Sharing a column our CEO wrote today:
Thanksgiving is here. It’s just a matter of time before we usher in a new year. So what does 2015 hold for travel and tourism? Here are ten trends that I believe will influence travel and tourism next year.
- Unplugged travel: Lonely Planet recently released a number of predictions on the future of travel. They believe the pressures of modern life will cause growth in ‘unplugged travel’. People will seek places that deliberately have no emails or mobile device access, so that ‘guests can immerse themselves in their destination and truly forget about work and everyday life.’
- Crowded Planes: The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) forecasts that 6.6 billion passengers will fly worldwide by 2032, growing an average of 4.4% annually from 2014 onward. Bottom line: Crowded planes, especially on popular routes.
- Growth in Culinary Travel: It’s been a trend for awhile but research validates that food and beverage activities do influence travel decisions. Mandala Research surveyed Americans in 2013 and found that three quarters of all leisure travelers (131 million people) can be classified as culinary travelers, having participated in culinary activities within the past three years. Expect more interest in culinary travel and new products to tap into this travel trend, like the New Mexico Breakfast Burrito Byway or the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail.
- Sleeping will cost you more: Hotel rates and occupancy levels will be higher due to demand and a stronger economy, especially in large cities and at upscale hotels. Experts advise doing your homework to find deals and booking early. Another option is to gamble on last minute deals through online lodging websites.
- Go Local: The rapid rise of the ‘sharing economy’ through venues like Airbnb.com, EatWith.com, Uber and other grass roots based travel providers will proliferate in the coming year(s).
- Meetings Coming On Strong: The meetings and convention industry will experience continued growth in 2015. According to American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast, meetings will play a critical role in growing the tourism economy next year.
- Going mobile: Almost 25% of all travel bookings in the US will be done via smartphones in 2015. Mobile friendly travel apps and the growth in virtually everything being done on mobile devices have given rise to this trend. It’s not going to slow down either.
- Blurred Lines: Top of the Lonely Planet list of trends is that travel will become ‘fully integrated into our lives as opposed to a special event.’ This is encouraging as travel enriches in ways that no other activity can. Travelers are blending their interests when traveling. Trips that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/health will see growth in 2015.
- More bang for the buck: Leisure travelers want value and quality. This doesn’t always mean rock bottom pricing, but other aspects such as unique location, quality service, new amenities and convenience are important.
- Sustainability. Sustainability in travel has been around for years, but consumers are driving companies and destinations to embrace more earth friendly practices. Hotels are not only reducing water and chemical use but also employing other sustainable practices including LED lighting and in-room recycling programs. Restaurants are sourcing local ingredients and products. Rental car companies offer more hybrid vehicles.
So those are my top ten travel trends to watch in 2015. Wherever you travel, enjoy the journey and cherish the memories.