibo, QZone, and Kaixin00. They're also interested in big brand names and prestige, alongside a online mobile-optimised booking experience. They are the biggest smartphone market on the planet, after all!
Here’s our ultimate guide on how to reach the Chinese market, including social media, mobile, and geo-targeting those based in large cities such as Beijing.
2. Travellers wanting to unplug
There’s a rising trend of tourists wanting to unplug and completely sign-off from work on holiday, and the shift from the “always on” traveller has begun. 72% of UK travellers switched off (or as much as possible) in 2013 - this is only increasing further, and will even more so in 2016.
However, this needs to be on a traveller’s own terms. WiFi remains a key requirement for many tourists, which creates a difficult balance to strike for hoteliers and destinations. Saying that, some remote hotels use their lack of WiFi as a selling point. If someone really wants to have a digital detox, it's preferable to completely remove all temptations, after all.
3. Discovering untouched and unique places
Tourists in 2016 will be looking for opportunities to explore lesser-known destinations, especially those that are untouched or unique. It’s going to be a huge year for adventure travel, with many of us wanting to:
- Discover untouched, unique places
- Create unforgettable memories
- Cross something off your bucket list
- Push the boundaries of your comfort zone
- Enjoy closer-to-home experiences
These trends are mentioned in Virtuoso’s 2016 Travel Luxe Report, which we recently wrote about in more detail, alongside how to adapt your tours or activities to benefit from it.
Get your free writing handbook and learn how to write blog posts and tour descriptions that appeal to adventurous travellers.
4. Fewer barriers to travel
With each year, the world gets even more connected. Cheap flights make weekend breaks in foreign destinations easier than ever, and smart translation apps are dissolving language barriers.
2016 will also see an increase in international business travel due to globalisation and a rise in multinational organisations, alongside greater flexibility for travel during career breaks. See more about this trend in a handy infographic by SunSearch Holidays.
5. Millennials are looking for adventure
It's important to align your tours and activities to fit the needs of young travellers, or 20% of the world's tourists. By 2020, this market will be taking 47% more international trips than in 2013, with many young travellers looking for:
- Unique and authentic experiences
- Companies that listen to their feedback
- Opportunities to learn something new
- Word of mouth recommendations
Appeal to their sense of adventure and let millennials be ambassadors for your business. Here’s how to successfully target the millennial travel market, a key part of which is getting your website higher in Google searches.
Here's a free SEO Guide to show you how to take your website higher in Google searches.
6. Staycations, or travelling closer to home
It’s not always about attracting foreign tourists to your company: your next happy customer could be closer to home. Google searches of “staycation” were up 10% year over year from 2011-2014, and the trend of having a holiday closer to home is predicted to continue for 2016.
Here are some of our recommendations of how to market you tours or activities to local people:
- Provide locals with a new experience or insight
- Improve your TripAdvisor rankings
- Share a locals-only discount code or deal
- Create a special mailing list for locals
- For more advice, check out our article on how to benefit from the trend of staycations
For futher reading, here are our top tips for understanding today's traveller, based on the latest industry research and insights:
- They will spend more because it's worth it
- They see travel as an essential part of their wellbeing
- They will check out TripAdvisor before they book
- They are seeking new experiences
- They are super connected - and want you to be too
Access more travel trends in our free and comprehensive 2018 Travel Trends Report: