As we mark the passing of the decade and soar into the roaring '20s, it's pertinent for the travel industry to reflect on the societal changes that shaped the 2010s and what it means going forward.
The 2010s are likely to be looked back upon as a decade defined by political upheaval, unprecedented technological advancements, progress in the fight for equality and inclusivity, and a true worldwide acknowledgement of the climate crisis we are facing.
For the travel industry, changes in consumer attitude, emerging demographics and a continuation of fast-paced technological change will see several key trends continue in establishing themselves throughout the new year and beyond.
It's an interesting time for the travel industry, and as travel marketing experts, we're excited.
Holiday taking intent
For UK-based holidaymakers, holiday-taking intent was high throughout 2019 with 88% taking a holiday in the 12 months before July 2019. Despite the now inevitable cloud of Brexit, this is expected to continue into 2020 with research from ABTA indicating that 27% of people plan to spend even more on their holidays this year.
Despite the political uncertainty brought about by Brexit, UK holidaymakers don't seem to be put-off when it comes to travelling overseas with 70% planning a trip abroad during 2020, 57% of which are planning a trip to the EU.
In terms of trends in motivations for taking holidays abroad; finding good value for money looks set to be a key factor in determining a holiday destination. Furthermore, in 2020 there is an expected to be a continuation of consumers looking for authentic experiences and giving greater consideration to the environmental impact of their travels.
Click on the image below to find out more about which overseas destinations are expected to be popular throughout 2020.
The popularity of staycations is expected to continue into 2020 with research courtesy of ABTA indicating 56% are planning a domestic getaway during 2020.
With 2020 being host to several events and anniversaries, the expectation of this being a bumper year for the staycation market is entirely justified.
2020 is Wales' year of outdoors and Scotland's year of coasts and waters; both of which are expected to influence staycation holidaymakers. 2020 also marks notable anniversaries, such as the 75th anniversary of VE day over the May Bank Holiday and sporting events including the Fife Regatta and the EURO 2020 Finals with England's Wembley Stadium hosting both semi-finals and the tournament finale.
One trend that emerged during 2019, and looks set to have a growing impact through 2020 and beyond, is slow travel.
Slow travel is precisely what it sounds like, holidaymakers investing more time to experience destinations on a deeper level at a more laid-back pace.
It is very much the antipode to a fast-paced lifestyle that is increasingly exhibited with how people choose to spend their holidays, particularly amongst younger generations.
Exemplifying the issue is how younger generations approach their travels. We know 89% of younger travellers choose travel activities based on the content posted by their peers online.
We also know younger travellers approach activities within their travels through the lens of 'how can I create a permanent moment out of this on social media?' 97% share photos and videos of their travel experiences on social media.
The cycle reoccurs, leaving us with ever-increasing flocks of tourists rushing to tick-off all the 'Instagrammable' sites and experiences their jam-packed itineraries can accommodate. The stark reality is, many 'Instagram destinations' don't possess the infrastructure required to support such a vast influx of tourists.
With slow travel, travellers frequent fewer sites or go off the beaten track to scarcely known sites. In doing so they spend a significantly larger amount of time at each destination, the benefit being a more authentic experience, and developing deeper connections with locals. This approach to travel doesn't just help combat issues of overtourism, but also lends itself to battling undertourism when travellers go off the beaten track for prolonged periods.
Slow travel also proves beneficial in the fight against climate change. With a lower number of destinations being visited, travellers' carbon footprints tend to be significantly lower.
In a saturated market, there are many challenges for businesses within the travel sector, from smoothing your booking curve, attracting loyal customers to fill your shoulder months, increasing direct bookings, engaging your valuable travel agent partners, or decreasing the frustration of high abandon rates.
Travel agents getting digi with it
The rapid progression of our technological capabilities through the 2010s has been nothing short of radical. Few industries have been exempt from tech-induced change, with travel and tourism being no exception. Going into 2020, and indeed the new decade, thoughts invariably turn to the next big tech trend to watch out for.
This year though, your expectations should be altogether more grounded.
Forget the annual promise of genuinely useful VR that falls flat on its face year-after-year, forget the possibility of self-driving suitcases epitomising the bone-idleness so many are susceptible too, and without a shadow of a doubt forget the promise of affordable space tourism priced with the average-joe in mind.
Instead, the single biggest 2020 tech trend in the travel industry will be a change in the delivery of service from the humble travel agent.
Throughout the 2010s, travel agents endured a great deal. Amidst the emergence of oodles of online booking websites, the rise of the sharing economy, accompanied by every travel blogger worth their salt blazoning themselves as the only travel expert you'll ever need; the modest travel agent has been neglected, burdened with the perception of being an expensive and unnecessary commodity.
It's a damaging perception, one which has driven the closure of more than 1,800 high-street travel agent sites over the last decade. A downwards spiral encapsulated by the passing of Thomas Cook in 2019.
The thing is, the allure of a travel agent very much endures for different holidays. Think honeymoons, corporate getaways, or travelling with a large group of family and/or friends. Basically, absolutely anything where absolutely nothing can be allowed to go wrong. In these scenarios, travel agents are very much worth their weight in gold, taking the stress out of planning these hugely important trips and saving you from the mother of all migraines along the way.
With this in mind, 2020 will be the year of the travel agent renaissance with the demand for digital customer service and support well and truly embraced.
One of the greatest faults of travel agents gone by is a failure to adjust to shifting consumer demands brought about by technology.
Digital channels have become the go-to medium for support, advice, or complaints. The use of LiveChat services, social media or even AI chat-bots empowering users searching for instant assistance.
It seems that travel agents are belatedly catching onto this paradigm shift from consumers seeking support. Many are embracing a more multi-channel approach to providing personalised services.
Hays Travel is one of the more prominent travel agents to adopt this increasingly multi-channel approach and have been rewarded with a 300% increase in digital queries for their troubles. Such was the extent of digital enquiries, Hays moved to create a digital contact centre focused on tackling the growing demand for 24/7 support.
Elsewhere, Travel Counsellors implemented multi-million-pound improvements, allowing members to personalise communication with clients through an updated app and bespoke technology platform.
Finally, looking past the booking phase of the customer journey, TUI implemented an instant messenger within their app. The messenger service allows customers to query any fleeting thought that crosses their mind whilst on their holiday.
Such examples are encouraging first steps for a relatively dated business model. Furthermore, customer experience is unmistakably raised by the introduction of such support-focused technologies. Crucially though, travel agents must proceed to emphasise the creation of true value for their customers and avoid falling into the trap of supplying gimmicks through the guise of technology.
In 2020, whether you like it or not, the world knows more about you than ever before.
Most of us are accustomed to seeing pop-ups on social media and various websites, enticing us to buy that pair of trainers we added to our basket a mere half hour ago, before thinking better of it.
That pesky pop-up is personalisation in it's simplest form. In travel, the principles of personalisation are being applied to many aspects of the holiday experience. The benefit of which is seen in creating an increasingly fluid and enjoyable travel experience.
In years gone by, creating memories somewhere you'd never visited before ensued reliance on several overpriced guidebooks, tips from friends, and a lot of trial and error.
In 2020, travel is simpler. Travel companies far and wide are recognising the benefits greater personalisation offers to their customers.
TripAdvisor has been in the personalisation game for some time now, offering tailor-made recommendations for anything from accommodation and flights, to activities and restaurants.
Elsewhere, a host of travel companies offering tour packages have also jumped on the personalisation bandwagon, with impressive results.
Costsaver, a subsidiary of The Travel Corporation, recently introduced "Flexi-touring", which has been incredibly successful with sales doubling year-on-year. Meanwhile, the TUI escorted tours programme has also received hugely positive feedback from customers, urging the company to expand their number of tours this summer by 50%.
Fundamentally, personalisation enhances user experience. A by-product of which is the purchasing customer becomes significantly more likely to make repeat purchases. An additional benefit of personalisation for businesses is that it ensures business marketing expenditure remains efficient because unappealing promotional content is reduced.
Environmental tourism impact
2019 was a year where millions were inspired to make a more conscious effort to take action against climate change in all aspects of our life.
This global movement, spearheaded by Time's person of the year Greta Thunberg, has seen travellers and companies become increasingly aware of the environmental impact made when travelling. This trend looks set to increase in prominence and urgency throughout 2020 and beyond.
The fact is, the topic of environmental impact has moved to the forefront of people's thoughts when planning a trip. Information provided by ABTA's latest holiday habits report indicates that a company's green credentials are now an essential factor of consideration when planning a holiday.
Travels hot topics in playing its part in combatting the global climate crisis are largely focused around a reduction in carbon emissions, carbon-neutral trips, reducing single-use plastic and capitalising on the trend of veganism.
One of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions within the travel sector is air travel. An appreciation of the impact flying has on the environment has resulted in the concept of 'flight shame' where responsible travellers seek alternative modes of transport to reach their destinations. Research courtesy of Booking.com indicates that younger travellers are particularly mindful of flight shame with 76% of Gen Z willing to seek out alternative mediums of travel. Even airlines themselves, such as KLM are asking passengers to fly less where possible.
All of which inevitably lends itself to the question, what exactly can airlines do to offset carbon emissions? The obvious answer would be to follow the example of the automotive industry and pursue electronic planes, but this is easier said than done.
Despite the difficulties in attaining electric-powered emission-free flying, progress is being made. In 2020, Rolls Royce is hoping to test its first electric plane, ACCEL, the company claims that the aircraft will be able to travel at speeds of 300MPH, though this is nearly half the speed of a standard Boeing 787, it seems a small price to pay for a much cleaner means of air travel and represents vital first steps for the industry. Elsewhere, Israel's Eviation has hopes of flying into the market by 2022 while Easyjet has the ambitious aim of possessing a fleet of fully electric aircraft by the end of the decade.
If the entire world went meat-free by 2050, 8 million human lives would be saved and greenhouse gases would be cut by 2/3, at least according to The Vegan Society.
In 2019, more and more people decided to go meat-free. Research from Sainsbury's has indicated that by 2025 1-in-4 Brits will be living a veggie or vegan lifestyle.
The travel industry is responding by becoming increasingly accommodating to such choices. Epitomising such changes is the UK's first vegan hotel, Saorsa 1875, which opened in June. The Saorsa features rooms free of wool, silk and feather duvets. The hotel is also supplemented by an entirely plant-based food menu. More and more hotels are expected to enter the market and we can expect such hotels to be accompanied by vegan-only tours, retreats and cooking classes.
What can Adido do for you?
Imagine if you could harness your consumers' ability to focus on your brand, tuning out other distractions, such as your competitors. With Adido, you can. Getting, keeping and holding someone’s attention is a massive thing. There is so much choice for consumers that achieving this can have a huge impact on your business. Whether launching a new product, going into a new market or simply trying to engage with repeat visitors, having someone's attention can make or break your business.
Adido is a travel marketing agency, working with brands to create engaging experiences that cut through the noise, the apathy and overload to connect with your audience. By creating valuable interactions and engaging messages that truly relate to the needs and desires of your audience, we create dramatic increases in loyalty, spend and perhaps most importantly, share of thought, that delivers real return on investment.