* This article first appeared here on Bizcommunity
As tourism continues to rise (2018 saw a global increase of 6% on 2017) consumers are not shy make their preferences known on how they travel, and what they thought of the experience. While there’ll always be culturally or regionally-specific microtrends, some larger trends are quite easily noticeable.
1. Self-directed and Self-researched Vacations
Conversations I’ve had with several accommodations and tour operators have confirmed that more travellers are opting to take self-drive holidays rather than group packages or arranged tours. It seems that the desire to handpick their itinerary and a plethora of material available online is resulting in more self-curated and directed holidays.
Certainly, gone are the days when the local travel agent was the trusted fount of knowledge concerning all things travel. TripAdvisor and the host of accompanying social media platforms have become the experts.
With a growth in travel blogger/influencers, holiday goers also now basing their travel plans based on places recommended by the social media personalities that they follow and trust. As a travel writer operating in the social media context, I’m inundated with requests from people asking for my various travel recommendations, and it’s always a pleasure to direct them to the lists that I’ve curated.
Another very visible trend is that holidays are no longer for just kicking back. Yes, we all love to wind down on a beach for a day or two with a good novel, but recent trends such as volunteer-tourism and educational-tourism have grown in popularity, showing that hands-on experiences are now a vacation must.
And It’s not only millennials who are wanting to get their hands and mind busy learning new skills. All ages are keen to get in on the action and learn something new while on holiday. Whether it is a bucket-list adventure activity, or gourmet food lessons, travellers are looking for intimate and hands-on curated experiences.
We’re seeing larger hotels partnering more with tour companies and service providers, whereas smaller boutique accommodation offerings are able to more easily tailor-make experiences themselves. Experiential travellers are willing to pay more for these curated travel experiences, providing of course that they are authentic and personal.
3. Inspired by Locals
We’re definitely seeing a rise in travellers wanting to spend time with locals. Part of feeling at home in another country is experiencing it through the lens and footprints of a local. It hardly gets more personal or local with these types of immersive experiences. Taking guests on my private tours, I see first-hand how much they appreciate the chance to direct their questions to someone who is at home in the context they’re exploring.
Several online services, for example, Airbnb Experiences, Like a Local, With Locals, etc, help facilitate these experiences and connect travellers with locals.