The world is changing faster than ever before, and travel trends are changing with it. Whether it’s the no-planers bringing back train travel or adventurous spirits searching for experiences rather than relaxation, what it means to travel has fundamentally shifted.
This hasn’t just impacted tourists. Business travel trends have been fundamentally altered by the digital nomad lifestyle. No longer tied to their office desk, remote workers are increasingly taking “workations” and locating to their dream destinations for short stays. Instead of trying to get away from it all, some workers are taking everything with them.
All of that is just today’s travel industry trends, but what about the future? We’ve come together and taken a hard look at where the travel industry is today and tried to discern six bold predictions for the future of travel.
- The travel industry was forced to adapt after COVID and will be impacted long-term by climate change, changes in work-life balance, and people’s desire for digital experiences.
- There will be changes to the way we travel and who we travel with, as well as what we consider to be a vacation.
- Travel advertising will also have to adapt to fit the needs of future travelers. Brands that are in tune with travel trends will be best placed to take advantage of opportunities.
Table of Contents
- Why are new travel trends emerging so quickly?
- Virtual tours before booking trips
- Staffless hotels and other new services and features
- The AR Concierge
- High-Speed Travel
- Solo travel and workations
- Sustainable travel
- Ad campaigns that really fly
Why are new travel trends emerging so quickly?
Travel has always been a very dynamic industry, prone to sudden changes. For example, with the rise of low-cost airlines in Europe, the once beloved “all-inclusive” holiday was slowly replaced by the weekend trip. People stopped seeking an experience handed to them on a silver platter and instead wanted a personalized experience for their trips.
Now, once again, global travel trends are being severely disrupted. Demand was heavily suppressed during COVID-19 and bounced back with a vengeance as lockdowns were lifted. This came along with some different demands from travelers. Many began to seek out longer, more exotic trips with a focus on flexibility and sustainability. These factors have led to significantly different travel trends and new opportunities for travelers and travel marketers alike.
Let’s take a quick dive into some of the top travel trends and what they could mean for your holiday.
Virtual tours before booking trips
With virtual reality and the metaverse, users aren’t limited to just seeing static images or videos of potential holiday destinations. They will be able to visit your hotel, spa, or even campsite in 3D. They can explore the facilities and make sure that it is the absolute best place to spend their time and money.
Online ad campaigns of the future will tap into this travel trend. When a user is still in the “dreaming” phase and not yet ready to commit to a booking, they can be redirected to a virtual tour rather than a conversion page. You can even use some of those images to create a 3D walkthrough for users without VR headsets.
You can also add elements of gamification to this. In the metaverse of the VR experience, you might hide discount codes or goodies for users. Why not hide promo codes around your virtual tour and offer a 5% discount to anyone who finds a code and books within 48 hours?
Staffless hotels and other new services and features
We are already seeing specific business travel trends like staffless hotels, self-check-in, and click-and-collect on-site services. Automation is often used as a cost-reduction mechanism, and those savings are usually passed on to the customer. However, it is not only about the bottom line. Different guests want different levels of experience, and that range is growing every day.
In the future, there will be many levels of service within each type of accommodation. People may be able to choose the staffed or staffless experience within one resort or location—just as they will be able to choose alcohol-free, meat-free, smoke-free, and child-free options.
These options will become decision triggers for many travelers and will be reflected in your online ads. Effective ads will allow people to search all of these preferences. Search Box Ads will evolve to include staffed or staffless, vegan or meat-eater, giving people the opportunity to find hotels that cater to all of their preferences straight from the online ad.
The AR Concierge
In the future, when people arrive at a hotel, rather than asking at the front desk for information, everything they need to know might be from an AR concierge. After putting on a headset, holiday-makers will be able to explore the hotel and its facilities, as well as the local town. They will also be able to ask for recommendations and book meals, trips, and services.
On top of the cost of the room, hotels make money on meals, paid services, and organized excursions. They might also earn commissions from partnerships with local businesses, such as restaurants or taxi firms, and other large firms, like insurers and car rental companies. Each of these companies may pay to have ads featured in the recommendations made by the AR concierge and also pay a premium to have more prominent or frequent placements. It’s a win-win-win with benefits for the hotel, the business advertising on the platform, and for travelers who need information and trusted recommendations.
We’re a long way off from flying cars—especially ones that can be used for international travel. However, there are some technological advancements that could revolutionize domestic and some cross-border travel. Bullet trains are already realistic and are getting even faster. By 2027, the new Maglev Shinkansen line will be operational and link Tokyo and Osaka by 2037, with trains traveling at top speeds exceeding 500 km/h. China already has the most extensive high-speed railway (HSR) network in work, with over 1.7 B annual journeys taken on over 29,000 kilometers of track. HSR will also cut travel times between many major European cities.
However, for the very fastest form of futuristic travel, we might be taking trips on a hyperloop. The idea has been around since the late 18th century, but some big statements from Elon Musk a decade ago brought the idea closer to reality. Helsinki to Stockholm in 30 minutes; Mumbai to Pune in 20 minutes; traveling in 7-foot-long passenger pods at around 1,200 km/h.
If hyperloops do make it out of the theoretical phase and actually get built, they could have a huge impact on domestic travel. In France, for example, it is around an 8-hour drive from Paris to Marseille on the Cote D’Azur, or a 4-hour train ride. If that 770 km trip changes into a 40-minute hyperloop ride, per a recent proposal, then domestic holidays become much more appealing. This will be reflected in offers from OTAs and hotels.
Solo travel and workations
One existing trend is the rise in people seeing the world alone. 25% of American millennials plan to travel alone each year, and that number is not dependent on the pandemic, as solo trips had increased by 42% prior to 2020.
Another growing trend, particularly for young singles, is the “workation” or even an extended stay abroad. No longer tied to the office and able to work anywhere with an internet connection, the traditional idea of a “year working abroad” will evolve in the future. It will no longer mean a year pouring beers in a city center bar or picking strawberries, and will rather be a year building web frontends in Python while sitting in a café in Bali.
Travel companies will find new opportunities as solo travel grows and as work continues to change. As well as beach resorts and hotels, travel companies might build coworking spaces in paradise, with all the necessary facilities for young professionals to stay for several weeks or months at a time. They will then assess people browsing for work abroad opportunities and target them with programmatic ads.
If we are looking at futuristic travel, we also have to face some hard truths. Simply put, there is no bright future for the travel industry without more sustainable initiatives. Travel is not solely to blame for the climate crisis, but it is a major contributor and, like all other elements of our lives, the status quo is not going to work in the long term.
OTAs are already taking the situation seriously, and some are being proactive. Trip.com published its first Sustainable Travel Report in 2022, looking at changing customer expectations and asking questions from how we can preserve local habits in tourist hotspots to who is ultimately responsible for bringing about a major change.
It is important to note that there is an appetite for sustainability initiatives. Over 50% of respondents felt that OTAs could clearly label sustainable travel options, and 41% wanted it to be easier to find such options online. This will become a key part of messaging in travel advertising in the future, with businesses letting users know about more ecologically sound travel options right there in the online ad.
Ad campaigns that really fly
We’re looking at the future of travel and online advertising in this article. But it is only one element of the big questions we are asking. You can read more from our in-house travel industry experts in these articles:
- The Travel Marketer’s Guide to Modern Digital Marketing
- How OTA can use their advertising budget smartly
If you want to read more about our campaigns for travel brands, check out the Travel Industry Page on our RTB House website. See examples of our success, find out what makes our ad campaigns really fly, and get in touch with our experts.