Are you excited about the turn of a new decade? We are already counting down the days here at mr.h, but before we get ourselves into full celebration mode, we thought we’d share a few striking travel trends as well as notable societal and behavioural shifts that should not be ignored in the new year.
While off-peak, solo and sustainable travel have long been on the radar, there are a number of new priorities on the rise in the travel community that you, and your marketing and content strategy team, should be familiar with and capitalising on in the upcoming year. We’ve listed several top tips below.
1. Staycation Market Growth
The staycation first came to prominence during the 2007-10 financial crisis as a means of enjoying a cost-effective break, but recently the ‘holistay’ has become increasingly popular with environmentally-responsible travellers. As LS:N Global reports, ‘with carbon emissions at the forefront of travellers’ minds, a resurgence of the domestic travel market is growing again and the high-end staycation is emerging.
The trend is especially palpable in the UK, with almost half of Britons more likely to holiday in the UK rather than the EU after Brexit. While the weakening of the pound worries holidaymakers, this is good news for businesses that offer UK staycations!
2. Micro Adventures
Time is money and with the lack of both these resources, travellers are now making use of smaller-scale, more achievable adventures within one’s home country or closer European destinations.
Day trips are becoming a thriving travel trend among sparing Millennials, and few places beckon Londoners away from the buzzing capital like the pebbled beaches and colourful seaside cottages of Kent.
Popular ‘daycation’ experiences also include adventures in cities, such as London, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam, and these can vary from boat and helicopter trips to kayaking and paddleboarding tours.
3. Luxury, ‘hard’ adventure tourism
Modern life can be wearisome with busy city-life becoming increasingly claustrophobic and demanding. To escape these pressures, more and more people have turned to transformative adventures in nature as a means of escape.
In the past couple of years, the term “transformation” has been often used to describe what consumers seek from the goods and services they buy. But a huge societal shift characterised by prioritising experiences over products is what has made adventure travel so in vogue.
A study conducted by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) found that adventure travellers are driven by the desire for personal growth and expanding horizons when planning a holiday. Similarly, National Geographic points out that today’s travellers are looking for eye-opening trips that reinvigorate, jolt us out of a numbed state and send us home as improved versions of ourselves.
While this all may seem like a whim typical to Millenials, the ATTA findings reveal that 43% of adventure travel tour operator clients are actually between the ages of 51-70, and the average age of the adventure traveller is 49 years old! In its recent report, LS:N Global also pinpoints that affluent consumers are swapping safaris and skiing for extreme outdoor experiences, turning to luxury brands to help boost their resilience.
No wonder businesses offering extreme mountain climbing and air sports experiences continue to emerge and prosper.
We have all heard of off-the-beaten-track getaways taken by tourists who are craving less-trodden paths or visiting destinations outside of the peak season, but there’s also an entirely new tribe of consumer: the undertourist. This group seek out destinations that do not suffer from overtourism and have potentially been knocked off the tourist map after economic issues, natural disasters, political tension, or ongoing armed conflicts; the latter often lacking a tourist industry.
Though this form of tourism should not be confused with ‘dark tourism’, which is motivated by a fascination/interest in death and refers to travelling to sites associated with death, whether individual, mass, violent, natural, untimely or otherwise.
Showing entirely new attitudes to travel, the under-the-radar destinations are visited for humanitarian, political, cultural exchange or enlightening purposes, as in the case of some travel bloggers who report on the living standards of third world countries to their audience.
Examples include taking an authentic The Trans-Siberian Express journey—the world’s longest train route connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East— traversed by adventurous tourists who crave an authentic cultural immersion, trips to ex-Soviet and politically restrictive countries, such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, or visiting highly dangerous corners of the world like Somalia.
An issue that was first raised as early as the 1970s is overtourism—describing the excessive and consequently negative impact visitors have on a destination.
Although directly related to the high volume of visitors and often observed in locations where tourism grows rapidly, overtourism should not be confused with ‘too many tourists’. It relates to the consequences of too much tourism, such as unaffordable rent prices for locals, permanent changes to residents’ lifestyles during seasonal peaks, access to and the state of amenities and public places, and general well-being, as explained on The Conversation.
One of the most striking causes of overtourism to many tourism-dependent destinations is that the unique sense of place which characterises their home towns—also known as ‘authenticity’— is vanishing beneath a wave of souvenir shops, crowds, tour buses and rowdy bars.
As a result, governmental authorities of popular destinations are faced with the challenge to preserve the uniqueness of a place and to save it from the physical and cultural damage stemming from excessive tourism. For example, the Dutch government has announced it will overhaul its international branding strategy, dropping the name “Holland” and replacing it with "the Netherlands", the country’s real name, writes the Telegraph, highlighting minor and major changes being rolled out by communities pushing to maintain their heritage.
The Netherland’s foreign affairs spokeswoman said the rebrand would modernise the image of the Netherlands, presenting it as an “open, inventive and inclusive” country. It is an effort to move away from undesirable associations with Amsterdam’s Red Light District and the country’s famous cannabis cafes. It is also hoped the new approach will encourage tourists to visit other areas of the country than just Amsterdam. Who’s next to rebrand itself?
As we have just seen...
The world doesn’t stand still and nor does the travel sector. Every year new trends are infiltrating the industry, which we here at mr.h closely monitor to provide the most relevant positioning, destination and experience marketing solutions for our clients.
If you are looking to reclaim the heritage of a destination, or wish to consult about the latest marketing trends, be sure to drop us a line here.
Kristina Sikorskaja is a creative content strategist at mr.h, a multi-disciplinary advertising and marketing agency that specialises in the travel and luxury sectors. www.mrh.london