Travel Trends: 12 Opportunities for the Travel Industry for 2020

It’s an exciting time for the travel industry. Change and evolution is more fast-paced than ever, with shifting demographics and developing technology creating brand new travel trends. Businesses who identify key travel trends and take advantage of them will be uniquely positioned to thrive in this dynamic environment. In this article, you’ll read about 12 travel trends to watch in the near future.

Why Is It Important to Keep up With the Latest Travel Trends?

Staying on top of travel trends is vital for any business in the travel industry, whether in the hospitality sector, transport or entertainment. Customers expect the businesses they patronise to offer the latest innovations. While fads may come and go, some travel trends indicate the direction of the industry as a whole, identifying and embracing these travel trends is vital to remaining relevant in the future.

12 Upcoming Travel Trends for the Travel Industry

1: Personalisation

Personalisation is a hot travel trends these days, especially in marketing, is increasingly easy in today’s data-driven world. It’s also increasingly important. Personalised marketing takes data regarding a client and uses this to tailor advertising and promotion specifically to that person. A simple example would be the targeted ads that appear in your web browser when you visit certain sites, which use information derived from your browsing habits and prior purchases to show you products that might interest you. A regular traveller might be offered deals on plane or rail tickets, or useful gadgets such as adapters, power banks or noise-cancelling headphones.

Video: Personalisation in Travel


Find more detailed information and examples about “Personalisation marketing” in the travel industry in the article “5 Ways Personalisation Marketing is Used in the Travel Industry”.

2: Bleisure Travel

Bleisure travel (also known as a “bizcation”) combines both travel for work or commerce and leisure activities. While not the newest of travel trends — extending a business trip to enjoy some leisure time at a destination has been a common practice for as long as business trips have existed — bleisure travel has been enthusiastically embraced by Millennials. For the frugal under-40 traveller, combining work and leisure travel is the most effective way to visit locations that they might otherwise not be able to afford. The most extreme version of bleisure travel is the “digital nomad” phenomenon, where online workers travel the globe with a laptop.

Video: The State of Business Travel — Bleisure Benefits


Find more detailed information about “Bleisure Travel” in the articles “What is Bleisure Travel?” and “Bleisure: Tips for Hotels to Attract More Bleisure Travellers”.

3. Recognition technology

Recognition technology is a broad category of devices, systems and protocols. One branch of this technology uses individual biometrics to identify specific individuals. An example might be the face-recognition technology used in some airports to expedite passport control, or simple fingerprint locks on mobile phones and other devices. Another example of recognition technology is voice control, where spoken commands are used to control, for example, systems in a hotel room: lights, heating, entertainment etc. Voice control can be set up to respond to any speaker; it’s also possible to restrict voice controlled systems to a particular individual.

Video: KLM’s smart pack assistant on Google Home


Find more detailed information about voice control in the travel industry in the article “How Can Voice Control Benefit the Travel Industry?”.

4: Robots

Automation is one of the key travel trends to watch, with many tasks that were once handled by humans now being taken over by robots or automated systems. A familiar example would be the chatbots that have fallen into widespread use across the industry, which are designed to help people find and book tours, transport and accommodation by asking a set of questions. More sophisticated examples might include the robot “staff” used by a few hotels to run the reception desk or even serve food and drinks. In the future, robots in the form of self-driving cars are likely to be one of the major travel trends.

Video: Alibaba Opens AI “Future Hotel” With the Help of Robots


Find more detailed information about how to use robots in the travel industry in the article “Robots in the Travel Industry: 8 Real-World Examples”.

5: Local experience

The days when travellers expected to be cloistered in a resort, consuming the same food they ate at home and interacting chiefly with people from their own country, are drawing to a close. Instead of peering out from a hotel balcony with only the climate to distinguish home from abroad, today’s travellers now crave engagement with the people, cultures and landscapes of the countries they visit. Local food is a key feature of many trips, with people keen to try new things. Cultural experiences are a high point of many journeys and modern travellers are eager to witness and participate in local traditions.

Video: A Local Travel Guide of Amsterdam


Video: Food Travel Vlog about Local Food in Hong Kong


6: Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI systems are becoming one of the top travel trends. Many types of AI are now used all across the tourism industry. There are the aforementioned chatbots which use artificial intelligence to automate and streamline many sales and customer service tasks. As customers require faster response times and more interaction, chatbots bridge the gap when human operators are not available. Although limited in their functionality, chatbots can provide a wealth of useful information for customers. Machine learning allows these systems to learn from every interaction and continually improve. AI is also widely used now in data collection and analysis — important tools for boosting efficiency, security and customer satisfaction.

Video: Create Your Bot Booking Travel


Find more detailed information and examples about artificial intelligence use cases in the travel industry in the article “How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Travel Industry”.

7: Internet of things (IoT)

The IoT has gone from a geeky curiosity to one of the most important trends in the travel industry. Internet connected and microprocessor-controlled devices (smart devices) have become increasingly prevalent. From dedicated iPad tablets used to provide information for museum-goers to smart hotel rooms where lights and HVAC systems can be controlled using voice commands, the IoT is permeating every aspect of travel and tourism. With Amazon introducing a hospitality-oriented version of its popular Alexa virtual assistant, this trend is firmly set to continue. Guests can use the Alexa for Hospitality hub to control their room environment, book sessions at gyms or spas and ask for services.

Example: Smart Technology Smarter Airports


Find more detailed information about the ‘Internet of Things’ in the travel industry in the article “How the Internet of Things (IoT) can Benefit the Travel Industry”.

8: Eco Travel

Today’s customers are more ecologically conscious than ever and current trends reflect that. Airlines, tour operators, car hire firms, hotels and a whole spectrum of businesses across the industry have embraced this trend, which is only set to become more prevalent in future. Some changes have been small and fairly simple, such as allowing air travellers to purchase carbon credits when they book a flight in order to offset the environmental impact. Another example would be vehicle hire companies that are now offering, and even specialising in, electrical vehicles. Hotels and resorts with an emphasis on sustainable technology are springing up around the world.

Video: How to travel eco-friendly Germany


9: Virtual reality

Virtual reality has made the jump from a leisure activity to a useful tool for travellers. As well as providing fun and immersive gaming experiences, using VR makes it easier to plan trips and explore destinations before setting out. Virtual reality can be used to enrich visits to historic sites by recreating ancient monuments and other structures as they might have appeared. Virtual reality can also be used for “City marketing” to persuade potential travellers to choose for a certain destination. Other examples might include interactive virtual maps or VR hotel tours/ 360 video tours to present your hotel upfront.

Video: A Guided City Tour (360 VR Video) of Rome


Find more detailed information and examples about how virtual reality can benefit your business in the article “How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry”.

10: Augmented reality

Closely related to virtual reality is augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality combines virtual elements with real-world experiences. AR travel trends include museum exhibits where visitors can view objects and structures in the real world, then see them overlaid with a reconstruction of their original appearance; for instance, Greek marbles with a virtual overlay of their original colours. Augmented reality can also be used to provide information about the location that a visitor is exploring — cultural or historical data or listings for entertainment and travel. Augmented reality is easily realised using common devices such as smartphones, further driving these travel trends.

Video: Augmented Reality Within the Travel Industry


Find more detailed information and examples about how augmented reality can benefit your business in the article “How Augmented Reality is Revolutionising the Travel Industry”.

11: Healthy and organic food

Travel and healthy eating used to be mutually exclusive concepts — but not anymore. A more health-conscious customer base drives these travel trends, increasing demand for more wholesome food and options for those on special diets. Vegetarians, vegans, those who need to avoid gluten, lactose or other common allergens — all these groups are better served now than ever before. Hotels and resorts are combining health and leisure with innovative new cuisine, often with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients and regional recipes. Some resorts focus on specific goals such as weight loss. Food-related travel trends also emphasise organic produce.

Video: Organic Holiday in Italy


12: Customer Experience

Enriching the customer’s experience is vital in the modern travel and tourism industry. Customers have more options than ever so ensuring loyalty and satisfaction is increasingly important. All of the strategies and technologies listed above have their parts to play in creating a positive customer experience. From the chatbots used to book a trip, to the food on offer, to the smart devices in the hotel room and the AR applications that help guests navigate their destinations — it’s all about improving the way the customer feels about their journey or their stay. When adopting a new trend, it’s important to ask: “How can this enhance the customer’s experience?”.

Find more information and examples about customer experience in the article “8 Ways to Improve Customer Experience in the Travel Industry”.

You may already have adopted some of these travels trends as part of your own business model. Other travel trends may seem more esoteric, particularly those relating to emerging technologies. Even so, it’s important to get on board now if you don’t want to be left behind.

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