Comment: The shape of trends to come
Travellers are coming of age
This year, we shall see significant changes to how, why and where people holiday. Let’s get an insight on the shape of things to come.
Maximising the micro trip
2019 will be the year of ‘bite sized travel’ – squeezing in more curated travel itineraries into shorter time frames. Thanks to improvements in flight routes, transport, cheap flights, on-demand car rentals and accommodation, micro trips will become increasingly more popular and varied. The chance to stay in unique and remarkable types of accommodation during short getaways will also reportedly become trendier.
2019 is the year of the conscious traveler; issues from human rights and equality, to working conditions and environment issues influence people’s decisions about potential destinations. Almost half of travellers told Booking.com that they feel social issues are of significant importance when choosing where to go. Meanwhile, more than half choose not to go to a destination if they feel it will negatively impact the people who live there. Safety, regardless of gender or ethnicity, are also of great importance to explorers. Destinations and organisations will increasingly step up their support for women travelling alone.
Credit card debt, unwanted presents and over-the-top marketing from retailers will drive more people out of the country for Christmas 2019. This year, family trips over the festive season have doubled and 29% are solo travellers. In a real break from tradition, holidaymakers are choosing trendy destinations in Middle East, India, Cambodia and Central America, instead of a white Christmas.
Travel will become a tangible way to empower women in developing countries. With 2018 all about the ‘me too’ movement, travellers will look for opportunities to make a real difference. More women will travel to developing countries to support local women, with the launch of women’s only expeditions to experience life in select destinations.
Easy does it
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, speech recognition – these are the innovations that will slowly take over and simplify the way we holiday in 2019. As Booking.com says, think keyless room-access with your phone, personalised travel tips or a robotic concierge who can communicate with guests in their mother tongue. Travellers are reportedly now more enthusiastic about real-time luggage tracking through a mobile app and having a single app for all their planning, booking and travel needs (57%) than the prospect of using self-driving transportation in their destination (40%). 2019 will also see more tech developed for use pre-trip at research stage. Almost a third (31%) of global travellers admit to liking the idea of a ‘virtual travel agent’ in their home, and one in five want to see technology, such as augmented reality, helping to familiarise themselves with a destination before they arrive.
Up close and personal
This year is the year to seriously look at how your travel information is consumed and used. A third of travellers (34%) admit to wanting someone or something to do the hard work for them, and make travel recommendations. Meanwhile, around 41% want travel brands to use technologies such as artificial intelligence to make travel suggestions based on past travel experience. Over half (52%) say they would be excited to use a digital tour guide, bringing them a truly bespoke experience, so next year is definitely a time to watch out for companies using better ways to curate and deliver picture-perfect holidays at the click of a mouse button.
NASA will start constructing its Lunar Space Station in 2019 (launching in 2022), with considerable investment in orbital spaceflight in 2019. Four in 10 travellers admit to being excited about the prospect of space travel in the future and are open to considering the experience themselves (38%). Until space travel becomes a reality (2019 isn’t the year for that, just yet), people will still be wanting to explore uncharted territories here on Earth in the coming year. For example, 60% of travellers say they want to stay in an accommodation under the sea.
Passports become cookbooks
It is no longer enough to buy a cookbook. Travellers want to learn local ingredients and assemble it all in the kitchen of a local to be replicated back home to dinner party guests. Sri Lanka is tipped to be the hottest place for a food tour in 2019 – quite literally with its spicy curries, fresh seafood and sweet desserts on offer.
Plastic not-so fantastic
A staggering 86% of global travellers said they would be willing to spend time to offset the environmental impact of their stay, with over 37% willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction. Expect to see a number of new travel start-ups and individual enterprises committed to eco-friendly travel come to the forefront in 2019, with technology at the core of their solutions.
About the Author: With more than 28 years of hospitality experience globally, Naim Maadad is the founding CEO of Gates Hospitality, which owns and operates hospitality concepts including Ultra Brasserie, The Black Lion Public House & Dining, Bistro des Arts, Reform Social & Grill, Publique, and Folly by Nick & Scott. It also has ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay. Email: Naim@gateshospitality.com