Whenever there’s been some kind of economic slowdown or recession, the travel industry is set apart by its unique ability to eloquently bounce back. It’s just one of the many things that makes it so unique.
The industry also went through its fair share of drastic changes, however. Gone are the days of the package holidays and visits to travel agents in order to piece together the perfect holiday. It may sound like some kind of doom-saying, but it’s true.
According to more recent studies by KAYAK, 73% of holiday goers reliably book their holidays online. 20% of these same people have also NEVER been inside of a travel agent.
Customers have become an increasingly powerful part of the travel and holiday equation, allowing it to effectively become a (more than) $9trn global industry. That comes with the caveat that, so long as businesses can pair up with customer expectations, then the future is a bright one.
Here are some of the big trends that are shaping the travel industry this year and beyond!
Power to the People! Travel as a Marketplace
Holidays aren’t cheap, no matter how long you stay for. Just how much? That depends on the traveller: with the amount spent on them ranging from $500 to $6,600 per holiday, the latter of which is the amount that the boomer generation typically spends.
The travel industry has been relatively quick to pair up with the emerging trends of the people. We see this quite clearly with the emergence of new and innovative industries within the broader industry.
These include the more ‘recent’ phenomenon’s of wellness and ethical travel, along with the older increasing use of price comparison tools.
Travel Agents: Not Gone, Just Re-interpreted
More than 20% of Americans have never set foot in a travel agents office, with the vast majority of people going completely digital when it comes to researching, planning and booking their dream trip.
Package holiday providers have also been stung pretty badly over the last couple of years. With more people looking online for the best deals, even last minute holidays and flights, there’s little need or time to go to a brick and mortar agent. Thomas Cook was a big example of this back in 2019.
So does this represent a eulogy for travel agents? Not really. Where brick and mortar agents are in decline, travel advisors have become increasingly valuable.
Customers want that personal touch, that goes some way to explaining why people will spend 15% more when building a travel package with an advisor compared to going solo.
With more people getting online, companies that can really appeal and offer customers niche destinations and personalisation will be able to really fly.
Living and Travelling Green: Wellness, Health and Ethical Travel
Industries within the travel industry, indeed. Avenues of holidaymaking like health and wellness travel have become impressive segments in their own rights. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council and Bloomberg, more than $639bn is spent on ‘Wellness’ travel and tourism.
Self-care is certainly a booming market within the travel industry, as a whole; with more people seeking out those kinds of experiences when they arrive at their holiday destination too.
For emerging regions looking to appeal to this far more health and experience-conscious population, offering innovative and competitive ways of making that trip happen can really bolster growth for them.
Thinking green has been having a serious impact on airlines in a short span of time. It’s believed that ‘Flyskam,’ or ‘Flight-Shaming‘ will see growth in air-travel halved this year. Now that’s hardly surprising, considering the fact that, between air and car travel combined, they make up nearly 77% of all carbon emissions within the industry.
Inevitably, with fewer people getting on planes, we’ll be seeing far more in the way of carbon neutrality for airlines seeking to win customers back, while train and sea travel will increase.
Battle of Prices and Packages: Price Comparisons
While a great deal of attention is placed on the experiences related to holiday travel, the cost is still a major factor that individuals and families bare in mind.
63% of people still look for travel that fits in with the kind of budget they have. So while ethical travel is a big interest for bigger spenders, it’s something that the majority aren’t quite interested in yet.
What that does mean is their eyes are fixed on the best deals, wherever they can find them. Businesses need to be attuned to this and provide customers with the knowledge that they’re getting the best possible deal. Fortunately, we’re already seeing this in the B2B marketplace.
We’re, of course, referring to price comparison sites, and simply providing customers with an easy way to see just how much they saved compared to using other platforms. The vast majority of people, regardless of their age, have used price comparison sites at some point while online.
Google’s flight comparison tool is a particularly impressive example. Having been launched relatively recently and shooting past the competition with relative ease. Goes to show that there’s a clear need for it amongst users.
With so many people already putting these tools to use, this growing market is going to see them used far more frequently. And Google has set out a blueprint for what that market’s going to look like: widely accessible, free to use comparison tools to help customers get the best deal.
It’s mutually beneficial in offering that peace of mind to customers, while really setting your online travel deals apart from the rest. It becomes a valuable asset when considering the fact that 80% of people will abandon their holiday packages on the site. So if showing customers that they have the best deal can help reduce that number, that’s a win-win, right?
Unlimint Heads to Travel Technology Europe
Whether it’s a seabound cruise, flights to a distant part of the world or resort, the travel market is a truly exciting and ever-evolving industry. It’s for that reason (among others) that we’re glad to be heading to London Olympia on February 26/27th for Travel Technology Europe!
So if you’re going to be in the neighbourhood, be sure to come and say hi!