Are you planning a trip in 2017? According to hospitality experts like JWU professor Eldad Boker, Ed.D, there are several new travel trends to be on the lookout for this year. For starters, old destinations will become popular again and travelers will become more price-conscious. These trends, among others, will have a profound impact on the way the hospitality industry operates and dictate how people go about planning their trips around the globe.
If you are planning to travel this year, here are seven trends you should be aware of:
1. Travelers will transition into the sharing economy.
These days, travelers are looking to spend more of their hard-earned time and money on cultivating new experiences. This means giving up the idea of “traditional ownership.” Instead of bringing along their own cars for the week, travelers are relying on ride sharing companies such as Uber or Lyft to get from place to place. Or, they’re renting vehicles through companies like Zipcar — where you can rent a shared car for a certain period of time. Instead of paying to stay in luxury hotels or in fancy resorts, travelers are branching out and renting rooms through companies like Airbnb. These days, it seems as though travelers are more concerned with adventurous experience and less concerned with fancy resort amenities. In 2017, experience will greatly outweigh comfort and luxury. Instead, travelers will be looking for opportunities to immerse themselves in new cultures.
2. Everything is online.
Younger travelers — and everyone else — are now accustomed to doing things online. When it comes to planning a trip, travelers are booking hotel rooms, resort stays, flights and activities online. Now, airlines give you the option to check-in for your flight online, too. This is a challenge that hospitality companies need to give in to. In order to keep up with other companies, hotel chains and airlines have to offer online resources that aid travelers in their search for accommodations and flights. Almost everyone is hooked to their cell phones, so companies need to make sure their sites are mobile-friendly and easily used from any location.
Also, with the constant need for online access, hotels, airports and restaurants — if they haven’t already — will need to make sure they’re fully equipped with wireless access this year. Across the globe, travel hubs like bus stations and airports are changing to make sure people can access their internet wherever they need. Charging stations are popping up in public places and Wi-Fi is even being offered for free in flight with some airlines.
3. Smaller is getting bigger.
This goes back to point number one. This year, the number of travelers looking to stay in small, family-owned properties is on the rise. Staying within the walls of a family home or hostel allows travelers to immerse themselves in the true culture of their destination that they might not find if they stayed in a hotel. Often, the home’s caretaker or owner can serve as a great tour guide and show travelers aspects of the place that they might not get from the staff at a resort. According to experts, people will pay more money to get a unique experience that they might not find elsewhere. And travelers, like we mentioned in point number one, are growing accustomed to sharing spaces. In 2017, we expect to see some travelers jetting off on small, out-of-the-way excursions instead of large, resort-driven getaways.
4. Travelers are rediscovering old destinations.
Over the last year, travelers have started branching out when choosing their trip destinations. According to Boker, some of the countries that are expected to explode with tourists in 2017 are long-lost destinations like Cuba, Rwanda, Bulgaria and Slovenia.
Experts say travel to Cuba has increased over the last year because of the renewed relationship between the country and the US. In 2016, President Barack Obama traveled to Cuba — the first sitting US president to do so in decades — and signed an agreement to allow commercial flights between the two countries. Places like Rwanda and Bulgaria are becoming tourist hotspots, too.
According to experts, Rwanda — a destination once dulled by a tragic history — is now flourishing and has become a popular destination for those looking to explore a mountainous region. Rwanda is currently popular for its primate tracking explorations, hiking trails, scenery, and diverse culture. In Bulgaria, travel is cheap and culture is rich. Therefore, it is a gateway to other destinations across southeastern Europe.
Another country that is becoming a popular tourist spot is Slovenia. According to Boker, travel here has increased in the past few months due, in part, to First Lady Melania Trump’s prominence in the media. Since the November 2016 election, travel rates to Trump’s native country have skyrocketed.
5. Wellness travel is exploding.
This is a trend that is very common among young people. These days, it seems as though people are more focused on eating good food and doing physical activities while on vacation. The term “wellness travel” speaks to the types of things people are doing on their trips. From day spas to ocean-side yoga, wellness travel trips are contributing to the person’s well being, whether through adrenaline-pumping happiness or spiritual relaxation.
6. Travelers are becoming more socially-conscious.
Many of the people packing their bags for the next big trip are from the younger millennial generation. These travelers are typically more plugged in to society and are in tune with what’s happening in the world. These types of travelers are more hesitant to go to certain destinations due to differing opinions on moral values, political decisions, etc. For example, a young girl in her twenties might be swayed away from traveling to a specific country due to the way women are treated in that specific culture. Therefore, we see travel rates fluctuating in different parts of the world.
7. Price matters more now than ever.
Typically, the younger generation doesn’t have much money to spend. Therefore, according Boker, about 60-percent of all US travelers are becoming price-driven. Young people are looking at prices more carefully and are starting to consider how much it is costing them to get from place to place. Because of this, brand loyalty has decreased too. People are no longer worried about which airline they fly or what chain of hotel they stay at — for the most part, they’re scouting out the best deal.
Because travelers are becoming more price-savvy, companies are competing to offer cheaper services. Low-cost airlines like Spirit Air and EasyJet are now coming face-to-face with legacy airlines like American Airlines in order to offer a cheaper flight with less amenities to travelers who are looking to save on cost. This changes the dynamic of travel too, because customers are straying away from the notion of high-class amenities. Instead, they’re skipping out on comfort to save some money.
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