Smart Travel Analytics N.America 2015

January 2015, New York

15 online travel predictions for 2015 – the final 5 and a chance to WIN!

In a third and final installment Mariam Sharp gives her final five predictions for the coming year

In the first predictions of the year we looked at mobile, localisation and payments to name a few. In part II of 15 predictions for 2015, the highlights were big data, personalisation, the Internet of Things, security and big moves by the big boys. Now it’s time for the final five! Here goes.

1.    Watch out for emerging markets 

With international travellers projected to almost double by 2020, to approximately 1.6 billion, the most significant increases are expected to take place in markets like China, India and South-East Asia. Eastern Europe completes this picture, followed by the Latin American and finally Africa.

The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are expected to continue to grow as destinations, others that are still growing strongly are South Africa, Mexico, Eastern European destinations, Turkey and The United Arab Emirates. Caribbean destinations are also looking to grow and include Costa Rica and Cuba. In her research Mariah Assunção Global Conference Director at EyeforTravel has heard that: “Indonesia will be a focus for Asian companies investments”. Tourists from emerging markets are travelling the world in increasing numbers and they are increasingly spending more than other nationalities when they do. While B2C plays may be becoming saturated in the West, there is still opportunity in Asia Pacific but also other emerging markets. This is summed up by a recent quote from Yogendra Vasupal, the founder of vacations rental player Stayzilla: “We haven’t even scratched the proverbial tip of the giant ‘stay’ market in India!”

2.    Tours and activities: time to focus on lycra?

Market research group Euromonitor, recently published in The World Travel Market Global Trends Report 2014 that the number of golf players in the United States has declined from 25 million in the noughties to 19 million in 2013. Meanwhile, in the one-year span between 2012 and 2013, the number of cyclists grew from 3.5 million to 3.8 million leading to predictions of the rise of the MAMIL - Middle Aged Men in Lycra. Could Raffles Hotel in Perth, which recently turned away men in lycra be missing a trick? In Europe, an initiative is currently underway to develop a network of cycling routes that would connect the whole continent by 2020. EuroVelo currently comprises 14 routes. When complete, the network will span 70,000 kilometres, an indication of a trend towards a general increase in activities and tours. Executive vice president of Gray Line Worldwide Brett Asbury argues that for OTAs, airlines and hotels, the tour and activity sector represents a multi-billion dollar market of untapped ancillary booking revenue. EyeforTravel MD Tim Gunstone couldn’t put it more succinctly: ‘It’s time we took ancillaries seriously!’

3.    The rise of the educated traveller

There is a growing tend towards people travelling to learn rather than to escape. As described above this will impact ancillary offers that can be made, from an extension of popular activities such as workshops on languages, cooking and photography through to larger gatherings such as TED events that need large venues. This trend is growing most in luxury markets. Not only do travellers want the most deluxe accommodation, spa treatments, and activities, they also want something that offers a truly unique and memorable experience. In business travel the importance of networking and learning is also on the rise and Delta addressed this last spring with the launch of their Innovation Class which connects people through their LinkedIn profiles and also includes a mentoring programme.

4.    Sleep deprivation

With new research showing the links between sleep deprivation and a range of conditions from depression to diabetes, hotels are increasingly considering how they can offer their guests improved sleeping environments. As just once example Crowne Plaza unveiled a new headboard that helps cut ambient noise by 30%. The next-generation Crowne Plaza room features angled, padded headboards placed slightly away from the wall to minimise ambient sounds. In a nod to the Internet of Things an array of sleep-centric tech enhancements are being developed especially in lighting and furniture design as hotels prioritise ensuring that their guests get quality REM sleep. These range from bed improvements, through to dawn simulator lighting, and wrist sensors so that guests can track and analyse the causes of restlessness – with potential opportunities for a relaxing upsell in the spa?

5.    Increased social responsibility

As global travellers increase, in number and diversity, there will also be an increase in the demand for social responsibility that will impact all industries including travel. The rise of peer-to-peer travel will mean that travellers will hear stories of locals and engage in their concerns which will increase the demands for better ethical practices from the companies they engage with. Millennials are more likely than other generations to take a company’s reputation for social responsibility into account when making purchase decisions, finds a survey by Harris Interactive last August. Also they volunteer for causes they believe in both offline and online, and a companies CSR policy is more likely to effect their employment choices.

Executive Vice President of Gray Line Worldwide, Brett Asbury, will be speaking later this month at Smart Travel Analytics, North America (Jan 28-29)

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