As 2017 gets underway, we looked at the various factors that will impact the ways consumers think about and plan travel in the next year. It will be a year of change – with new policies from the White House that may affect tourism, evolving world views as travelers come to terms with new leadership, and a host of new technology innovations available for major travel brands and small businesses.
We hope you find this snapshot of 7 trends that will shape travel in 2017 informative and inspiring – and that you will join us in watching how the industry adapts in the coming months.
A few key highlights include:
1. President Trump: America’s first hotelier-in-chief may mean a boon for business, but will protectionist policies repel international visitors? With turmoil in the Federal Government making headlines daily, there is a significant opportunity for business leaders to provide much-needed stability and optimism for the U.S. tourism industry.
2. Development + Climate Change: With the United Nations dubbing 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, more attention than ever will be on how the world is adapting to a changing climate and increasingly mobile population. International destinations that are already seeing the effects of climate change and overdevelopment will lead in generating consumer awareness. And progressive travel companies will lead in empowering their customers to take meaningful action as sustainable tourists.
3. Augmented + Virtual Reality: Mass accessibility of immersive technology will create a new world of opportunities for travel marketers. The tourism industry – including airlines, hospitality brands, destinations, attractions, and tour operators – may have the most to gain from the possibilities awarded with new VR technology and consumers’ desire for game-like experiences.
4. Airbnb’s Ambition: Airbnb has been shaping travel since it launched in 2008, making its name synonymous with home rentals and upending – or at least disrupting – the hotel industry. But the online marketplace’s new Trips platform allows any individual or small business to create a tourism product – and could be a game changer for the entire travel industry.
5. Local Obsession: Plain old experiential travel is out; transformative travel is in. As local prevails over global, travelers are increasingly interested in authentic experiences in their destination. Travel companies are adapting to this trend, but with consumers increasingly looking for new and different ways to immerse themselves – or even transform themselves – when they travel, will the industry be able to keep ahead?
6. Terrorism + War: Cold is the new hot in attracting tourists during tumultuous times. The threat of terror attacks and the effects of war in the Middle East are both dramatically reshaping the list of top vacation destinations for many global travelers. Coincidentally or not, northern and Nordic countries are topping lists for the best places to visit in 2017. In fact, several prominent media outlets have named peaceful Canada, with its new and welcoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as the No. 1 destination for 2017.
7. Millennial Relationships: It is no surprise that Millennials love to travel and prioritize travel spending over other major purchases. The tourism industry knows this, and many travel companies aggressively market to Millennials. What’s new is that increasingly, consumer and retail brands are dipping into travel in an effort to court this coveted audience of shoppers.
Ian Jeffries is vice president, group director for the Consumer practice in Seattle.