Tourism trends glistening on the horizon offer up opportunities to sustain your business. It goes beyond responsible and green travel. Sustainability is about tapping into traveller cravings and special interests, and adjusting your products according to new demands and trends. Let’s check out some of the prominent trends forecast for the year ahead.

Family travel grows up

The traditional nuclear family has changed shape forever, also in the way they travel. Single parents travelling with kids is nothing new, but they and their coupled counterparts will defer to the grandparents in bigger numbers this year.

More silver-haired travellers will take the grandchildren on trips because they can better afford it, they have more free time than the parents, and they want to impart what they know to their progeny.

This rich, interesting dynamic requires understanding of what both generations want. As much as the older are in charge, they’ll definitely consult the younger and are keen to accommodate their tastes.

According to Expedia, 95% of family travel decisions is based on activities for the entire family, with 85% of the decision-making driven by children and teenagers.

Get on board this trend because Generation Z is poised to take over from millennials in buying power.

What do the kids want? If they’re anywhere between Gen Y and Z, you can win them over with designer brands, trendy decor and music, food and cookery classes, conveniences like industrial-strength WiFi, video games, in-house cinematic experiences and chill areas, and a wide selection of sports and leisure activities. For little ones, there should be supervised activities including water-, beach-, snow- and other nature-based adventures. Some hotels conduct courses for different age groups in arts and crafts, conservation, stargazing, yoga and zumba, while others hold junior tournaments in golf, table tennis, even treasure hunts.

What the grandparents want is to ensure there’s no time for boredom and more time to bond. In a departure from the usual inter-connected rooms, luxury bunks in shared sleeping quarters will be the new sought-after accommodation. You’ll need to strike a balance for this lucrative demographic to personalise their joint experience while catering for age-appropriate needs: a combination of fun, exciting adventure and sophisticated luxury.

In fact, the all-inclusive home-away-from-home resort style accommodation will be very popular with other groups too this year. Consider packaging your product in tandem with events or festivals, special celebrations or seasons. Build special offers around in-house curated excursions and make access super easy for your guests.

That covers the human side of family travel – on the animal side of it, parents of furbabies will travel with their pets in bigger numbers this year. Comfort animals on planes or trains are becoming more regular so that it barely raises an eyebrow. Tolerance of travelling animals will increase as it pussyfoots into the mainstream. You have the choice of luring pet-centric travellers to your premises or watch them pass it – consider what adjustments you can easily make to accommodate them. This community watches each other’s backs and will spread the word fast that yours is a sympathetic brand worth doing business with.

Female-focused tourism

Social movements sometimes have that icky political stickiness about them, but the simple fact is that women will be making a statement in how they choose to consume and travel.

For some it’s been precipitated by the #MeToo movement and awareness around gender-based violence.

This seems to be the moment that women feel enabled: to travel with other women, support women in business, and interact with local women, almost exclusively.

Personal safety is a factor but it’s mostly about shared experiences with people they can relate better with. Travel brands that recognise this need and preference among women will do well to arrange events or incentivise women’s groups to travel to their destinations this year.

A number of tour companies already specialise in female-focused tourism – do some homework and assess if the requirements are a fit for your brand. Remember, women outnumber men!💃🏻With many things slowly becoming equal, they’ll increasingly flex their financial muscle, creating opportunities for you with wellness products, spiritual healing and relaxing activities topping their travel shopping list. Evergreen favourites like gastronomic experiences will merge with new interests in disconnected travel (mini tech escape) and motion-based travel like cycling and surfing, walking and hiking, to name a few.

Discover the female-owned brands in your area – those should take preference for this market, especially if they’re in the business of employing and empowering local women. Mindful travel for this demographic includes engagement with local women to help each other overcome challenges, grow and transform themselves and their fellow female travellers in the process.

Actually, local is better for many more travellers this year. The ability to immerse oneself in unique local experiences will be seen as an experiential luxury. There’s something very appealing about interacting with the ‘real’ people, learning first-hand about their food, lifestyle, traditions and cultural heritage. With so much perceived ‘fake’ floating around modern society, saturating social and global media, it’s the last thing people want to engage with when they’re travelling. Your insights into your local area are priceless to giving them the taste of authenticity they crave.

Overtourism antidote

Goodbye mass tourism mayhem, hello second cities and shoulder-season travel! Guess what: local residents are sick of having their popular cities and sites overrun by overtourism; and travellers are sick of bumping into each other for a good Instagram shot. The growing popularity of second cities and shoulder season or off-peak travel means less overcrowding, better availability, and tourism spend spread more evenly throughout the year to less-traditional destinations. Travellers will love the cheaper options, different views and experiences, better quality interactions with friendlier, more welcoming locals, and their ability to positively impact local economies. The fortuitous rise of the second city (more Marseille, less Paris or more Osaka, less Tokyo, etc.) secretly empowers all destinations to offer optimal experiences to their visitors, when they visit.

If you’re based in a second city or your destination has potentially to offer meaningful experiences during the less popular seasons, connect with local brands and services to add value to your base offering. See how you can better accommodate women-only groups, pet-centric travellers, and solo travellers, all forecast to travel in greater numbers this year. Incorporate the prevailing wellness, slow tourism and gastronomic trends and market your destination as a hub with opportunities in the vicinity to explore. Facilitate access to those less crowded, interesting sites travellers wouldn’t otherwise know about. The more under-explored, the better.

Travelling sustainably

What’s your sustainability score? Carbon footprints and environmental impact should be firmly on your agenda by now. The Greta effect on an entire (influential) generation has us all minding our operations and practices. Travellers will become increasingly mindful of reducing their footprint, preserving indigenous culture and supporting local communities.

Wherever you can, factor in green design and carbon off-setting features for those discerning luxury travellers who believe in paying extra to do the right thing.

Many hotels are answering the call to migrate from single-use plastics towards recyclable materials, renewable energy and zero waste.

Locally-sourced produce, artwork and decor, services and staff are first prize.

These travellers want to be involved in conservation and know that some of their tourism spend will be invested in local youth training or local upliftment projects. Communicate your local programmes and investments clearly and proudly as part of your brand.

No travel brand can afford to ignore or downplay the significance of sustainability as it gradually becomes mainstream, with greater demand. Interest will prevail in tech-disconnected experiences and niches like vegetarian and vegan hotels, but these form part of a greater movement among travellers driven to maintain their lifestyle, and motivated by concern for the destinations they visit and the health of the planet. Give them the bespoke experiences they want and secure our path to sustainable and sustained tourism.

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