The Obvious Bets
Generational and Geo-economic Shifts: According to Expedia Group Media Solutions research, younger travellers crave unique experiences and adventure, fully embracing the #YOLO mentality. And now here comes Generation Alpha. The good news for the year ahead: they’re being born to Millennial parents, who aren’t slowing down when it comes to travel. The challenge: They may be young, they may be small, but they are mighty and pack a lot of punch when it comes to influencing family travel decisions.
In a decade, members of Gen A – which is expected to be the most formally educated and wealthiest generation – will be turning 20 years old. In college and/or working, they’ll be making their own travel decisions as they blaze their own way around the world.
Expect them to crave a fully digital, frictionless travel experience – exploring new destinations via their home virtual reality sets as they shop for their next trip, bringing loved ones along through augmented reality, advanced bots that instantly serve up one-click bookable travel itineraries that are personalized from where they’ll stay down to where they’ll eat.
The Mildly Interesting Bets
The Changing Face of Work: As companies invest more resources into employees’ well-being and provide more flexible travel and ‘work from anywhere’ policies, employee satisfaction and productivity are getting a boost, increasing happiness and freedom in their personal lives. In the years ahead, people will have more time, and perhaps money, based on provided benefits such as childcare, to be used for things like travel.
However, the art of business travel will never go away, in fact, it will become more important as companies grow and look to carve out a competitive advantage. A company’s travel policy reflects its culture and commitment to its people, becoming a core offering that attracts talent.
Diversity in Accommodations: Business travel to bleisure (extending a business trip for leisure), family travel to those traveling for healthcare – all factors driving diversification in accommodations. With travel demand on Vrbo for houseboats, yachts, RVs and Airstreams up 30 per cent year-over-year, the next wave of unique accommodations has arrived. Diversification is important, as travellers should always have the choice in what bests fit their travel needs, though chain and independent hotels will remain a critical piece of the ecosystem.
The Outlandishly Bold Bets
Hitting the Road: While the staycation at one time was a silent competitor for lodging suppliers, recent data from Vrbo shows travellers in are increasingly booking vacation rentals in their own backyard, meaning they are leaving, just not going far.
Infrastructure spending combined with road improvements and automobile technologies is making driving more comfortable and efficient. We can expect that with better roads and people becoming more mindful of their carbon footprints and aware of when they need to travel by air.
Redefining the Airport Experience: It’s the age of the swing traveller – people who prioritize better fares and airport amenities, like shorter security lines and better dining options, even if it means passing on a (much) shorter drive to the local airport in their town or city. As such, to capture these travellers, airports in the coming years will increasingly re-evaluate their offerings – variety of travel routes, parking options, local cuisine, shopping, etc. – ultimately redefining the airport experience.
Purchasing Hyper-Personalized Experiences
As airports become destinations, they’ll also benefit from increasing personalization through amenities, similar to their hotel counterparts. In the next decade, it’s possible that travellers will purchase add-ons via mobile apps based on their preference and pocketbooks, like VIP entry through special security lines, transportation from the curb to the gate, packaged meals provided before boarding, in-flight curated content, in-flight WIFI, and pre-arranged transportation from the airport.