Industries are continually disrupted by new trends and new innovations, and the tourism industry is no exception to this. Keeping pace with these emerging tourism trends can help businesses to stay competitive and cater to the needs of customers. Nevertheless, with COVID as a backdrop, some of these needs have evolved, priorities have shifted, and entirely new requirements have emerged. Read on to learn much more about the key trends within tourism for 2021.
Keeping up with the Latest Tourism Trends: Why It Matters to Your Business
Whatever aspect of the tourism sector your business is involved in, you need to keep your finger on the pulse. Formerly beloved concepts and products go out of style, to be replaced by more modern elements that end up capturing more of the market. New destinations, new technologies and means of transport have caused major shifts in the industry. Early adoption of new trends is vital.
17 General and COVID “Related” Tourism Trends
It is important to follow the current tourism trends in response to increasing consumer actions as a result of the coronary pandemic. However, most patterns have arisen from more general shifts in customer behaviour. Below, you can see both general developments in hospitality, along with ways that serve as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic and associated shifts in consumer behaviour.
> Tourism Trends “Related” With COVID
The following are some tourism trends that will have to be discussed by those interested in tourism management in response to the global pandemic of COVID that has influenced the tourism industry as a whole.
1. Safety & Hygiene Tourism Trends
Whether it is airlines, cruises, hotels, restaurants or bars, since the outbreak of COVID, safety and hygiene standards have been absolutely paramount. With this in mind, there are a number of tourism trends that are related to this, such as increased cleaning, socially distanced seating, providing hand gel and enforcing masks in some settings.
This is also now a vital part of tourism marketing, with companies needing to make clear what their hygiene and safety policies are and what measures they are taking to keep customers safe. The threat of COVID has meant people are more reluctant to travel and visit tourism hot spots, so they will need to be persuaded that it is safe.
The “Hygiene is the New Marketing Message for Hotels” post explains this particular trend in more detail.
2. Increased Emphasis on Leisure
COVID has forced countries to adopt travel restrictions, while many businesses are encouraging employees to work from home and use video calling. As a result, business events have been particularly badly affected and one of the resulting tourism trends has been a switch in focus towards leisure customers.
The pandemic has been hard on people and many are desperate for a holiday. If your business is typically focused on business customers, you may want to look into ways to change this approach, at least temporarily. In the process, you will likely need to change your marketing messages and even the distribution channels you use to generate sales.
Depending on your business, you may wish to focus efforts on families, couples, or groups of friends, and you could potentially create package deals to appeal to these demographics. It is also a good idea to evaluate how your competitors have responded to the crisis and whether they are doing anything that you could take inspiration from.
3. Shift From International to Local
The various travel restrictions and the reluctance of many people to travel abroad has meant many in the tourism industry are having to focus on local customers, rather than international ones. This does not mean giving up on international travellers entirely, but it is likely to require a change in your core marketing strategies.
With hotels, it could be best to highlight the kinds of facilities that may appeal to the local market, such as your restaurant, your gym facilities, your Wi-Fi and even the fact that your hotel rooms are ideal for remote work. Airlines and tourism management companies may also need to shift gears and prioritise domestic tourists.
It is worth remembering that local customers are less likely to cancel too, as they will only have to pay attention to local restrictions and are not as likely to have to quarantine after their visit.
4. Growth of Contactless Payments
Contactless payments have been a staple when it comes to technology in tourism for some time now, but the emergence of options like Google Pay and Apple Pay has helped to take this to the next level, meaning customers do not even need to carry around a debit card or credit card to pay for meals, hotel stays, transport, and other services.
Allowing contactless payments has enabled tourism companies to reduce friction and improve the speed of check-ins and check-outs. It also means goods can be paid for swiftly, encouraging spontaneous purchases. With coronavirus, contactless payments are in greater demand than ever, as staff and customers often prefer to avoid handling cash.
Video: How Does Contactless Payments Work?
Read “4 Reasons why Contactless Payments are Becoming Popular Within the Travel Industry” for more information.
> General Upcoming Tourism Trends
There are a variety of tourism trends that are based on more general changes in consumer behaviour, like the need for healthy and organic food & drinks, sustainability, personalised service the rising demand of digitalisation and the use of technology. Below, you’ll be able to learn more about these more general tourism trends.
5. Voice Search & Voice Control
With home smart speakers growing in popularity, as well as mobile assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby, more and more tourism customers are turning to voice search. For those in the tourism industry, it is important to capture these guests by structuring website content properly so it appears in voice search and to allow for voice bookings.
Tourist information is a key part of the customer experience with many companies and voice control and AI can be invaluable here. Moreover, hotel rooms can include smart speakers or other IoT devices that are compatible with voice control, allowing users to more easily turn devices on and off, or change settings within their rooms.
Video: Example #1 Voice Search & Assistant within Travel Industry
Video: Example #2 Voice Search for Booking Your Holiday
Check out “How Can Voice Control Benefit the Travel Industry?” for further insights.
6. Virtual Reality Tourism Trends
Virtual reality is another of the major tourism trends disrupting the industry and capitalising on the technology can give you an edge over rivals who have not yet adopted it. Through online VR tours, customers can experience hotel interiors, restaurant interiors, outdoor tourist attractions and more, all from their home.
Crucially, they are able to do this at the decision-making phase of the customer journey. This can then be the difference between customers completing a booking or backing out and VR is especially useful within the context of COVID, where customers may have second thoughts and may need extra encouragement to press ahead with their plans.
Most modern VR tours are also web-based, meaning they can be viewed through any mainstream web browser. The quality of the VR tour and the extent of immersion can then be improved further through VR headsets.
Video: A Guided Virtual Reality City Tour Through Rome
Video: Atlantis Dubai Virtual Hotel Tour
Find more detailed information and examples about how virtual reality can benefit your business in the article “How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry”.
7. Solo Travel
Leisure travel used to be a family affair or something that couples undertook together. While that’s still the case for many, more and more people are choosing to strike out on their own. Enjoying a solo trip is no longer so unusual and tourist trends increasingly reflect this. The needs of solo travellers are diverse. Some simply want to travel without the distraction of a companion. Others are young singles looking for social activities or to find a partner. Some widowed seniors even use long-term hotel stays or cruises as a luxurious alternative to conventional elder care. These tourism trends are set to grow and grow.
Video: 15 Perfect Destinations For Any Solo Traveler
8. Eco Travel
Tourism trends are heavily influenced by the concerns and mores of the customer base. As a new generation becomes increasingly relevant in the marketplace, the ideals driving their purchasing decisions create new tourism trends. Eco travel is just one example of these tourism trends, reflecting a growing concern among today’s travellers for ethical and sustainable tourism options. Eco travel includes simple changes, such as the availability of carbon credits when booking a flight or the option to rent an electric instead of a conventional vehicle. More sophisticated examples might include tourism with a volunteer element, perhaps working on a nature reserve or engaging in conservation work.
Video: Ecotourism – A Sustainable Way To Travel
9. Local experience
Today’s tourists don’t want to be insulated from the places they visit inside a cultural bubble. They want to engage with and participate in the local culture. From enjoying local cuisine to celebrating regional festivals and holidays, local experiences are set to become some of the top tourist trends to watch. One example of a popular local experience would be visiting Japan during a major festival, renting formal Japanese clothes to wear, consuming regional delicacies and engaging in traditional games or cultural activities. Another might be a long stay with a host family in the destination country as a means to learn more about the local culture.
Video: A Local Travel Guide of Amsterdam
Video: Food Travel Vlog about Local Food in Hong Kong
You’re probably familiar with those ads that pop up on social media and certain other websites, ads related to things you’ve looked at or purchased online. This is just one example of personalisation. As well as in marketing tourism more effectively, personalisation can apply to every aspect of the tourist experience. Today’s consumers expect experiences that closely match their personal preferences, from destinations to accommodation and the kinds of activities they’ll engage in. The more closely an experience can be tailored to a client’s desires and expectations, the more likely they are to return and to use the same service again.
Video: Personalised Marketing by Nicole Martin
You can read more detailed information and examples of personalisation marketing in tourism in the article “5 Ways Personalisation Marketing is Used in the Tourism Industry”.
11. Robots, chatbots and automation
One of the more eye-catching examples of these particular tourism trends is Connie, the Hilton Hotel chain’s robot concierge. Other hotels have also got in on the robot-staff trend, installing interactive robots to handle certain reception duties or even having them serve food and drink to visitors. This kind of novelty application, however, is far from the only one. Many customers now book their travel and accommodation with the help of internet chatbots, specifically tailored AI who can handle queries and assist customers with useful information when human operators are unavailable.
Video: Alibaba’s ‘Future Hotel’ Uses Robots
Video: Autonomous Security Robots for Airports
Find more detailed information about how to use robots in the tourism industry in the article “Robots in the Tourism Industry: 8 Real-World Examples”.
12. Artificial intelligence
As well as the aforementioned chatbots, artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important to the tourism industry. Machine learning technology is now firmly entrenched in the marketing of the tourism sector, with AI helping to personalise the experience of finding and booking tours and trips. AI is also increasingly valuable in contexts such as smart hotel rooms, identifying the likely needs of guests and fine-tuning the environment and services to fit the guest’s needs and preferences. Artificial intelligence is finding applications everywhere, from customer service to security. Future AI tourism trends to watch out for might include self-driving vehicles and virtual guides for tourism.
Video: AI for Marketing & Growth
Video: Example Hotel Chatbot
Find more detailed information and examples of artificial intelligence use cases in the tourism industry in the article “How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Travel Industry”.
13. Recognition technology
Recognition technology is one of those increasingly important travel and tourism trends that’s starting to creep into a multitude of different areas. One of the most familiar applications of recognition technology for a frequent traveller is the bank of automatic gates at some borders. The gates are capable of reading the data on the traveller’s passport or ID card and matching it to their face using a camera and facial recognition technology. Recognition technology is one of the big tourism trends in the hospitality industry too, with voice recognition becoming more and more popular as a method of control in smart hotel rooms.
Video: KLM’s smart pack assistant on Google Home
Video: Airports roll out facial recognition technology
Find more detailed information about Recognition technology in the tourism industry in the articles “How Can Voice Control Benefit the Tourism Industry?” and “4 Ways Facial Recognition Can Be Used in the Travel Industry”.
14. Internet of things (IoT)
IoT is relevant to many tourism trends. IoT devices are gadgets equipped with a microprocessor and some form of digital connectivity, allowing them to connect to, and be controlled from, the internet. IoT devices include heating and cooling systems, entertainment systems and other items often found in a hotel room, giving rise to “smart” hotel rooms. The IoT is also used to integrate services in a hospitality setting, for example by allowing guests to book activities (a session in the hotel’s spa, swimming in the pool, training in the gym etc) or request such things as room service or extra linen via a hub or a smartphone application.
Example: Iot for Airports
Video: IoT Monitoring for the Restaurant Industry
Find more detailed information about the ‘Internet of Things’ in the tourism industry in the article “How the Internet of Things (IoT) can Benefit the Tourism Industry”.
15. Augmented reality (AR)
Where VR simulates entire environments and experiences, augmented reality combines real-world experiences and virtual elements. A familiar example would be the smartphone game Pokémon Go, where imaginary creatures are superimposed on real-time footage of the player’s environment. In the tourist industry, this is obviously very useful: instead of fantasy monsters. AR smartphone apps can show tourists information about the area they’re exploring. This could be historical details about buildings and landmarks, or listings and menus for entertainment venues and local eateries. Museums make increasing use of AR, allowing visitors to view artefacts with their original appearance as a virtual overlay. Other augmented reality applications might include internet-enabled virtual maps.
Video: Menu AR – menu of restaurants in augmented reality
Video: Example Augmented Reality Within the Hotel Industry
Find more detailed information and examples about how augmented reality can benefit your business in the article “How Augmented Reality is Revolutionising the Travel Industry”.
16. Healthy and organic food
Healthy food and the kind of fare consumed by tourists used to be antonyms in the minds of many travellers, with holidays traditionally representing a chance to break one’s diet and indulge in forbidden treats. Today’s travellers know that delicious and nutritious are not exclusive concepts. Demand for excellent cuisine with a view to better nutrition is driving new tourism trends. The modern tourist wants to know that the food they’re eating is as healthy as it is delicious. The organic food movement is also affecting tourism trends, with more eateries and hotels offering organic options. Other special diets are also represented.
Video: Organic Holiday in Italy
17. Customer Experience
Of course, the customer experience has always been central to the tourist industry. With new technologies and an ever-broadening array of options for tourists, enhancing the customer experience has never been more vital. In the final analysis, customer experience is what will make or break your business. Fine-tuning the experience can make the difference between creating a loyal repeat customer who boosts your business via word of mouth, and one who drops out at the booking stage. Everything from the web interface where your clients book their trips to the very last day of their journey needs to be as enjoyable as possible.
Video: Technology and Customer Experience Across the Travel Industry
In the article “8 Ways to Improve Customer Experience in the Travel Industry” you will find out about eight of the most effective ways for those in the tourism industry to improve the experience for customers.
List of Travel Agencies to Improve Your Bookings
In recent years, the biggest tourism trend is the change from off-line travel agencies to online travel agencies. When customers search online for travel products or services, they often seek information on websites of travel agencies instead of consulting individual company websites. It is therefore wise to connect to travel agencies, so you are present and can be found through their channels.
In “List of travel agencies to connect your business to” you will find a comprehensive list of different travel agency platforms and you can learn more about how travel agencies can contribute to increasing your bookings.
Embracing the latest tourism trends is vital for success. Whether you’re adding IoT devices to a hotel’s rooms or creating an AR app to guide your customers around their destination city, it’s never too early to adopt these crucial trends for your business model.
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