Travellers will seek out transformative, bespoke experiences with a beneficent social and environmental impact.
Considering what motivates, interests and drives the traveller’s conscience, this year’s better travel trend signals a clear shift toward mindfulness. With something for everyone on our travel hit parade, we invite you to take your pick and craft the personalised experiences your clients will be looking for.
It starts and ends with Sustainability
The discourse around climate change and its impact on the environment is increasing and growing louder. Where you stand on the subject hardly even matters, given the worldwide concern for the well-being of the planet and its natural resources. What’s pertinent to travellers in regular life will influence their travel decisions. Travel brands that echo their values with authenticity and integrity will rate highly.
Green tourism is a golden goose, and these are the golden eggs that will bathe your brand messaging and offerings in the glow of sustainability:
- Sensitivity to local communities
- Mindfulness of the impact of tourism on local economies and residents
- The burden of overtourism in many popular cities and tourist sites
- The desire to do things differently, better.
Luxury travellers will drive the 2020 movement towards more mindful experiences. The attitude that ‘We can afford to be wasteful’ will give way to ‘We can afford to be zero-wasteful’ as it becomes a high-end travel standard. Paying extra for a proactive approach to sustainable travel equates bragging rights as much as it assuages guilt.
Positive impact travel
For people who want to travel as they live: to leave zero waste and low carbon footprint behind. As more travellers consider alternatives to air travel or opt for fewer and shorter flights to destinations closer to home, self-driving, trains and other modes of transport with a lower environmental impact will gain popularity. Empower them with carbon neutral experiences, to give back to the environment and support the local economy by focusing on locally-procured services, products, and accommodation with an appetite for sustainability.
For people who don’t enjoy jostling for space and photo opps at destinations: offer them off-beaten-track, under-explored experiences, including second city destinations, and off-peak or shoulder season travel. They’ll happily experience something new, even different weather conditions, especially if it lowers costs. They understand that tourism saturation at popular sites negatively impact the quality of their own experience. A less crowded destination also improves their chances of more authentic local interactions. Incorporate exclusive, private learning opportunities into your tours to win them over.
For people who have their hearts set on slower modes of travel: give them more time to immerse themselves in a destination, with trains or boats providing a slightly different, more comfortable experience and less post-trip burn-out. A new motion-based niche is rearing its head, highlighting the popularity of cycling or biking, hiking or walking tours, surfing, boating or yachting, RV and road tripping, all representing reduced environmental impact. Develop opportunities for leisurely, low impact exploration that focus the traveller on the journey itself and enable them to enjoy the scenery, terrain and waterways en route.
For travellers suffering from digital fatigue: give them tour products that take them offline and off-grid, that encourage them to unplug their devices and live in the present. They’ll be looking to immerse themselves in nature for a while and avoid the nagging blue light from their smart device. According to Fashion Magazine, nature will be calling hard from places like Oman, Borneo and Greenland, but anywhere pristine and rural will tick the right boxes. Round the escapist experience off with some pampering and feel-good activities.
Not all Generations were born equal
All traveller types want to be on the move, but moving up in their influence on travel trends, is Generation Z. Conde Nast Traveller forecasts that they will make up 40% of consumer spending this year. Their parents consult them on travel choices and, as young as they are, they know what they want and don’t want. From Baby boomers to Millennials, Gen’s X,Y and Z, there’s plenty of demand from all corners to all corners.
Millennials will be short on time this year – technology will help you facilitate the purchasing journey and help them win back some time. They’ll prefer micro-cations or short tours closer to home that are easy to search and book online. Jam as many of their favourite activities in one destination or string together multiple destinations into a single trip. Varied, personalised experiences will go down a treat, like combining culture with adventure or wellness activities with Instagrammable sites, in inclusive packages that shout convenience.
Gen Y and Z Designer trips
If it’s sparkly and trendy, they’ll want to go there and do that. You can lure this young, savvy demographic with products that speak their language: designer decor, trendy food and beverage brands; the latest, hottest music (mixed by big name DJs); celebrity chefs and other entertainers; lightening-fast WiFi, gaming and mobile apps for everything. That extends to accommodation and activities. Some cruise companies have taken to this concept like fish to water, offering age-specific, tailored experiences. Jump on that bandwagon, complete with #FOMO-inspiring travel content.
Family roots and bonding
Grandparents will take their grandkids on more trips this year, keen to teach the younger generation what they know about the world. They may have more disposal income and free time than the parents; so they’ll leave behind mom and dad for some alone time or the single parent for some me-time. Personalise their experiences around age-appropriate activities, shared accommodation and logistical convenience.
Ancestry travel will be popular too as curiosity about family origins grows and DNA profiling makes it easier to trace roots. Connecting across national borders to find kinship is something that families will be keen to explore and bond over.
Movements with Momentum
From #MeToo to wellness, social issues and lifestyle movements are spilling over into travel, breeding lucrative niches for travel brands that can craft products to match the demand. The fact that those demands are diverse and very specific, lends itself to product diversity and a bigger market to ply your wares in.
No longer just for single people, even couples with different vacation times and travel preferences will be travelling solo this year. It’s time to quit punishing solo travellers with single supplements if it means you can grow your share of this growing travel demographic. Seek out rooms or cabins priced-for-one to add to your solo-friendly itineraries, with the safety features and end-to-end service finishes they need.
There’s a female empowerment travel movement gaining momentum for women and by women. Women-only groups want to travel together or share experiences with other women in-destination. Safety is a concern but so are relatability and support. They prefer tours that incorporate female-owned tourism products and interactions with local women. There are currently just a few women-only specialist travel brands, which presents an opportunity; so why not research how to incorporate this niche into your offerings?
Food just got edgier – in some places, going into underground supper clubs – but generally it’s about trendy food in trendy places, cooked by trendy chefs. No demographic is immune to the charms of food porn (have you seen the teens cooking sophisticated dishes on TV?) and all cuisines have a place at the table. From artsy fusions to pairings down to food science adding curiosity, everyone wants to be first to taste and learn to cook the next big thing in gastronomy. Foodie experiences span different locations, even modes of transport; so experiment with different flavours!
Furbabies on board
Last but not least on our hit parade: people who won’t travel without their pets. Pet travel will be growling for more attention this year. Research indicates that a number of establishments already answer the demand, with more stakeholders sniffing at the prospect. Take stock of the pet-friendly suppliers that can help you create some animal-friendly tours with bite.
Go Bespoke, for tourism’s sake
When we talk about sustainability, it’s not only about the environment. Sustaining the business of tourism requires that all markets get the bespoke experiences they want. After all, travel is better when the personal connection is strong and clients can choose experiences that are relevant to them, with a clear conscience.