1/14/18 • Five Top Travel & Tourism Trends for 2018

As posted in The Gaston Gazette

Although Americans have long loved to cater to their travel bug, travel and tourism is a dynamic industry that remains ripe for even more growth in 2018. Why? Because changing demographics and interests have pushed this industry into areas it’s never been to before.

Travel and tourism has a profound impact on many other businesses and industries (including probably yours!), so we’re sharing five top trends in this ever-changing industry. Take a look:

  • Making room for millennials. As we’ve noted in our previous column, the millennial generation has overcome the Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. That means that they are also the largest generational group currently feeding their need to tour the globe. As a result, travel and tourism’s sometimes stalwart approach is undergoing rapid change in order to keep up with the demands of this influential group. How is this group going to continue to affect the industry in 2018? Look for more convenience in booking online, more options in overnight stays and more of a push toward responsibility and sustainability, two words that carry a lot of currency with this group.
  • The rise of themed travel. Food vacations. Females-only weekends. Ecotourism. Adventure travel. All of these categories are subsets of the larger umbrella of themed travel opportunities that are on the rise in travel and tourism. As Sara Napier Burkhard at Trekk Soft notes, each of these categories offers the opportunity to tailor a travel experience specifically to a person’s distinct interests and to give the traveler the opportunity to get to know the story of a place rather than just to see the sights. What does this mean for entrepreneurs? More opportunities for your business to offer individual, customized experiences for travelers who are looking for a unique take on a vacation spot (or on one of the many towns they pass through on the way to their final destination). It’s in your best interest to figure out how your business can fit into that landscape.
  • Photo opps galore. The rise of digital photography has helped to revolutionize the travel industry in numerous ways. But the rise of smartphone photography has been a game changer. The vastly improved cameras on mobile phones have given tourists the chance to capture images of a coveted vacation spot and post it immediately to social media, generating nearly instant interest. But what’s also true is that communities looking to snag some tourism dollars can use mobile phones to do some self-promotion as well. In an article on Travel Massive, photographer Andrea Rees shared how a workshop she taught in the town of Khayelitsha in South Africa was able to help the women in the community develop a postcard series and bring in much-needed additional revenue. The next step, said the women, is to expand their project so that it reaches people overseas (which is where it’s already headed). Expect to hear more and more of these kinds of stories in 2018: from regular tourists to Instagram travel bloggers to small communities, all of these groups are learning how impactful a good photograph can be on the mighty tourism dollar.
  • Integration of virtual reality. It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but virtual reality is becoming more and more of an industry shaker in travel and tourism. That’s because of its flexibility and the vast possibilities it opens for helping potential guests visualize themselves in a desired destination spot before they even arrive. Virtual reality can, among other things, be used by hotels and venues to give guests a three-dimensional tour of a rental location (room, conference venue, wedding spot) or to highlight features and point out places of interest in a dazzling locale. These benefits can give people the details they need to make an informed decision before laying out their cash. It can also help to raise expectations before a visit and encourage people to finalize their booking.
  • The changing landscape of overnight stays. Most travel and tourism trendspotters agree that Airbnb will continue to disrupt the hotel industry, but it’s unlikely that it will fully supplant it in 2018. That’s because, although Airbnb has unique offerings, the new business model has also forced hotels to change up their approach to overnight stays. Some hotels have created boutique locations to tailor to niche groups; others have simply upped their perks and made their rates more competitive to counter the Airbnb effect. Expect this competition to drive continued innovation in the industry– and to bring continued benefits to travelers. 

Whether you’re headed to Copenhagen, Cooperstown or Kinshasa, you’ll see these travel and tourism trends taking off this year. It’s good news for both travelers and businesses, so pack your bags – and keep those storefronts open.