Skift released (Skift Magazine, Issue 12) earlier this month. Through surveys, interviews, and focus group research with the travelers throughout the year, Skift reveals 12 megatrends in travel and tourism.
Brands give travelers more control over their experience
The advancement of technology enables travelers to take more controls on their trips than before. It is now very common for travelers to plan their own trips through price alerts and location-based apps.
The word “co-creation” also becomes another emerging buzz word for experiential products. “Creation is the new consumption.” The challenge for tourism companies is to find effective ways to engage travelers before, during, and even after they consume the experiential products.
Premium mediocre goes mainstream
Companies re-package the average products and sell them at luxury prices. From airlines to hotels, travel companies collect extra fees from the new premium services they offer (e.g., premium economy seats in the economy cabin of an airplane).
Travel upselling gets smarter than ever
Upselling is not a new practice for companies to lure their customers to spend more for better alternatives. Companies are now adopting more sophisticated technology to achieve that goal more effectively.
“Travel brands find they’re more successful at upselling when they show only a few offers that match customers’ likely interests,” and mining the customer data will help. For example, hotels and airlines may send promotional e-mails to travelers before a trip, encouraging them to purchase an upgrade or add additional services to their existing reservation. In a different scenario, every product attribute can come with a price tag through “attribute-based booking.” An ocean-view room, for example, can sell for a higher price as compared to a garden-view room.
Everything is converging in hospitality
“This is the year the hospitality industry starts seeing itself the same way its guests do.” The line that separates short-term residential rentals, hostels, to hotels is getting to blur. For instance, Airbnb recently debuted two brands – Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb to attract the travelers who usually stay in hotels. More hostels added luxury touches and had become more than just another cheap alternative for travelers. Hotel chains, including Marriott, are getting into the room-sharing business too.
Under-tourism is the new over-tourism
As people become well aware of the negative impacts from over-tourism, “under-tourism” becomes a new collective consciousness. “Offbeat destinations or those with new stories to tell are marketing immersive experiences that build a relationship with people, places, culture, and community over Instagram-worthy photo ops and mass touring.”
Online travel agencies (OTAs) scurry for salvation beyond hotels
Over the decades, OTAs’ business was largely built upon hotel and airline sales. Now, other sales, such as food, activities, rides, and even short-term residential rentals have become more important in their business and to their customers.
Low-cost carriers lose their luster
Budget or low-cost airlines have proven to be very successful in short-haul flights, but that is not the case yet in long-haul flights. While the traditional operators, such as Singapore Airlines, can divide an airplane for a long-haul route into various cabins, including first (or suite), business, premium economy, economy, and even basic economy, budget airlines usually offer only two products --- premium economy and basic economy. With only two groups of target customers, budget airlines are not as flexible in developing the right product-service mix or even the effective pricing strategies for its target customers.
Consolidation creates travel brand bullies
There are many mergers and acquisitions in the airline and lodging industry; even loyalty programs are getting bigger to attract more customers. Other tourism companies, such as OTAs, are also getting bigger to remain competitive against hotels and Airbnb. Travelers seem to have no choice but to accept the changes.
Wellness is the new hook in travel marketing
Wellness is taking over. Travelers want to stay healthy and active during a trip. They also demand more sustainable products, in addition to more sustainable options for food.
Travel loyalty is overdue for disruption
We have seen many changes in hotels’ and airlines’ loyalty programs, but many travelers still find most loyalty program too complicated or not inspiring at all.
“To survive, tomorrow’s loyalty programs will need much more than blockchain --- they’ll need true disruption.”
Labor shortages force a wakeup call for travel brands to treat worker better
Ideally, every service provider wants to provide impeccable service with well-trained, friendly staff. Yet, every company is facing the challenges from a labor shortage and the rising labor cost. Will machines or robots be the solutions then?
Real-world experiences gain value in an era of tech burnout
Technological innovations take place not only at the business level but also in many metropolitan areas. Operators must acknowledge the dangers of tech overload; Travelers must find a balance too. A relevant recent update is the world’s first robot hotel in Japan recently fired most of its “annoying” robotic staff based on customer feedback.
What do you think of the above 12 megatrends? Do they give you something to look forward to in 2019?