Booking.com recently published its eight trends likely to shape the travel industry in 2019. Here, Click. asks industry experts to give their views on these predictions for the year ahead
by Ben Lerwill, Click. Travel Writer
Booking.com: 2019 will see a focus on travellers making choices with extra significance as they look to add more purpose to their trips… and a rise in people’s desire to learn something new whilst away.
Brian Young, Managing Director at small-group adventure travel company G Adventures, says: “More than 65% of our tours now include an experience with our social enterprise projects, allowing travellers first-hand contact with locals and the opportunity to learn to interact with communities in a meaningful way. Young travellers are increasingly looking for more fulfilling and diverse travel experiences. Learning to interact with local people from different backgrounds is an invaluable life skill, and these experiences can push travellers outside of their comfort zones, opening them up to new ways of experiencing travel and growing as an individual.”
Easy does it
Booking.com: In 2019, ‘ease’ will be the gold standard by which tech travel innovations will be judged. Think keyless room-access with your phone, personalised travel tips or a robotic concierge who can communicate with guests in their mother tongue.
Rashesh Jethi, SVP engineering Americas & Innovation Leader at Amadeus, says: “Innovations that allow for ‘ease’ and a seamless traveller experience will certainly play a key role in 2019. But crucially, we are also going to see a rise in personalised customer offering, with several recent tech innovations going mainstream. For example, with advances in Machine Learning and distributed computing, travel providers and suppliers will be able to crunch large datasets in near-real time to provide the traveler with the best possible travel options. We are also going to see a maturing of conversational commerce (e.g. the use of AI chatbots) and ‘Internet of Things’ technology, resulting in a more seamless customer experience at all stages of the trip.”
Watch this space – uncharted territories
Booking.com: We will continue to push the extreme limits of where travel will take us and as space technology advances, even the prospect of space tourism won’t seem such a giant leap anymore.
Brian Berger, Editor-in-Chief at US-based multimedia company SpaceNews.com, says: “We’re certainly closer to companies like Virgin Galactic making good on a long-standing promise to launch the very rich into suborbital space for a few minutes of weightlessness and a heck of a view, but we’re still generations away from space becoming a vacation destination. Virgin Galactic, which started taking ticket reservations years ago, has yet to prove that SpaceShipTwo can reach suborbital space. Blue Origin, on the other hand, has already flown its New Shepard spacecraft to space and back several times and plans to start selling tickets in 2019. They look like a safer bet at this point. Tickets cost about what an average American pays for a house.”
Up close and personal
Booking.com: Generic, comprehensive travel guides of the past will make way for increasingly short-form, hyper relevant and individualised content.
Simon Hill, Associate Mobile Editor at technology news provider Digital Trends, says: “People definitely want to cut to the chase and get travel recommendations that are truly relevant to them, so individualised, bite-sized chunks that can be read easily on a smartphone are ideal. Everyone recognises the benefit of crowd-sourced reviews, but they want opinions from real people on what different hotels, attractions, restaurants, and other points of interest are like. The recommendations need a human voice, but there’s room for smart AI to collate information and combine that with knowledge about your personal preferences, based on past trips and reviews you’ve written, to curate a list of relevant recommendations.”
Booking.com: 2019 will see a more conscious traveller become evident, with even more questions being asked around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations.
Tim Williamson, Customer Director for online travel agency Responsible Travel, says: “The growth in demand for responsible tourism has actually seen our revenue increase by 22% since 2017. Giving proper thought to how and where we travel is vital if we’re to protect and respect our planet, so it’s been great to see. Since 2001, our key focus has been helping to make tourism a more caring industry. It’s encouraging to see that conscious travel is broadening, with the general public becoming more switched on, more informed and making a conscious decision to book a holiday that is not only unique and authentic, but benefits local people and places too.”
Booking.com: The issue of single-use plastic will continue to be a hot topic… accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials.
Jo Hendrickx, Founder of Travel Without Plastic, says: “A recent survey of package holiday travellers showed that 94% of participants were concerned about plastic entering the ocean, therefore hotels eliminating or reducing single-use plastics will not only make a significant positive environmental impact and save money, they will also appeal to a more conscious consumer, particularly those originating from European markets. Honest communication around sustainability activities is key to building a brand that will be the preferred choice of travellers looking to make a positive impact on the destinations they visit.”
The experience curator
Booking.com: Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further. ‘Doing’ will weigh equally with ‘going’, if not more.
Joanna Reeves, Travel Editor at Rough Guides, says: “Experiential travel was a huge trend in 2018, and will continue to be so in 2019 – but with more of a conscious twist. The rise of over-tourism is leading to travellers heading off the beaten track in an attempt to prevent popular places being “loved to death”. More visitors will pick under-the-radar destinations – such as Ethiopia or Kazakhstan – or choose to stay in unfrequented neighbourhoods of iconic cities, supporting local restaurants and shops over heavily touristic spots, and skipping day-trips in favor of authentic tours with local guides. Experiential travel is more than just a buzzword. It’s adapting to the shifting cultural consciousness of travellers, and the trend is here to stay.”
Maximising the micro
Booking.com: Over half of global travellers (53%) report they plan to take more weekend trips. It’s a year that’s predicted to be all about made-to-measure, bite sized travel with more curated travel itineraries.
Daniel Neilson, Travel Writer and Editor, says: “There’s a definite trend in travellers looking to maximize their time away, and shorter trips are a great way of doing that – people can do more of them, for a start, which has its own appeal. We hear a lot about people being overburdened with work and family commitments, so maybe it’s a product of that too – shorter trips mean less time away. It also ties in with the rise in popularity of the micro-adventure, which puts the emphasis more on what you’re doing – going for a moonlight walk, maybe, or wild swimming – rather than where you’re doing it. On a different note, there are far more operators offering creatively tailored short trips away now, so yes, the overall trend is one I can see building even more momentum over 2019.”
Ben Lerwill is an award-winning freelance travel writer based in Oxfordshire, EnglandMore by Ben Lerwill
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