»

Travel Trend Report

2017

Travel Trend Report 2017
by Sara Burkhard, Nicole Kow and Lucy Fuggle

Copyright © 2016 by TrekkSoft AG

www.trekksoft.com/library

Cover Design Copyright © 2016 by TrekkSoft
Book design by Matthias Maraczi


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any
form by any electronic or mechanical means - except in the case of
brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews - without written
permission from the publisher.

»
BE READY FOR ALL BOOKINGS
and make 2017 your best year yet
Grow your business with TrekkSoft’s booking software
loaded with valuable features including a website builder,
channel manager, and booking desk for agent sales.

Let's talk
Arrange your personal
demo call to find out more.

TREND REPORT 2017

Contents
Author's note 4

Responsible and sustainable tourism 5

Millennials lead the way 8

The boom of seniors travel 11

More females taking on solo travel 13

Asian outbound markets continue to soar 15

Experiential travel and a search for the authentic 17

The new wave of family vacations 19

We're all searching for our next adventure 21

Remote working and digital nomadism 23

Travel photography in the Digital Age 25

Is “Bleisure“ really a thing? 27

Food tourism: judging a destination by its dishes 30

Maturing online travel market 32

Offline experiences: the hallmark of experts 34

The wellness trend: time to reflect 37

Be authentic, unique and personal 39

we hope it delivers. and draw on some of our own research to provide you with unique insights and opinions. operators can make strategic choices to double down on strengths. we’ve put together a more comprehensive and extensive report for 2017. it’s vital to stay in touch with shifts and progressions in the travel sector. we make it our goal to facilitate strategic decisions of tour and activity companies the best way we know how . TREND REPORT 2017 Authors’ note We work in a rapidly-changing industry and as a tour and activity operator. Lucy Fuggle Nicole Kow Sara Burkhard
 @lrfuggle @queenkow @ @SarainKingdom . We delve deeper into trends mentioned in almost every other article online. And as with all of our content and resources. By understanding the coming year’s trends. Following the success we’ve had with our 2016 Trends Report. while also given the opportunity to pivot towards rising markets and booking channels. At TrekkSoft.by providing tour and activity businesses the facts and figures through well researched reports and year-round blog content.

we’d like to share some findings we’ve uncovered in our latest survey. TREND REPORT 2017 What are most travellers seeking in your destination? To kickstart this report. Unexplored destinations Trending destinations Bucket list destinations Get out of comfort zone Close-to-home travel Business travel 6 . We interviewed a total of 145 companies asking them what customer behaviours they’ve observed from visitors at their destination.

7 . TREND REPORT 2017 These results provide insights into what motivates customers to book a trip to a specific destination.
 As we explore other trends in this report. you will find that many of them reflect this deep desire in 21st century travellers to create new and authentic memories that resonate with their motivation to explore and uncover novel experiences. helping companies package and deliver their services to better meet these desires.

Taleb Rifai. 8 . industry professionals should expect a shift in the mindset of travellers. while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued”. according to UNWTO Secretary-General. TREND REPORT 2017 Responsible and sustainable tourism by Nicole Kow 2017 has been appointed by the UN as “The International Year of Sustainable Tourism”. "the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic. With global campaigns set in place to promote more sustainable and socially conscious forms of travel. aiming to promote. social and environmental.

TREND REPORT 2017 In 2017. Expect the following travel behaviour in coming years: • Travelling closer to home to reduce carbon footprint • Choosing companies with a strong social focus • Growing interest in voluntourism programmes that leave a long-term positive impact • Homestays gaining more interest than traditional hotels or bed and breakfasts If your company focuses on sustainable tourism and you have a strong awareness of the impact you’re making. travellers will be more interested in the environmental. this is great news for you. 9 . Use this as a defining factor in your branding and set yourself apart from others in your industry. economic and social impact they have on the destinations they visit and are likely to support companies that embody these values.

TREND REPORT 2017 You can also work to get a certification from The International Ecotourism Society or a local reputable body. this is a great time to partner with a charity or conservation organisation. it is authenticity that sells. The key is to be authentic and genuine about the causes you support because at the end of the day. 10 . If you’ve always been interested in incorporating a social aspect into your company.

while online reviews and user-generated content on social media are part of the research process for most millennials. As the largest generation to date. they are helping to define what the major trends and tastes of the coming decades will be. Millennials have grown up in the Digital Age. TREND REPORT 2017 Millennials lead the way by Sara Burkhard Millennials are one of the most important demographics in travel today. so it’s important to make this a part of their travel experiences. 11 . Online booking options are crucial.

Why it's an important trend: Millennials are the largest generation to date. TREND REPORT 2017 Most millennials are looking for: • Full cultural immersion through cuisine. and activities.from the opportunity to connect through mobile experiences or engage face-to-face. • Choices . and the largest market in travel in 2017. • The ability to make a business trip into leisure travel (or vice-versa). millennials want options and flexibility. to an assortment of amenities packages. 12 . local hotspots.

13 . these are especially sought-after among this market. with most preferring to use a mobile site or app. Many millennials want to book independently. • Highlight authentic experiences. • Understand that advertising has less effect on these travelers than user-generated content or recommendations from friends and family. TREND REPORT 2017 Operators who want to attract millennial travelers should: • Make their online presence a priority.

TREND REPORT 2017 The boom of seniors travel by Sara Burkhard Baby boomers. According to AARP. Bucket list experiences are the high-ranking motivator for travel among boomers. 99% of boomers will take at least one trip in 2017 for leisure. The group born between 1946 and 1964 is ready to go out and see the world. with some taking as many as five. A majority of travel is expected to occur between spring and summer months. regardless of destination. meaning they’re looking to invest in activities rather than simply relaxation. 14 . or simply boomers. are traveling now more than ever.

• Offer good value. Operators who want to engage with boomers should: • Make their experiences easily accessible and straightforward. TREND REPORT 2017 Most boomers are looking for: • Bucket list experiences • Hassle-free. and more about enjoying their lives. as budget can be a factor for those with a fixed income. cleanliness and value Why it's important: Boomers are at an age where they’re less concerned about career and family responsibilities. 15 . • Give experiences that are authentic and high-quality. Boomers know what they want. convenient experiences • Safety.

com found that 72% of American women embarked on a solo adventure and usually take three or more trips a year. Meanwhile other reports have found a 230% increase in the number of women-only travel companies in 2016. Female solo travellers want to embrace new and raw experiences. In 2014. TREND REPORT 2017 More females taking on solo travel by Nicole Kow Solo female travel is on the rise with women driving the solo travel boom. not the typical 5-star hotel and spa we see in advertisements. Booking. 16 .

17 . Facilitate opportunities for your customers to break the ice and get to know one another. • Provide platforms for solo female travellers to meet one another . Tour and activity operators need to embrace this growing market or they risk losing a large portion of their clientele. Here’s what operators can do: • Get more women to review your tours or activities . TREND REPORT 2017 While some companies are gearing their products towards this trend.If there’s anything more empowering than travelling as a solo female. • Create safer environments for your female customers . it is meeting others and sharing stories. so do what you can to create a safety net for your female customers. there is a thick line between gimmicky marketing that reinforces gender stereotypes and genuine experiences for solo female travel.Word of mouth marketing is the best tool for you to attract more women to your tours.A major concern for female travellers is safety.

TREND REPORT 2017 Asian outbound markets continue to soar by Nicole Kow No trend report would be complete without mentioning the incredible growth from Asian outbound markets. South Korea came in behind China with an 11% growth. This growth outpaced European outbound markets that grew by a meagre 2. For 2016. However. This growth in Asia’s outbound market was especially spurred by Chinese travellers. 18 .1% growth in outbound travellers from the region. experts predicted a 6.5% according to the World Travel Monitor. that figure hit 11% by August. with a growth of 18% in outbound trips.

To entice customers from the Asian market. While a majority of these outbound trips are taken within Asia. there was an 11% increase in trips taken to America while Europe saw a 1% dip. 19 . tour and activity operators need to: • Tweak their offerings to suit inexperienced markets. • Bundle your products to create a “full experience” package to make booking easy for customers. Unlike their Western counterparts. TREND REPORT 2017 For 2017. • Translate your content and hire guides who can carry out tours and activities in the relevant languages. 6% growth is expected from Asian outbound markets. They may require more guidance to fully appreciate these. many Asian travellers have less experience and exposure to activities such as wintersports.

This style of travel isn't limited to perennially popular destinations either. 20 . experiential travel isn’t just for those who can afford the price tag. TREND REPORT 2017 Experiential travel and a search for the authentic by Lucy Fuggle Experiential travel is about connecting to the history. people and culture of a destination. travellers are increasingly heading off the beaten track. local and authentic. The United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts that tourism in emerging economies will grow to 57% of the global market by 2030. A big driver behind this? The search for the new. an increase from 47% in 2010. While Virtuoso predicts that luxury travelers in 2017 will be “craving customized local experiences wherever they roam”.

unique. • Show how an experience is authentic with inspiring visual content. TrekkSoft can give you the tools to power this. TREND REPORT 2017 The task for tour operators is to understand how a travel experience can truly change us and provide customers with a new. don’t just say it is. • Partner up and cross-sell with a network of local operators who share their experiential focus. and authentic way to understand our world. Operators who want to attract experiential travellers should: • Offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences that teach travellers something about themselves. 21 .

As families are living further away geographically. MMYG and Preferred Hotel Group conducted a study revealing that 40% of leisure travelers have taken at least one such trip in the last year. 22 . Defined as a trip that includes three or more generations. The millennial will often conduct the research. while the boomer handles the finances. The trend seems to rely heavily on the cooperation of millennials and boomers. good value for money is a big factor in the booking process. these trips create the best opportunities to spend quality time together. it’s recently started to increase in popularity among all travelers. TREND REPORT 2017 The new wave of family vacations by Sara Burkhard Multigenerational travel has been a reoccurring theme among luxury travelers for several years. For this reason.

such as family photographs. 23 . TREND REPORT 2017 Most multigenerational travelers are looking for: • Opportunities to spend time and make memories with each other • A place they have never experienced before • A relaxing or beach experience • A chance to eat unique cuisine Why it's important: Families are looking for opportunities to create memories together. Memories are a far greater souvenir than purchases for these groups. • Try to create opportunities to capture momentos of time spent together. Most multigenerational travelers are looking for the best value. Operators who want to entice these travelers should: • Offer discounts and group rates. • Make the experiences as convenient as possible for all ages and abilities.

Experiences that are customized for individuals are also especially sought- after. ATTA’s Industry Snapshot suggests that customer demographics for adventure travel skew slightly female (53% to 47%). especially in terms of "softer" adventures such as a safari. In fact. TREND REPORT 2017 We’re all searching for our next adventure by Lucy Fuggle Active and adventure trips are growing in popularity across demographics. hiking experience. or once- in-a-lifetime water sport. Adventure trips are by no means just for the middle- aged male traveller. 24 .

the home of the qajaq. opportunities to delve deeper into a destination’s culture are also expected to be stand-out choices (see our deep dive into experiential travel on page 15). 25 . Think a small-group kayaking trip with a local guide in Greenland. To increase sales in 2017. you instantly strengthen these main channels. TREND REPORT 2017 For 2017. With a booking engine like TrekkSoft. As an adventure operator. make an effort to strengthen your offline sales channels as it remains powerful for adventure and outdoors operators. you need to strengthen both your online and offline distribution channels to appeal to the range of customers interested in your activities.

This urge to move. giving them the freedom to become locaVon independent. as oWen as once every 3 months. with many opVng to go freelance. 26 . and not be rooted to a single locaVon has also fuelled the growing trend of co-living and co-working spaces. where customers pay according to how much Vme they spend in these hybrid spaces. build an online business or work remotely for companies that allow it. TREND REPORT 2017 Remote working and digital nomadism by Nicole Kow Remote working is the new millennial dream and many are embracing digital nomadism to fuel long-term travel. 21st century workers celebrate flexibility.

27 . If you don’t. TREND REPORT 2017 Digital nomads also tend to “set up their base” in cheaper destinations with a strong digital infrastructure like Bali and Ho Chi Minh. Bear in mind that digital nomads are mostly seasoned travellers and tend to stay away from touristy trips and attraction. With digital nomadism comes the luxury of slow travel. If the experience you provide is incredible. For tour and activity operators. giving you a lot of valuable word of mouth marketing. they might air their frustrations online too. where travellers get to explore a destination in-depth and build relationships with the local community. you can guarantee that these digital nomads will shout about it on their blogs and social media channels. this trend presents both opportunities and threats to your business. Maintain your personal and authentic approach to keep attracting this target market.

• Wanting to document their travel memories as they’re taking place. Since the invention of cameras. While film and the old Polaroid are less standard these days. • Finding a community in platforms like Instagram. Most mobile photography travelers are: • Looking to share their experiences with loved ones back home. Unique travel experiences have a way of connecting those who would otherwise only share the experience within their own circle. tourism has gone hand-in-hand with photography. 28 . TREND REPORT 2017 Travel photography in the Digital Age by Sara Burkhard This trend should come as no surprise to any tour and activity operator. most travelers have found an all-in-one way to capture their experiences through mobile photography.

Look for opportunities for both. But remember. Learn more social media tips and tricks with our free ebook. and connect with your other customers. If your activity isn’t ideal for mobile phones (i. river tours. This way travelers can build hype around the experiences on your tour. this generation wants to see both iconic and unique locations. • Create a unique hashtag for your business. TREND REPORT 2017 Why it's important: Mobile photography is perfect for social media marketing and producing user-generated content. give you some free marketing.e. • Encourage photos where it is safe and possible. 29 . work a location into the day for these opportunities. surf camp). Operators who want to benefit from mobile travel photography should: • Look for areas within your tour that would make great photos.

com reports that 49% of business travellers already take bleisure trips. while CWT Solutions Group reports a much lower figure of 20%. the less likely they are to take a bleisure trip. TREND REPORT 2017 Is “Bleisure” really a thing? by Nicole Kow Business and leisure travel lines are blurring. Some basic facts and figures about the trend: • Female travellers are more likely to take bleisure trips. with many opting to take a few days surrounding a business trip to explore a destination. 30 . • The more one travels for business. While many are claiming this to be the “next big trend”. • Booking. regardless of how many trips they take for work. I’m skeptical about its potential to benefit tour and activity operators. • Only 7% of all business trips have a leisure element tacked on.

• Intercontinental trips are three times more likely to turn into a bleisure trip compared to domestic trips. how much can these travellers really afford for in- destination activities? 31 . Even industry researchers don't seem too sure about what “bleisure” really entails.3% in this time. the numbers have barely budged between 2011 and 2015.com claims that 30% of travellers are willing to take a lower paying job if they get the opportunity to travel more. Reasons for skepticism: • According to the CWT Solutions Group. with bleisure rates increasing by only 0. • The numbers quoted in trend articles and research reports differ significantly based on the definition of “bleisure”. 20% of trips have leisure occurring at both ends of the trip. • Booking. But without the additional income. TREND REPORT 2017 More facts: • 46% of bleisure trips have the leisure component at the end of the trip while 34% of them have the leisure component at the beginning.

32 . TREND REPORT 2017 Even if “Bleisure” does become a booming trend in 2017. business travellers are busy and more likely to have prior commitments to fulfil back at the office or at home. It is also unlikely that business travellers will be able to afford to stay in the accommodation arranged by their companies or pay for the additional nights. meaning that they would have to look for cheaper accommodation if they intend to extend their stay. More often than not. At the end of the day. the chances of tour and activity operators benefiting from it seems unlikely. the added effort and cost usually outweighs the temptation of taking a few additional leisure days off.

cooking lessons. TREND REPORT 2017 Food tourism: judging a destination by its dishes by Lucy Fuggle Food has always been a huge part of travel. tasting sessions. 33 . Food is closely bound to the experiential travel trend: how better to immerse ourselves in a culture and experience a local way of life? It’s worth emphasising that "food experiences" don’t exclusively refer to "dining out": At TouRRoir 2016. and visits to farms or vineyards now make up 95% of all food experiences. Skift UK Editor Patrick Whyte explained that food markets. the global event for food tourism. but seeking out authentic food experiences has increasingly become a motivator for travel.

Stories connect products with people and the traditions of a destination. but especially the "dreaming stage" when someone first comes into contact with your company. don't forget about your story. 34 . It's important to develop a social media strategy that’s rich in visual content: this will reinforce every stage of the travel customer buyer journey. Tour operators: whatever you do. TREND REPORT 2017 For food tour operators. storytelling is an important part of both the experience itself and your marketing strategy.

44% of travellers already expect to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple taps of their smart phone. over half (52%) expect their use of travel apps to increase in 2017. According to Booking. TREND REPORT 2017 Spontaneity and impatience by Nicole Kow As more and more travellers get used to booking trips.com. tours and activities online. Moreover. What does this have to do with tour and activity operators? 35 . what does a maturing travel market expect from tour and activity businesses? Spontaneity and impatience: To be able to book a trip whenever they want. to anywhere in the world. with fewer mouse clicks and keyboard taps.

Facebook Ads and Instagram advertising. Remember that the customer experience begins as soon as someone finds you on Google. 36 . TREND REPORT 2017 This convenience will soon be expected of tour and activity providers and they are likely to experience an influx of spontaneous bookings as well. Here are some things you can do to improve the overall customer experience: • Make it as easy as possible for people to find you online. • Entice customers to book by using great visuals and optimising your “book now” buttons. • Make it even easier for customers to enjoy a hassle-free trip by offering online booking and payment. You can change the text on these buttons or experiment with their placement on your webpage. send personalised confirmation emails to enhance your first interactions. Work on your SEO and experiment with Google AdWords. not just when they arrive for your tour. Also.

In fact. 94% of travelers will switch between their mobile device and computer as they plan or book a trip. 37 . TREND REPORT 2017 Offline experiences: the hallmark of experts by Sara Burkhard There is a lot of research that goes into travel these days. According to a recent Traveler Attribution Study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions. This creates an opportunity for activity experts to engage with customers in offline experiences. travelers have so many choices that booking has become complicated. however more than half (69%) worry they're not finding the best prices and making the best decision. most travelers visit up to 38 websites before they book.

• Authenticity .More personal experiences. • Convenience . putting a face and a voice to their interactions. Most people in search of offline experiences desire: • Spontaneity . 38 . TREND REPORT 2017 Travelers under the age of 45 are 70% more likely to purchase travel packages. which often require consultation of some type. these travelers like the option of seeing an activity and participating on a whim. This is an opportunity for tour and activity operators to engage with travelers face-to- face and sell packages directly to them.An opportunity to discuss the trip they wish to take with an expert.Since many trips are heavily researched beforehand.

TREND REPORT 2017 Why it's important: Word of mouth marketing develops best in the authentic and offline interactions. Spontaneity has become an important part of the tourism experience. Ways operators can benefit from offline experiences & booking: • Be up to date with your software and systems. 39 . Create a space where travelers can engage and feel like they’re speaking to an expert about their travel plans. • Make the offline booking process simple. Having a good point of sale (POS) system is vital so customers can book on a whim.

com found that found that 2 out of 5 people are interested in a health and well-being travel experience and about half (48%) intend to use their holiday time to “reflect and make better life choices”. Tour and activity companies who run wellness programmes have a busy year to look forward to. From emotional healing and detox to zen adrenaline holidays. TREND REPORT 2017 Time to reflect by Nicole Kow Wellness retreats that take care of the mind. unwind and recharge holistically. travellers are looking for unique ways to relax. but have only recently started to trend thanks to the booming interest in adopting a healthy lifestyle. 40 . Booking. body and soul have existed for years.

think about diversifying your product line to cater to niche interests and even offer packages. • Attract socially conscious customers to your programmes with an eco-friendly offering. • Include a social element in your offerings. TREND REPORT 2017 Here are a few ways to make the most of the trend: • If you already have wellness products that work well. You can develop programmes for local companies to bring wellness into the workplace. • Expand locally to maintain a steady stream of business all year. 41 . Allow customers to participate in groups and create opportunities for them to connect with likeminded people.

42 . unique and personal At the end of the day. the three things travellers are looking for are authentic. TREND REPORT 2017 Be authentic. tour and activity providers need to always keep these three experiences in mind -.figuring out how to tweak products and services to consistently deliver opportunities to satisfy these desires. To stay ahead and competitive. unique. and personalised experiences. The trends we’ve talked about are mere manifestations of these three core desires that drive people to explore the world.

» BE READY FOR ALL BOOKINGS and make 2017 your best year yet Grow your business with TrekkSoft’s booking software loaded with valuable features including a website builder. Let's talk Arrange your personal demo call to find out more. and booking desk for agent sales. channel manager. .