It’s that time of year when pundits and prognosticators publish their predictions for what’s gonna be hot or not for the next 12 months. There’s no shortage of travel trends reports talking about what will be driving your customers' buying decisions. But since you don’t have time to read them all, I took a look around for you. What I noticed is one theme everyone seems to agree upon.
In 2020, travelers are looking to go where fewer people have gone before.
For instance, Hospitality.net quotes Christie Hudson, Head of PR for Brand Expedia North America, as saying:
"When we looked at where travelers went in 2019, we saw that the biggest growth in demand was happening for destinations that aren't the usual tourist hotspots. For example, instead of Venice or Rome, the top trending Italian destinations were in Sardinia and the Italian Riviera."
And according to the luxury travel advisor network, Virtuoso:
“The well-traveled luxury set is seeking remote, unspoiled destinations to avoid crowds at over-touristed locales. Virtuoso advisors report a rise in requests for places ranging from the culturally distinct to those steeped in nature, including Borneo, Greenland, and Oman.”
The reason for this demand, however, isn’t just a desire by the well-to-do to separate themselves from the masses. According to the UK travel trade association, ABTA:
“Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their holidays. And following years of rising concern over specific issues such as animal welfare and plastic, climate change has progressed further into consumers’ consciousness.”
Booking.com agrees. They report that the rise of so-called “second-city” travel—or the exploration of lesser-known destinations—is driven by a desire to reduce over-tourism and protect the environment. Their research reveals:
- Over half (54%) of global travelers want to play a part in reducing over-tourism, while 51% would swap their original destination for a lesser known but similar alternative if they knew it’d leave less of an environmental impact.
- Meanwhile, 60% of global travelers would be keen to have access to a service (app/website) that recommends destinations where an increase in tourism would have a positive impact on the local community.
This, more than any other, seems to be the travel trend that hospitality and tourism providers simply cannot ignore. As the travel technology company, Amadeus notes:
“No-one in the industry is ignorant of our responsibilities to the planet, but travelers are not only questioning our response to the crisis but also factoring in sustainability when choosing how and with whom to travel.”
If you are in the eco-travel space, or if sustainability is a prominent part of your business model, then you are already well positioned for 2020. Likewise if you’re simply located outside of the traditional tourist hotspots.
If you don’t have a sustainability program built into your business, then now might be the time to start planning one for your future.
Either way, addressing the traveling public’s environmental and social sustainability concerns should be a strategic part of your marketing this year.