Trends To Expect In The Travel Industry In 2017
2016 was chaotic, adventurous, disruptive or productive - it depends on who you ask. If you ask the players in the travel industry however, you're likely to get an "Oh! It was great" response laden with a smile or two.
First, it's important to discuss the two main drivers that will shape the travel trends that we see in 2017. One; technology, and two; millennials (a fancy name for the world's largest generation - people that reached young adulthood around the year 2000).
Technology has led to exponential advancements in all spheres of life, travel included. It's shaping the way we want to travel, how travel agencies interact with us and the places we want to go to. Millennials constitute the age group that is most exposed to technology, they have an immense travel spending potential, higher tendencies to travel, and also dictate to a great extent the future of travel and the trends to expect in 2017.
Here goes the list of trends;
- Rise in the demand for authentic local experiences and activity packed tours:
Before now, travel outside of business focused more on relaxation and change of scenery. Where the older generation would mostly travel for these reasons, millennials are more inclined to travel with the goal of having immersive and interactive experiences, learning something new while travelling in Peru, living the life of the locals in Mexico, exploring Lagos, and having more action packed trips outside of mere sightseeing. This trend was prominent in the past year, and is expected to continue strongly into 2017 as the millennial generation which is adventure driven continues to dominate world travel.
- Through VR, travel marketers will take locations to potential tourists and travelers:
The trend of taking the location to potential travelers gained some traction in the past year mainly through the use of Virtual Reality technology. In 2017, players such as airlines and travel marketers are expected to improve on the technology and exploit it even further.
In the past, Delta airlines have used VR to showcase new cabin features to potential travelers so as to convert them, or to make them upgrade their chosen flight cabins. Amongst others, Virgin Holidays have demonstrated the potential of this tech by creating virtual experiences for potential travelers of the locations that they plan to visit - a feel of the Kajuru Castle in Nigeria from Oslo, or a Caribbean beach experience from New York city.
In 2017, it is expected that this marketing strategy becomes a trend that is embraced by players in the travel industry.
- The year of travel bots on messaging platforms:
The year before, the travel industry saw the introduction of messaging bots from hotel chains, airlines, ridesharing services amongst others. It was mostly experimental and only a slight dip into the big sea of potentials the technology can offer. These travel bots are powered by artificial intelligence and they are programmed to anticipate and answer travel related questions that clients or potential travelers might ask. In 2017, after the experimentation phase that we saw last year, it is expected that more players in the travel industry roll out their own travel bots and that it becomes a norm.
- Improved sync of all sectors of travel:
Through technology, the entire travel schedule for most travelers is pre-planned. This usually involves booking flights in advance, booking a hotel in the desired destination, car rentals and navigation through digital maps. For the bulk of travelers, these activities are done in isolation. Several technological platforms that manage the entire travel through just one portal are however becoming popular. In a world that is increasingly becoming dependent on technological solutions, the roll out of all inclusive travel management platforms will be a trend in 2017.
- A blend of business and pleasure travel:
Today's work pattern and culture is different from what it used to be. Today, work typically has a looser structure. This makes it easier for business travelers to indulge in activities that count as pleasure and take time out to experience the work location as a leisure tourist would. Business travellers who are increasingly becoming millennials are blurring the distinction between business and leisure travel, and in 2017, it's expected to be even more so as fun increasingly becomes an integral of work.
- A push for direct bookings by chain hotels:
In most of the world, OTAs such as Hotels.ng act as middle men that connect travelers with hotels. Top hotel brands in the developed world that have several chains of hotels under them and lots of capital are expected to attempt to cut out OTAs by aggressive marketing targeted at the travelers themselves. Smaller brands and hotels are not expected to follow this trend as it requires a lot of capital and poses a risk of losing out on clients if no relationship with OTAs exist. Considering the strenuous relationship between top hotel chains and OTAs in recent times, the hotels are expected to lead a noisy campaign that will help them to be independent of OTAs in 2017.
- Increased users on OTA platforms:
Despite the predicted push by top hotel brands to cut out OTAs, it is expected that OTAs worldwide record a surge in their clientele as internet becomes more available worldwide and cheaper too. This wave that has been growing for the past few years will also benefit from the crashing prices of smartphones and is expected to continue into 2017 as millennials who are the major travelers are also very tech savvy.
- It will be all about the consumer:
Customer is king - a cliche that we hear all the time. This phrase is even truer in the travel industry as all the players realise that 2017's traveler will be the guy that is used to having all the information and services that he needs at the snap of a finger, a guy who is used to having options. Today's traveler does not go out searching for services, the services and options must come to meet him. As a result of this, in 2017, the travel industry will bend over even more to satisfy the modern traveler.
The travel industry promises to offer another bumpy ride in 2017, but from all indications, it will be a positive year as the industry has grown its platforms over the years to meet today's demand.