As the year of overtourism and transformative travel comes to a close, we look at the trends that will be defining travel in 2019. From the rise in DNA travel to industry reports showing increased trust in travel agents and other experts, next year will favour seamless, personalised experiences. The backlash against social media continues to emerge with users calling for more transparency, but does this spell the end of the influencer?
AM+A’s team of industry experts give their predictions for the biggest 2019 travel trends to look out for...
2019: the year that travel falls out of love with Instagram?
From Barcelona to Byron Bay, 2018 was the year in which destinations really began to discuss the perils of overtourism. Social media, particularly Instagram, has played a key role in the rise of overtourism, so it comes as little surprise that we are starting to see the emergence of anti-Instagram (and even anti-tourism) campaigns.
This year the Vienna Tourist Board urged travellers to put down their smartphones and ‘See Vienna, not #Vienna’, encouraging visitors to see the city for itself, rather than perpetuating the social media hype surrounding its most popular sites.
So while the social media influencer won’t be disappearing any time soon (a recent survey undertaken by WeSwap showed that 34% of millennials booked a holiday because of content seen on social media), the time has come to ask how influencers can use their significant profile to help combat overtourism and promote less destructive forms of travel in 2019.
Plastic and politics - waking up to ‘woke tourism’
Responsible tourism has had many guises in recent years, but 2019 may see emphasis placed on two ‘P’s in particular - politics and plastics. This year there’s been much spoken about ‘woke’ tourists choosing political hotspots as their destination of choice, with hotels and tours popping up to cater for the ‘activist traveller’ in destinations such as London and Washington.
Equally, a ban on plastics is set to be a big deal for travellers in 2019. According to ABTA, 70% of people believe travel companies should ensure holidays help local people or economy, with 45% stating they consider sustainability an important factor when booking a holiday.
Travel companies are quickly catching on, with Thomas Cook looking to remove 70 million pieces of single-use plastics within the next 12 months. According to Booking.com, millennials will be on the look-out for sustainable experiences, 86% of global travellers asked said they would even be willing to dedicate time to activities abroad which offset the environmental impact of their stay.
In travel experts we trust
And just as our love affair with Insta-travel may be on the wane, leading travel reports are showing increased trust in travel agents and other experts. ABTA’s Holiday Habits report found that 49% of holiday makers felt more confident booking their break through a trusted travel professional, with millennials making up a significant portion of the stats.
In fact, Mintel’s Global Consumer Trends report found 59% of millennials would pay more for a holiday personalised to suit them best. 2018 saw the launch of Expedia’s Add-On Advantage, which allows customers to personalise separate elements of their trip up until the day they depart. Those companies able to utilise their position as market experts, while also catering to the ever-growing desire for personalisation, will come out on top.
Technology: Seamless travel and the rise of the 'DNA tourist'
2019 saw chatbots change the way companies interact with customers and, as we speak, Silicon Valley continues to rapidly push the capabilities of modern technology. Travel industry leaders haven’t been afraid to embrace technology, with Thomas Cook opening virtual reality (VR) stores back in 2017 allowing holidaymakers to explore destinations before even stepping foot on a plane. But what does technology have in store for travel in 2019?
Technology that has previously seemed out of reach will continue to become more accessible in 2019. Tech advances have seen a rise in the trend for ‘do-it-yourself’ genealogy, with DNA testing kits breathing new life into ancestry exploration as travellers trace their family roots with heritage themed trips.
As travellers continue to seek practical, user-friendly solutions we'll see a rise in technology allowing holidaymakers to travel with ‘ease’ - think keyless hotel room access, personalised travel guides and voice-activated travel agents. Seamless travel is big on the agenda for travel companies, with airports including Heathrow trialling facial recognition technology and airlines including British Airlines now allowing baggage to be collected right from your door. The most popular travel tech will focus on flexibility and functionality, with Booking.com finding 57% of travellers more enthusiastic about real-time luggage tracking apps than futuristic innovations.