As news around Brexit continues to dominate, 2019 will definitely be a year of unpredictability, both economically and politically. But it will also be a year of dynamic change and opportunity, with traveller habits continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. From regenerative tourism to skip-gen group travel, this report focuses on travel trends that are emerging or returning, and the buzzwords in between. We have aimed to join the dots between research data and innovative problem-solving solutions - shining a light on a selection of tourist boards and tour operators that are tapping in to people’s desire to enjoy curated, sustainable and authentic experiences. What we do know for certain is that: Ecotourism is now driving decisions in a big way with an ever-increasing demand for responsibility and transparency. Solo travel continues to gain interest, thus shaking off the age-old stigma that lone travelling is for the lonely. Overtourism has drawn new boundaries with more efforts being made to highlight hidden gems and off-the-beaten-tracks. Travellers are embracing an explorer’s mindset in the pursuit of bucket list experiences.
Immersion is now a priority with travellers seeking a connection with something bigger than themselves.
We hope you find this report interesting and, above all, useful. If you have any questions or would like further information on research methodologies, please contact our Strategy Director, Jasman Ahmad (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Contents: Sustainability no longer just a buzzword in tourism 2 The ‘in the moment’ economy shaping experiential travel 1 Overtourism fixing the beaten track by getting off it 3
The solo traveller and how to reach them 4
Not to be skipped multi-generational travel in 2019 5
The ‘in the moment’ economy shaping experiential travel
In 2012, ‘bucket list’ was added to the English Miriam Webster dictionary. As the decade has progressed, our affiliation with social media and documenting ‘moments’ has transformed the way we approach our entire lives - from dining out, to exercising, to travel. We have shifted from affirmation by materialism into an experience economy with Instagram feeds being effectively positioned as our very own scrollable bucket lists in progress. Given 85% of leisure travellers only decide on activities having arrived at a destination (Think with Google July 2016) , there is a market for high-quality mobile-based content to inspire, educate and organise experiences on impulse. Undoubtedly, Californian start-up Airbnb reflects this trend with their home-sharing platform - revolutionising what it means to ‘live as a local.’ After eight years in business, it launched its Experiences portal in 2016. Purposely leaning away from the generic (and likely to be over- subscribed) activities, Airbnb’s top-rated offers include ‘flight lesson in an open cockpit plane’ (Arizona), Maui Goat Yoga with Miniature Goats (Hawaii), Salsa lessons in Old Town Havana (Cuba) and an Instagrammable photo shoot in LA.
If you look at the start of our Homes business compared to the start of our Experiences business, in the same time period we’ve served 21 times as many guests. The reality of that is that we have access to an already engaged traveller set that want authentic travel. The idea of an Experience is not a crazy one to them. Joe Zadeh, VP of Airbnb Experiences
A brand that has been pro-active in this space is Paris-based hotel chain, Accor Hotels. The launch of the AccorLocal app in 2017 is an example of how the hospitality industry is adjusting to the experience economy without losing the core value of good service. The app allows communities to use their local craftspeople and services within an Accor hotel outside of opening hours. It also allows non-residents to use hotels’ amenities and working spaces, helping to create a robust community experience. The app is currently operating in France, but the company are confident that its success will spread to Europe and worldwide in 2019 and beyond. Despite the growth and popularity of Airbnb, most travellers are still booking experiences directly with the activity provider, tour operator or, interestingly, the hotel themselves. Furthermore, with 56% of travellers expressing an interest in using a mobile app for finding and booking an activity in destination (Mintel Holiday Activity and Experiences February 2019) , there is a real opportunity for all parties to develop and better promote easy-to-use apps and mobile-friendly sites. This allows the impulsive traveller to mix with the locals while they tick off items on their bucket lists and share via social media channels.
Which of these did you book paid-for activities through for holidays abroad in the last 12 months? Please select all that apply.
Directly from the local attraction/activity provider
Local tourist information centre
Online-only travel agent (eg Expedia, TripAdvisor)
Mintel: Holiday Activity and Experiences Abroad (February 2019)
Sustainability no longer just a buzzword
According to ABTA’s 2018 travel survey, 36% of people would choose one travel company over another if they have a better environmental record . This is up 6% year-on-year.
As issues like single-use plastic and climate change become a part of everyday vocabulary, questioning the sustainability of a product has essentially become part of the consumer mindset. For a brand or industry to be deemed sustainable, it relies on the blending of three elements: environmental, social and economic. In other words, a brand’s impact on the planet, its people and its profit - as consumers look beyond the product on the shelf and take into consideration what’s happening behind the scenes. Recent research commissioned by Sonar for JW Thompson found that 87% of respondents said they would prefer to buy from brands that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability , while 70% said they would consider paying more for products with these credentials.* One company that is taking this issue seriously is small-group adventure travel experts G Adventures. Since the very beginning, they have operated under the belief that travel is an exchange, not a commodity, and understanding the need for transparency, they have introduced
a ‘ripple score’ for a range of their tours. This is a valuation that lets travellers see what percentage of a tour’s local expenditure remains in the local economy - a score of 93 means 93% of the money spent in-destination is benefiting local businesses and people. Further headway is being made in sustainable travel with aggregator leaders booking.com establishing the Booking Booster Accelerator programme.
Launched in 2017, this programme offers a €2 million fund each year to start-up brands offering technology- driven solutions to sustainable travel challenges. The highest grant winner of 2018 was GHE (Global Himalayan Expedition) - a company that organises treks to unelectrified villages where responsible travellers can come together to provide solar energy to remote communities, creating a life-long impact.
* J. Walter Intelligence: ‘The New Sustainability: Regeneration’ September 2018
To add, research commissioned by Travel Weekly and Deloitte highlights areas specific to sustainability that are affecting the responsible traveller.
Over six years, concerns of water use in hotels grew the most, raising from 9% to 18%. Next highest was the impact of flying, followed by waste disposal.
Tourism sustainability concerns 2012 vs 2018
Do local people benefit?
Water use in hotel
Impact on destination
Impact of flying
October 2018 October 2012
Travel Weekly Insight Annual Report 2018-19
Moving forward, we may see a shift from discussions of sustainability to that of ‘regeneration.’
With risks of ‘greenwashing’ affecting consumer trust, the travel industry needs to show that efforts being made are not simply focused on minimising the bad but, just as importantly, maximising the good. And this starts with offering travellers transparent and candid information on how your brand is contributing to both the local and global community, as well as influencing (or at least keeping up-to-date with) innovations in sustainable practices.
Overtourism fixing the beaten track by getting off it
Searches for ‘overtourism’ (worldwide)
It is beginning to feel that buzzwords are swamping the travel industry – as more and more are coined in a bid to help marketers navigate an industry that is set to serve 1.6 billion tourists by 2020 .
Overtourism, however, is one that quite simply means what it says on the tin - too many tourists in environments that simply can’t manage the volume. What’s more, we can see from Google Trends that consumers are increasingly aware of this issue and how it overloads infrastructure, damages nature and threatens culture and heritage. Overtourism can be attributed to several developing factors, but the main one is the rise of the ‘global middle class’ - a group who want and can travel further and wider than ever before. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this group is expected to rise from the 1.8 billion observed in 2009 to 4.9 billion by 2030 (+172%).
Global middle-class growth representation (in billions)
In response to this issue, tour operators are making efforts to promote off-the-beaten-track destinations. In 2018, Globus introduced ‘Undiscovered Italy’ followed by ‘Undiscovered Britain’, showcasing lesser-known and less accessible parts of these popular destinations. Intrepid Travel began a 2018 ‘not-hot list’, highlighting the best alternatives to popular destinations with this year’s Asia Edition including articles such as ‘Komodo is the new Ubud’ and ‘Sumatra is the new Borneo.’ Tourist boards are also being smart with addressing this issue. Visit Oslo, a campaign that kick-started in 2017, is a prime example of this. Conscious that Oslo cannot compete with Paris’ Mona Lisa or Louvre, they launched their ‘The Great Escape’ initiative focused on ‘rescuing’ tourists from the overcrowded and obvious city breaks by providing both style and culture without any queues or selfie sticks.
In addition, progress is being made in places that have already fallen victim to overtourism. After ‘Veniceland’ made headlines in the summer of 2018, a tourist tax for day visitors has been introduced as well as ‘respect wardens’ who are now patrolling the city’s streets. These are educating people to understand the little things that are so important in Venice’s daily life such as keeping to the right when crossing bridges, not stopping on raised walkways and not littering. To tackle numbers on a larger scale, it has been proposed that by 2022, large cruise ships will be banned from sailing through the Giudecca Canal. famous city walls in a single day, prompting UNESCO to threaten to remove Dubrovnik’s World Heritage Site status. In response, in January 2017, the former mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusi, launched a plan to limit numbers in line with UNESCO’s recommendation, as well as installing 116 surveillance cameras to count people entering and leaving the fortified complex. Five months later, Dubrovnik voted in Mato Frankovi as its new mayor who has been even more radical in his approach, announcing a cap on visitors to 4,000 per day, saying that the city needs to ‘reset’. In August 2016, over 10,000 visitors bought tickets to walk Dubrovnik’s
Looking at Lisbon (another city in the overtourism danger zone), it seems culture may be the answer. There is an argument that the perspective of the traveller is what needs to change, as the focus is less ‘stranger’ stigmatisation and more temporary citizenship – removing the ‘us vs them’ mentality. Initiatives include the introduction of the ‘Lojas Com História’ policy, which aims to use tourist tax to subsidise and preserve Lisbon’s traditional shops and eateries, as well as funding the ‘Lisboa na Rua’, a festival that runs from August until September, offering free concerts in various locations across the city. The truth is, we all want to see the world - but it is time for travel brands to educate and inspire travellers to think realistically about what their desired trip entails, whilst opening their eyes to suitable alternatives.
It’s about tapping into the experiences that travellers think they want to have and providing them with an alternative.
The solo traveller and how to reach them
With each year that passes, more and more people are choosing to travel alone, with ABTA’s 2018 report revealing 1 in 6 holidaymakers had taken a solo trip last year (an increase of 12% year-on-year). Demographical shifts are a starting point to this trend - quite simply, more of us are single. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2017, the number of single people who have never married had risen by 3.9 million (that’s 31%) since 2002. Flash Pack, a group travel company for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s, released a survey* at the start of this year that asked respondents
about their life priorities. 77% said ‘seeing the world’ was at the top of their list whereas more traditional life goals, such as marriage and owning a house, came in at 20% and 17% respectively. People’s perceptions of life milestones and personal achievements are adapting, and solo travel appears to be factoring into this. However solo travel does not just rely on people being single. Insights into solo holidays by Mintel found almost 32% of solo travellers were either married, cohabiting, or living in a civil partnership . Clearly, today’s solo traveller is no longer defined by their relationship status, age bracket or social circle.
Instead, they are increasingly choosing to take a holiday by themselves in order to do exactly what they want, when they want. Unfortunately, Mintel’s research also shows that a disparity exists between this increasing demand and what’s on offer. As indicated by the results below, almost two-thirds of solo travellers feel more could be done to cater for their needs .
Do you agree with the following?
You can have more of an adventure traveling on your own
The travel industry does not cater well enough for solo travellers
There’s a stigma attached to going on holiday on your own
* Survey conducted by third-party research firm Mortar, polling 2,000 30 to 49-year-old Britons and 1,000 30 to 49-year-old Americans in December 2018.
All travellers Solo travellers
Mintel: Solo Holidays (October 2018)
If there’s one issue that continues to exasperate solo travellers, it is the injustice of having to pay a single supplement for a holiday, especially when occupying a tiny single room or a single berth on a cruise ship. Even when the supplement can be justified - for sole occupancy of a double room - single travellers regularly report they are given inferior rooms compared with those allocated to two people sharing. But at last, progress is happening. Travelzoo recently ran a campaign dedicating an entire month to supplement-free solo travel - joining forces with 25 industry partners including Cox & Kings, STA and Saga Cruises. The theme continues with escorted tour specialists Voyages Jules Verne now having an entire page on its website dedicated to showcasing tours that have no single supplement charge. Cruising, we know, is an industry that appeals to the solo traveller, possibly due to concerns of safety and loneliness being naturally addressed on board.
Fred. Olsen is one brand utilising this interest with ships offering 190 dedicated solo rooms, accounting for almost 10% of the overall inventory.
And as part of its winter warmer offer (cruises departing between October 2018 and March 2019), Fred. Olsen removed all solo supplements for those choosing to travel alone. And finally, in the adventure travel sector, Intrepid Travel used last year’s International Women’s Day to launch their female-only programmes to Iran, Morocco and Jordan. These tours are designed specifically for women wishing to travel to Middle Eastern countries to enjoy experiences that would otherwise be unattainable in regular group trips. Intrepid’s efforts stretch beyond solo supplement annoyances, as they strive to break down the barriers of traditional tourism and present themselves as an equality-concerned, ethical travel community. So, the voices of solo travellers are starting to be heard at last – with brands recognising the demand and seeing this opportunity with a new, positive perspective and some fresh confidence.
Not to be skipped multi-generational travel
Family travel has always been widely acknowledged. However, who sits within this group and, more importantly, who purchases these holidays is increasingly likely to be the segment of travellers that are so often ignored - the over-55s.
We are a rapidly ageing population; one that is set to include 500,000 centenarians by 2050. So, with more generations living together (and for longer), the growth potential for brands that understand and engage with this complex and lucrative market is enormous.
This year’s Holiday Review by Mintel found that 49% of adults are interested in a multi-generational holiday and that staycations and short-haul getaways are significantly higher choices for those considering this type of trip. Following research by Viking Cruises in 2018, it was found that nearly one-fifth (18%) of those over 65 regularly travel with their adult children and grandchildren .
We know that our over-65 guests are adventurous, active and culturally curious. This has undoubtedly contributed to a rise in travel experiences that appeal to the extended family dynamic.
Which of the following destinations would you consider travelling to if taking a multi-generational holiday?
Wendy Atkin-Smith, MD, Viking UK
Multi-generational travel was one of the biggest travel trends of 2018 - and it’s set to continue into this year and beyond. It refers to family trips which encompasses multiple generations i.e. grandparents, parents and children travelling together.
Mintel 2019 Holiday Review (February 2019)
Given the myriad of choice onboard, and the strong appeal to mature travellers, the cruise industry has slotted well within this trend. We are seeing ships accommodating cabins for multi-generational travellers, presenting options that suit the oldest as well as the youngest members of the group. To add, in 2018, CLIA listed ‘skip-gen’ to their yearly trend report – that’s ‘skipped generations’ i.e. grandparents wishing to holiday with their grandchildren (without mum and dad). This should not be a surprise when you learn that, according to Age UK, 40% of the nation’s grandparents are providing regular care for their grandkids. This, together with the increasing number of parents working full-time points to why many brands have seen a rise in booking numbers from this demographic.
Way back in 2010, Mexico-based Velas Resorts introduced a product that waived fees for grandparents during a family stay. Since then, their commitment to this market and skip-gen has grown, with this luxury hospitality brand releasing two skip-gen themed ‘micro-adventures’ in May 2018. These excursions were designed to entice both generations – appreciating that a sense of adventure does not deteriorate with age. More recently, luxury travel agent Black Tomato, which have a reputation for providing unforgettable holidays, have added an entire ‘multi- generational travel’ page to its family travel section on its website. We can explain these growing trends with two simple factors: the over-55s are more active, able and relatable to their adult children than ever before, and a larger group holiday, where costs can be spread, is simply a more attractive way to travel, particularly in a time of economic uncertainty.
group with different values, interests and lifestyles directly influencing their buying habits. Hence, it is important for brands to acknowledge the age sub-segments and differing attitudes that exist within this demographic. This is shown in Mintel’s Lifestyle of the over-55s Report (September 2018), which found key differences between those aged 55-64 and those 75+. Only 9% of 55-64-year-olds said they felt too old to go on a long-distance holiday, whereas this raised to 56% for the over-75s. In short, by categorising groups using strict demographic labels and only engaging via traditional media outlets, brands could be missing out on a whole host of opportunities - highlighting the need to have a clear understanding of how their content is being consumed across multiple platforms and devices.
The over-55s represent a diverse, experienced and sophisticated
Looking back at what we’ve covered in this report, a demand for transparency is a key underlying theme, which is particularly relevant for the growing number of responsible travellers who are keen to explore the world with companies that have ethical credentials. Indeed, the result of this is not only a more responsible trip when it comes to travellers’ impacts but also a more authentic, exciting and culturally immersive one for them too. In the same vein, we talk about over-tourism which, although not a new problem, did not hit the headlines until the summer of 2017. There are many contributing factors and, of course, these will vary from place to place but, across the board, efforts are now being made to promote off-the-beaten-track experiences. Looking at solo travel, it has never been more sociable or in demand - for young professional adults, students on a sabbatical, older ‘second-time round’ travellers or any other type of adventurous soul. The safety and convenience of travelling to some of the world’s most exciting destinations in a small group of like-minded people is becoming increasingly attractive - more so for some than say, buying a house or owning a car.
At the other end of the spectrum, multi-generational holidays are also on the rise, offering a perfect solution of saving money, on hand babysitters and quality bonding that creates lasting memories. Chosen with care, these holidays can offer the right balance of activities, culture and relaxation to appeal to everyone. And talking of culture, it’s clear that travellers are becoming increasingly drawn to holidays where they can experience or learn something new. From tea plucking to pizza making, from workshops to one-on-one mentoring, holidays that allow someone to come back with a richer understanding of a destination’s culture, as well as a new skill, are growing in popularity. Brands should feel reassured that the desire to see the world shows no sign of slowing down; perhaps this is because travel makes us happy and fills us with wonder. It also lets us experience things first-hand, gives us lifelong memories, fosters personal growth and, last but not least, forces new situations upon us so we adapt and learn. Long may this continue.
At Accord, we recognise that it is our job to provide insights that go beyond raw statistics or research and instead deliver the multi-dimensional view of your customers, your market and your competitors. Using qualitative and quantitative data, it’s a process that requires creativity, persistence and deep-thinking - especially in travel, an industry that is in a constant state of evolution.
Meet the team:
Eloise Pates Research and Insights Executive
Joining the team in September 2018, Eloise has come armed with fresh ideas and a new perspective to her role as Research and Insights Executive. With a degree in English Literature and Psychology, she is keen to blend her copywriting background and interest in human behaviour with data interpretation skills. As well as contributing to bespoke research pieces, it is her job to produce valuable insights over a range of markets and communicate these in a logical and creative way. email@example.com
Jasman Ahmad Strategy Director
As Accord’s Strategy Director, Jasman’s role is focused on using specialist media tools to undertake forensic research to understand evolving consumer behaviour. A planner at heart, he is a strategic thinker and behavioural science enthusiast with 11 years’ advertising agency experience. Having studied Marketing at a postgraduate level, Jasman is also a recent graduate of Mark Ritson’s Mini MBA in Marketing. He is a huge lover of all things tech,
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