What can holidaymakers and business travellers expect to experience in 2017? Here are eight developments the experts say we can expect to see.
Inspired by a wealth of data, traveller endorsements, reviews, preferences and insights – as well as industry leading understanding and innovation in e-commerce travel technology – the experts at Booking.com shed light on eight major travel predictions for 2017.
- Instant Gratification 2.0
Technology is fuelling a more demanding and impatient traveller. 44% of travellers already expect to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple taps of their smart phone and over half (52%) expect their use of travel apps to increase in 2017.
With this, we’re increasingly looking to technology to eradicate any and all on-the-road niggles, deliver answers to our specific needs in the moment and enhance our experience with recommendations and short-cuts we haven’t even thought of. The coming year will see this expectation addressed in an unprecedented way. From finding the nearest ATM or available Wi-Fi to queue jumping at top attractions and getting on-the-go advice on how to get over jetlag, meaningful functionality in palm-based technology will abound.
And with all of the exciting new developments in machine learning and AI, our favourite go-to apps will go beyond mere functionality and evolve into real companions—travel besties, if you will, capable of predicting our own unique needs and catering to them before we even have to ask. Use of smart, instant message technology that moulds to our preferences to solve every question and wish in real-time, regardless of where we choose to stay, will become second nature. Seamless assistance at your fingertips.
- Getting to Business
The ‘bleisure’ boom is well and truly underway, and 2017 will see a further upswing not only in the blurring lines between leisure and business travel, but in the value we attach to workplace travel opportunities. Of the 40% of global travellers who journeyed for business this year, 46% think they will travel even more for business in 2017. More than business suites and PowerPoint presentations, 49% of business travellers already extend their business trips to further enjoy the destination, while three quarters (75%) intend to do so the same or more in the coming year.
No longer seen as lost time or a career inconvenience, business travel is increasingly appreciated as an opportunity to expand horizons, find inspiration and progress in a career. So much so that 30% of travellers would even accept a lower paid job if it meant they could travel more for work!
- Appetite to Discover
The discovered world has many undiscovered places and 2017 promises to see travellers unleashing their inner explorer like never before. 45% plan to be more adventurous in their choice of destination in the coming year, while 47% would like to explore corners of the globe that none of their friends have been to. Whether it’s trekking into a remote mountain village or finding a gem of a guest house on the other side of tracks, we’re seeing evidence all round of an ever-growing appetite to embrace undiscovered environments in an authentic way.
56% of travellers would like to do more independent travel in 2017, a trend particularly prevalent amongst those from Brazil, India, the United States, China and Thailand. Top destinations where Australians can indulge their pioneering spirit include Faroe Islands, Guatemala, Chile, Canada and Myanmar.
- Mind, Body and Soul
In a hectic world, people are increasingly seeing travel as a way to bring balance back into their lives. Almost half (48%) see going on holiday as a moment to reflect and make better lifestyle choices. The coming year will see many travellers prioritising health conscious trips that promise harmony for the mind, body and soul – particularly those from India, China and Thailand. 44% are interested to experience spa/relaxation travel and 38% in a health/wellbeing travel experience in 2017. The days of leaving paid holidays on the table at the end of the year are fading even in the most demanding work cultures, with over half (51%) intending to take more of their annual leave in the coming year than this year.
Accommodations across the world are upgrading their offerings to match this growing demand. In 2017, it won’t be uncommon to find a diverse range of SanctuStays, accommodations ranging from villas to apartments, resorts and more, offering complementary meditation facilities, health spas, wellness workshops and outdoor facilities to promote a holistic lifestyle and clearer path to self-discovery.
- Go Green or Stay Home
Sustainable travel means many things to many people, but there’s no denying the trend for both travellers and accommodations becoming more environmentally and sustainably aware as well as responsible. The coming year will see over a third (36%) of travellers planning to choose more eco-friendly travel options than they did in 2016 and nearly 2 in 5 (39%) interested in an eco-tour travel experience. This mirrors the way in which people are increasingly finding ways to fulfil their aesthetic travel needs while maintaining cultural and environmental integrity by taking longer, more scenic routes and modes of transport. Eco-friendly stays are no longer the preserve of the few, but an expectation of the many.
As the year progresses we will likely see increased discussion around economic incentives such as tax breaks for eco travellers (41% of travellers would be in favour), introduction of an international standard for sustainable accommodation (41% in favour) and transport providers giving travellers more information about carbon offsetting (26% in favour).
- Simple Pleasures
Travellers in 2017 will be inspired by their own aspirations rather than material possessions. If fact, 58% of travellers plan to prioritise spending on experiences rather than material possessions while they are on holiday in 2017. Travellers are also becoming less interested in fancy embellishments and more interested in the small moments and simple pleasures of a journey.
Only 10% of travellers said that a butler/concierge service was essential to enjoy their travel experiences in 2017. Fancy, high-end toiletries also appear to be a thing of the past as only 13% of travellers said that these would be essential to enjoying their travel experiences in 2017.
- The Human Touch
As the ying to technology’s yang, interacting with amazing staff and forging genuine relationships on holiday will be an increasingly important hallmark of travel in 2017. 42% of travellers assert that they wouldn’t stay in an accommodation without friendly/helpful staff, while accommodations such as B&Bs and Ryokans look set to continue as the most highly rated by visiting travellers. Our reliance on those who’ve gone before remains undiminished with 40% of travellers confirming that they would not stay in an accommodation with more than three negative reviews.
2017 travellers are starting to understand that human touch is irreplaceable and crave this human interaction to make their holiday memorable. As a result, we can expect to see meaningful human interactions becoming the currency of travel in the months ahead, prompting huge advances in chat bot technology to match the warmth, personality and spontaneity of real human communication and connections.
- Fly Me to the Moon
Travel has become a lifestyle, not a luxury for increasing numbers, and it’s unsurprising that we are starting to see people’s desires to explore go beyond this world. In fact, 44% of people see a future where we’ll be holidaying in far flung corners of the galaxy or deep under the ocean, which may not be as far off as one might think. The merging of technology with the increasing desire to travel into the unknown is leading to many innovations and travel advances in 2017.
While space tourism remains a work in progress, trips to some of the darker recesses of earth’s oceans are well underway. High-speed rail continues to advance and is scheduled to connect travellers to the remote corners of northern Africa. NASA is investing in a supersonic passenger aircraft that will allow for faster, greener, safer and quieter air travel. Not to mention, a Tesla autopilot-enabled vehicle is scheduled to “drive” from Los Angeles to New York in the summer of 2017. These advances are steadily stoking our imaginations, as well as our collective desire to explore beyond the horizon – who knows what new additional frontiers will open up for us over the coming year…
“Experiencing the unknown, encountering different people and cultures, and testing new limits has always been at the core of what drives us to travel and 2017 is certainly shaping up to be an exciting year,” said Booking.com’s chief marketing officer, Pepijn Rijvers.
“2017 travellers will have an insatiable appetite for adventure, but are also mindful of the impact those experiences can have on the local culture and issues surrounding sustainability. While we crave highly personalised human interaction and familiar comforts, we’re also expecting emerging technologies to enhance our experiences and get us closer to the things we care about faster and more intelligently.
“Whether it’s the other side of the planet or just down the street, we want to dig deeper, seeking authenticity and a real sense of connection at every step along the way. For us at Booking.com, it’s not just about the destination in 2017, it’s about the entire journey, and finding new ways to empower travellers through technology to express and savour their own unique travel lifestyle at every possible moment.”
The research was condcuted with data collected by Booking.com across 10 markets in March 2016, with 1000 respondents in each. Respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in 2015 and be planning at least one trip for 2016. All respondents had to be at least part of the decision-making process when planning most of their trips.
Edited by Peter Needham