The travel industry has changed dramatically in the last decade. Gone are the days of walking into your local AAA or travel agency to plan your vacation. Most of the travel agencies are out of business or heading that way quickly. Even my 70 year old mother uses the internet to book her flights and lodging. Why spend your Saturday afternoon sitting in a travel agencies office paying the services to someone that is doing the same job you could be doing from home, right?
Fast forward to the current year. The travel industry is going through some pretty big changes for 2018.
One of the biggest things this year is the expanding market for Experience Travel. Millennial travel is the fastest growing market in the travel industry. This group grew up going on family trip to theme parks, the beach, mountain lodges and cruises. Now that the millennial age group is taking there own trips they are looking for something more exciting than seeing the mouse in Orlando. Many travel companies offer complete travel experiences; some of these include volunteer travel, event travel, RV road trips, weekend trips, group travel and packaged holidays. Expect to see steady growth in this category with the increase in millennial travel.
Foreign travel is also on the rise again. Destinations in the US and Europe have dominated the travel landscape for many years but there has been a steady increase in travel to India and China. European countries like Germany and France that have done very well over the years attracting tech companies but as of late, both China and India have been much more successful pulling in tech companies.
The Customer experience (not travel experience) has made some pretty big strides to increase customer satisfaction through engagement. Text-based digital concierge’s are a great way to inform the guest on important travel updates like flight delays, vacation rental check-in status, rental car availability to name a few examples. Don’t be surprised to get a text message saying that your condo is ready to check in the next time you are on vacation.
Luxury travel has also made a comeback. Modern travelers have access to more exotic locales and ultra luxurious vacation spots than ever. Being able to stay in a castle for example, was strictly for the rich, royalty or the connected. Now a few clicks of a button and it’s booked and waiting for your arrival. Want to stay on an exotic over-water bungalow in Bora Bora or the Caribbean? It’s right there waiting for you, just have your credit card, bathing suit and passport ready.
Voice activated searching will make large leaps this season. The popularity of Alexa and Suri devices in recent years has sparked a genuine interest for guests searching for local establishments. About 60% of all US smartphone users have used some kind of voice activated device. As these devices get smarter, interaction will definitely increase and the travel industry will be right there with it.
The integration of virtual reality can give guests get a full 360 degree view of their destination before they arrive. They can see the rental they are staying in, how the pool area looks, banquet and dining areas, local places of interest. The options are endless and all accessible from the comfort of your home.
These are a few of the big game changers this year but expect many others to come.