This is a pivotal year for tourism, one that will challenge the travel industry to step up and lead, to reach across the lines that divide us in order to better serve the growing population that uses business and leisure travel to enrich their lives.
As we proceed into 2019, the 9 Trends Shaping Travel in 2019 report from Edelman looks at the various cultural forces that are impacting how consumers are thinking about and planning travel this year:
From the U.S. government shutdown and border drama to Brexit and global trade wars, political battles around the world will affect potential travel plans in new and different ways. Fortunately, there are opportunities for the private industry and DMOs to rise above politics in service of their customers and the greater good.
2. Purpose-Driven Travel
More people will travel with intention in 2019, making mindful decisions about where and how they travel. These “belief-driven buyers” (see the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study for an analysis of this consumer) will choose destinations where their visit will make a meaningful impact on the community, and more will choose brands (travel and other) that align with their own personal values.
3. The Influencer Paradox
2019 Edelman Trust Barometer research shows that trust in traditional media is at an all-time high; trust in social media is down; and more people are concerned about fake news being used as a weapon. In the travel industry, social influencers may face new skepticism as brands and consumers re-examine the value of those relationships.
Over-tourism is an issue at major tourist sites around the world, clogging city centers and in some cases causing irreparable damage to delicate antiquities and sensitive environments. The trend of under-tourism explores a burgeoning effort to encourage the entire travel industry to tackle over-tourism in creative ways.
5. The Business-Leisure Blur
Call them “bleisure trips” or “bizcations,” but more people are blurring the line between business and leisure when they travel. In the wake of that trend, expect hotels and destinations to make it easier to work comfortably while you’re on the road, and look for new startups that enable you to travel the world while working remotely for an extended period of time.
6. The Pursuit of Wellness
The trend of traveling for wellness is not a new concept, but interest in travel as a form of self-care is at an all-time high and is projected to continue growing rapidly in the coming years. Travel brands can capitalize on this interest in expanding wellness concepts for all budget options, from a budget hotel rolling out healthy menu options and hiking maps to entirely new luxury hotel and cruise brands focused on wellness as a lifestyle.
7. Personalization Is Power!
In the travel industry, personal data collection is increasingly moving well beyond tailored marketing to show up in unexpected places. But it’s now time for companies to determine the line between relinquishing personal data for a better experience and protecting the identity of their customers.
8. Space: The Next Frontier
2019 may very well be the year that sees the first real space tourists. That milestone, combined with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, increased interest in celestial event tourism, and the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney World, will put space-themed trips on many travelers’ vacation inspiration list this year.
9. The Future Is Female
With gender equality firmly planted in the global dialogue and recent high-profile international women’s movements — along with several upcoming historic anniversaries in women’s history — there has been a surge in interest for women-only adventure travel programs. Out with the pink-washed wine-and-chocolate girls’ getaways and in with all-female backcountry camping trips and wildlife safaris.
For a more in-depth exploration of trends shaping travel in 2019, read the full report below.
Ian Jeffries is senior vice president, Brand practice in Seattle and serves as a travel and tourism lead for Edelman.