Monday, March 28, 2011

Emerging Travel Trends

Adventure Travel News: As the thawing of the consumer travel freeze continues, several trends will be key in marketing to travelers. Here are a few areas we’re monitoring for the second quarter of 2011.

Multigenerational travel has increasingly popped up on our radar over the past few years and is an especially hot topic on consumer news and travel sites these days. Virtuoso reports that trips of this nature are their top trend currently and have tripled in the past two years, while American Express Travel also includes it as one of their five major trends for 2011, noting that cruises and upscale all-inclusive vacations are popular in this expanding category.

While the industry is seeing price sensitivity with a focus on value all across the market, the biggest shift may have occurred in luxury travelers. According to Virtuoso’s 2011 Luxe Report, this group cites “authentic experiences in new destinations” as their top motivation for traveling this year, above R&R and socializing. The same report reveals that value for money paid (79%) and once-in-a-lifetime experiences (57%) are top factors in choosing destinations, and 33.2% of Virtuoso agents named active and adventure travel among the top five biggest trends of 2011.

Of the ten trends named by PhoCusWright in the 2011 Truth, Myth and Pith report, three we find most salient centered around smart technologies and the game-changing impact they’re having on the travel industry. The first is that mobile is not actually a trend, but now part of the fabric of the consumer landscape. Expedia has seen mobile bookings rise by 5 times in 2010; Kayak now has more people developing for mobile than for the web; mobile payments are expected to become a reality this year.

The second trend taking place is suppliers are getting smart about smart technologies. As mobile 1.0 gives way to 2.0, we’ll move away from a framework of consumers simply accessing what they need in the moment (reservation numbers, contact information) to a more sophisticated model that considers what they want while they’re on the road. Think interactivity

Last but not at all least is that tablet wars will spark a travel revolution as their popularity rises and competition between manufacturers increases. Immersive and entertainment-oriented, expect them to travel with your consumers and be ready to connect with them via their tablets throughout the entire process, from trip research to post-trip feedback and content.

“These smart technology trends in web, mobile, and tablets are important and exciting to follow, but likely leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Don’t let the complexities of these new trends and technologies hold you back from moving forward,” adds Reckers of ATTA. “A good first step is to understand your current and potential customer base and where those customers will most likely access your products and services. Whether they’re finding you through a mobile device, the concierge at the local hotel, or while booking a cruise online, each of these scenarios require a different game plan.”

“Transforcations” – According to the WSJ, this increasingly popular type of travel helps people achieve goals, learn and experience new things, push beyond their limits. These transformative vacations could include adventure travel, boot camp type experiences, volunteer travel or cultural travel with a focus on education.

Experiential travel – American Express Travel predicts that river cruising sales will rise as people look for all-inclusive travel that emphasizes a deeper look at local culture and history, along with a more intimate experience, as well as ‘Expert-cation’ itineraries crafted around specific interests (think food, sports, yoga, history) or even more niche travel like knitting cruises or salsa dancing classes. They emphasize travelers’ desire for exclusive tours and viewings, and hands-on, unique experiences.

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