For entrepreneurs in the tourism industry, from tour and activity operators to travel agents and accommodation providers, it’s important to stay up to date with consumer trends.
To stay relevant and maintain healthy levels of business, owners need to constantly gauge where growth in markets is and will be, so they can look for ways to capitalise.
Here are some of the top travel trends for 2020 that could transform the industry and impact how you do business in tourism.
The rise of responsible travel continues this year.
In particular, there’s a focus on sustainable tourism, with travellers looking for ways to take trips without treading too harshly on the planet.
According to Booking.com’s 2019 Sustainable Travel Report, almost three-quarters of global travellers intended to stay at least once in an eco-friendly accommodation option in the year ahead.
Plus, 70 percent of global travellers said they’d be more inclined to book accommodation if they knew it was eco-friendly, even if they weren’t originally looking for a sustainable stay.
And big tourism operators are already investing into earth-friendly travel initiatives.
For instance, the two Dubai airports have committed to banning all single-use plastics in their facilities by the end of this year, and Marriot is saying goodbye to single-use plastic toiletries in its chain of hotels.
In South Africa, the &beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve bottles its own purified water in recyclable glass.
In Spain, Finca La Donaira, a luxurious eco-retreat with an on-site equestrian centre and organic farm, produces a significant proportion of its own produce and sells surplus goods to the local community.
Globally, eco-friendly accommodation providers make choices such as providing large pump bottles instead of single-use amenities, setting up rooftop beehives or on-site edible gardens, installing solar panels, buying local, and offering travellers refillable water bottles.
Tour operators are increasingly committed to working only with local guides and giving a proportion of profits back to local community organisations, plus most airlines make it easy for customers to now offset their flights. For local operators, these opportunities currently exist in regional Australia, where bushfire-affected communities are beginning to look for ways to bring visitors back.
Other growing facets of responsible travel include:
Another key trend is people taking their pets with them on holidays rather than leaving the fur babies in kennels or with sitters.
Travellers are on the lookout for accommodation stays that allow them to bring their pets, with many people deciding where to holiday based on what’s best for their animals.
Pet owners are usually willing to pay more to stay somewhere pet-centric.
As a result, more accommodations are not only saying yes to pets but also pampering them.
Dogs, especially, enjoy treats like special day beds, pet spas, in-house walkers, and even dedicated room-service menus.
With the world seemingly in a state of chaos lately, with climate change and political, financial, terrorism, and other concerns at the forefront, consumers seem keen to find ways to feel grounded.
When stress levels are high, we often look to get back to our roots, something that’s showing up in tourism.
‘Ancestral tourism’, also known as ‘genealogy tourism’, is growing as consumers search out ways to learn about and connect with their heritage.
It has in part been driven by globalisation, which has both caused some people to lose touch with their family backgrounds while simultaneously providing the opportunity to return to them.
Today, numerous tourism businesses are making it easier for travellers to investigate their ancestral links through trips away.
People visit places of historical significance to their current or past family members, across generations.
They often enlist support from genealogy experts, who give insights into what life was like for ancestors in the foreign lands visited.
Digital booking behemoth Airbnb is investing in this arena, with a partnership with DNA testing company 23andMe, announced last year.
Consumers will use 23andMe for DNA testing and, when results arrive, receive suggestions of relevant heritage trips, by way of recommended Airbnb accommodation spots and activities.
A related trend that’s also worth noting is multi-generational travel.
Many people are now going on holiday with their parents, grandparents, and other family members.
While this is partly to do with having in-built babysitters, it’s more about giving families the chance to spend quality time together.
Travellers learn from older generations about their youth and lifestyle during visits to places where they grew up.
Just in case you needed further evidence of how time-poor modern professionals are, there’s another trend: ‘micro-cations’.
These are short holidays taken by time-poor workers who go away often for shorter breaks to unwind and recharge.
Such micro-cations give constantly-connected people the chance to fit some leisure time into their otherwise always-on lives.
Many consumers tack vacation days onto business trips or schedule frequent long weekends off for R&R.
These quick trips lend themselves to staying close to home. They’re therefore cheaper, but it’s not money that’s driving the trend.
Instead, travellers like the idea of switching off regularly, whenever they can fit a couple of downtime days into their crowded schedule.
Travellers also don’t have to deal with jet lag, and they feel good about having a lighter impact on the world.