5 Travel & Tourism Trends to Watch in 2020
Keeping up with industry trends is essential for finding and retaining happy customers. In today’s fast-paced world of new technology, social media influencers, and Instagrammable vacation destinations, new travel and tourism trends are constantly emerging, driven by hordes of adventurous travelers eager to share their experiences.
With a new craze around every corner and some trends seeming to disappear overnight, the thought of keeping up with travelers’ desires can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to the top five travel and tourism trends to look for in 2020. By adopting these trends early, you can stay on top of the latest travel movements and stand out from the competition.
2020 will be all about fast, easy bookings, personalized searches, and colorful, local experiences. From the solo traveler who has set out on a mission to find themselves to the hardworking businessperson who likes to travel in their downtime, all types of travelers are the driving factors behind emerging tourism trends. Familiarize yourself with 2020’s travel trends and start getting ready for your next busy season today!
1. Solo Travel
As human beings, we’re more connected than ever thanks to the technology that lets us communicate across a variety of channels by simply downloading apps to our phone. But for 2020, travelers will seek some alone time, as well as character-building experiences, by engaging in solo travel.
Why go solo? According to Solo Traveler, 59% of people want to see the world and don’t want to wait for anyone else. Other reasons to travel alone include traveling without the distraction of a companion, traveling as a single person to meet a partner, and seeking relaxation and an escape from reality.
Whatever their reasons, solo travelers will be shipping out in droves next year, and they are likely already planning their solo vacation since 32% of solo travelers start planning their trip six months in advance (Solo Traveler).
Stay on top of the trend
What can you do as a tour operator to make solo travelers feel welcome? For starters, if it works for your business, consider doing away with two-person tour minimums to avoid scaring off solo travelers. Some businesses have even offered solo traveler group tours where singles can meet other like-minded travelers. Create a guide to solo travel in your area and share it on your social media or blog pages. Finally, emphasize your business’ safety features to inspire confidence in your brand.
Today’s travelers are environmentally savvy and increasingly concerned with travel’s effects on the climate and environment. Eco-travel emphasizes ethical and sustainable tourism options, with 87% travelers wanting to travel sustainably (Booking.com).
The trip planning process for eco-savvy travelers includes everything from staying in green accommodations and renting an electric vehicle to seeking availability of carbon credits when booking a flight, volunteering on vacation, and booking tours and activities with eco-friendly businesses. When it comes to paying for environmentally friendly options, two-thirds of travelers would be willing to spend at least 5% more on travel to ensure it was as low-impact on the environment as possible (Booking.com).
Stay on top of the trend
New to the eco-travel trend? Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint and share your efforts with potential customers.
- Donate a percentage of tour proceeds to a local park, conservation fund, or volunteer organization that’s in line with your business. Include a blurb on the activity page so customers know where part of their money is going.
- Encourage tour participants to pick up after themselves. Give out reusable bags with your company logo for them to use during the tour to reduce the amount of waste created.
- Consider making the switch to an electric vehicle if you offer transportation.
- Reduce your own waste by avoiding printing when possible. Take online bookings for all activities and consider using electronic waivers to reduce paper.
- If you serve food on the tour, use locally-sourced options and providers.
- If you sell company merchandise like t-shirts, hats, and more, choose items made from recycled materials.
- Add a volunteer segment to one of your tours. This could be a one-hour break in the itinerary to do a fun volunteer project like a beach cleanup.
No matter what eco-conscious initiatives you practice, make sure to share them with your customers! Entice eco-savvy travelers by showing how eco-friendly your operation is on your website. Include this information in your about us page, on the homepage, and even on the activity pages to encourage people to make a booking. Another way to position your business as environmentally conscious is to create a guide to eco-friendly travel in your location and share it in a blog post and on social media channels.
3. Local Experiences
Today’s tourists — as ironic as it may seem — don’t want to be thought of as tourists. Instead, they seek authentic local experiences that provide more than the usual tourist traps. While the popular landmarks in your area are still on their list, they’re looking for a unique approach that allows them to become immersed in the local culture instead of viewing it from an outsider’s perspective.
Travelers want to form deeper connections to the places they visit and the people they meet there. Their travel bucket list is not only a collection of iconic monuments and sites but also areas to explore in a more meaningful way. Rather than visiting local restaurants, they may prefer a cooking class. Instead of visiting a landmark on their own, they might want to hear an insider’s perspective on the major sites of a city they’re visiting. According to an Expedia study, 62% of Generation X travelers rate local culture as the most important aspect of their travel decision making, and 76% of baby boomers rate experiencing local culture most important.
Stay on top of the trend
The best way to capitalize on authentic experiences is by offering local expertise, and as a tour operator, you likely already have tons of knowledge about your area that you can share with guests.
Tour guides are an extension of your business, so be sure to employ local experts! Guests like to hear tips about where to eat, where to stay, and must-visit places in the area. Remind tour guides or activity leaders to share these tidbits with guests, even if they don’t ask. Including some interesting or little-known history about the area sets your business apart from the competition.
Consider a new take on your tour or activity. Even if you visit a really popular spot, can you think of a way to take a new approach or offer a more authentic spin on the tour? For example, a behind-the-scenes tour is much more interesting to guests than the average tour of a popular landmark.
There’s a good chance you’ve seen ads pop up on social media and other websites related to things you recently searched or purchased online. This is an example of personalization, and the same principles can be used to market to your customers throughout their trip planning process.
Travelers in 2020 expect a personalized experience from start to finish. They want to see tours and activities that match their preferences, travel desires, and expectations. In fact, the more closely the experience can be tailored to their desires, the more likely they are to return to your business.
This strategy relies on marketing to deliver promotional content to potential customers on a more individual basis rather than targeting them with general content that may not be relevant to their searches.
Stay on top of the trend
Creating awesome personalized content is all about nailing down a killer digital marketing strategy. By analyzing data on web browsing activity, user profiles, interactions with your website, and keyword searches, you can effectively reach different user demographics with personalized content.
5. Bleisure Tourism
Exactly what it sounds like, bleisure, or business leisure, combines business and travel in the attempt to woo an additional customer base with customized experiences. “Bizcations” have long been popular, and the concept of bleisure travel among Millennials has become an increasingly relevant tourism trend.
Bleisure tourism takes on many forms. A client might be traveling for work and decide to take a tour during their downtime, or a company may arrange for team building exercises or tourist activities as a work perk. In many cases, business travelers take a few extra days after conducting their business to stay in the area and enjoy tours and activities.
Stay on top of the trend
One of the best ways to capture bleisure enthusiasts is by offering a tour or activity for corporate groups. Perhaps you can tailor one of your current tours to a business group as a team-building event or even offer a discount for a corporate group booking.
Another awesome way to get your business in front of bleisure travelers is to partner with an OTA. As business people are searching for the best hotel deals and other area attractions, your business could be front and center while they’re booking other aspects of their trip. Partnering with an OTA allows guests to book a complete experience — hotel, transportation, fun activities, etc. — on one platform.
For more eyes on your brand and new ways to reach customers, the latest travel and tourism trends are a great place to start. Get ahead of the new year by implementing these trends early and engage with potential customers across multiple platforms.