It feels like we were just wishing colleagues and business contacts pleasantries and tidings of the new year, and here we are, well into entering the third month of 2016!
Last year, we touched base on luxury travel trends to look out for. The beauty of having several independent organisations conducting their own trend research is that it opens us to many possibilities, and at the same time look for recurring travel tendencies.
Today, we’ll discuss five travel trends that we can see in the travel industry. These trends are predominantly for luxury travellers but also transcends to all travellers in general.
1. The Rise of “Bleisure” Travel
Thanks to technology and businesses being mobile these days, it is now possible to combine Business and Leisure, or “Bleisure” for short. Let’s admit, no matter how hedonistic we think we are, it always feels great to be productive and get the feeling of multi-tasking.
This travel style has been getting more and more popular over the last five years. Frequent travellers want to make more out of a business trip that usually has them staying in a city for 24-48 hours. They also want to explore beyond their hotel and conference rooms.
Some travellers take spouses, partners or families with them on said business trips (paying for their own transportation and added costs), and spend an extra day or two exploring the city.
Because of this rising travel inclination, some companies have established proper policies in line with ‘Bleisures’. For instance, certain organisations allow employees to add on, as a maximum, half the number of additional leave days of the combined official working days. (e.g out of your 4 working days, you can add up to 2 additional extra days of leave).
Cities that are projected to have an influx of business visitors (who may potentially be ‘Bleisure’ travellers), are India, China, Colombia, Mexico, Singapore and Australia.
2. Mobile Travel
While digital detoxes seem to be the way of wellness travel, travellers overall require mobile convenience when travelling. This means that travellers need to be able to book, amend or cancel their travel plans while on the go. Booking sites (be it flights, hotels, activities) must be mobile-friendly and most importantly, have the capacity to enable travellers to easily change their booking themselves through handheld devices. The last thing one would want to see when trying to change their booking online are the words, “Please contact our service centre to change your booking.”
Staying connected while travelling is not just limited to keeping in touch with friends/ family on social media, but also having complete control of your travel plans whenever and wherever you are.
Hotels and resorts are also better off ensuring that their location is wi-fi enabled and should inform guests when there are service issues due to location.
3. Experiential Travel Marketing
Last year, it has been revealed that luxury travellers seek authentic experiences in their travels. Luxury travellers are seeking more than just thread counts and luxurious surroundings.
This trend saw a surge in luxury hotels offering activities and experiences specifically designed for their guests and usually done within the compound of the hotel / resort , or guests are accompanies by the concierge team.
This love for unique experience when travelling is not just limited to luxury travellers, but in consumers in general. So when it comes to marketing, companies know to bring a taste or a teaser of that experience to potential customers in order to draw them in.
Travel market fairs like World Travel Market, are no stranger to this. Tourism booths bring in tastes, sounds, music, and vibes of their countries for buyers to experience their product.
Experiential travel marketing can also be seen outside of travel fairs. Shangri-la Hotels are just the first of many private companies to use virtual reality as a sales tool.
4. Seamless Experience
All travellers want a smooth overall travel experience – from choosing and narrowing options, to booking, departing, ammending unforseen circumstances while travelling, and even following up on necessary issues / documents after travel.
In the last 5-10 years, more and more travellers have opted to book their travels online, foregoing their local travel agents. And while this have allowed travellers to be their own ‘travel agents’, they realise that they really are on their own when booking travel themselves. Now, these travellers are realising the seamless convenience of planning and booking everything with just one contact.
Thus, we can see online travel agents, boutique and luxury travel agents / concierges still thrive within the age of digital travel.
This demand for seamless experience also extends to the trend mentioned above, of travellers seeking unique experiences in their travels. Hotels brands and resorts are starting to fill up their activities programme with their own customised guest experience (think InterContinental Hotels Insider Experience Program) as a response to the demand of a seamless experience. Having the activities done and booked in the hotel itself means there are no third parties involved, and the entire travel experience is a one-touch solution.
5. The “Last Chance to See It” Travel
If you take a peek into a seasoned traveller’s bucket list, there’s a high chance you won’t see the usual “Go bungee jumping” kind of personal list. You will most likely see a list of places to see and visit before they’re gone.
For instance, there’s more reason to visit the Maldives. Aside from being a popular resort and honeymoon destination, it is also the lowest-lying country on earth. If sea levels continue to rise, the stunning island nation could be completely engulfed in water in one hundred years.
2016 will also see a surge of visitors to Iceland or Norway (any country where you can see the Aurora Borealis) as space physicists surmise that this year may be our last chance to see the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights take place on an 11-year cycle and according to experts, we are at the downward leg of the cycle. This means that the next time we may be able to see the Northern Lights at its peak could be around 2024 to 2026.
Cuba is also one of the few remaining cities in the world where one can feel that they have time-travelled to the 1950’s. And since the United States have slightly eased travel bans for its citizens to visit Cuba, more people have been wanting to visit the country before it gets transformed due to a sudden rush of tourism.