by Marcia Simon, CTA, APR
From barefoot beach festivals in Barbados to road tripping along the California coast, a Northern Lights polar expedition, and camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the message was clear that opportunities await for every budget.
The New York Times Travel Show, held every January, packs adventure seekers and armchair travelers into the Javits Center for two days designed to lure them into the world of wanderlust. The preceding day is reserved for travel advisors (formerly called agents) anxious to up their games by connecting with thought leaders about the state of the travel industry – what happened in 2018 and what’s new for 2019.
Although people increasingly search online for Bora Bora and exotic islands, they are more apt to go to Hawaii and Key West, which remain two top American vacation destinations. New Orleans is also popular because of its authenticity in regional cuisine and music – both big factors for fun seekers.
Internationally, travelers are discovering Vietnam, Cambodia and Portugal, with river cruises on Portugal’s Douro River “selling like hotcakes,” according to Kristin Karst, executive vice president/co-owner of AmaWaterways. The Danube River cruise through Romania includes an intriguing visit to Dracula’s Castle.
(photo: Avalon Waterways’ Siem Reap cruises along the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia, offering an unforgettable blend of fascinating cultures, ancient architectural wonders and beautiful landscapes. Photo credit: Avalon Waterways)
London, Barcelona, Ireland, Iceland and Italy are still popular, but expect competition from big cruise ships sailing from New York to Cuba in 2019, and more cruises leaving from the west coast.
Travel Trends To Watch for 2019:
The Millennial Influence
The rise in multigenerational travel makes sense when you understand millennials, people born in the 1980s or 1990s. We’re talking about 75 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 39, half of whom are married with children, 25 percent are married without children, 25 percent are single. (statistics courtesy of Steve Cohen, senior vice president, Travel Insights at MMGY Global)
Destination weddings have taken the millennial generation to a “let’s go” state of mind, with high expectations for comfort and great food. The growing millennial travel market feeds the growth of street food, food tours, wine tours, distillery and brewery tours. It’s about local authentic experiences.
Millennials may represent the fastest growth sector for travel, but baby boomers still spend the most per trip. Tour operators and hotel chains are becoming more sensitive to the needs of physically challenged travelers, and not just because of the aging baby boom generation. Today’s younger generations make up the most inclusive subset of society we’ve ever seen. With many millennials moving up the ladder in corporate travel jobs, companies are (finally) rethinking the way they approach accessibility for all, including single or solo travelers who often get hit with a seemingly unfair single-supplement fee.
Where are we going?
According to Cohen, the typical traveler spends 3.2 hours each day on the Internet for personal use. 44 percent of this time is spent on social media. About 20 percent of people pick a destination based on social media content (31 percent for millennials.)
Knowing this, brands are using digital platforms and apps to allow people to personalize their trips – 90 percent of travelers use a mobile device at their destination for maps and navigation, 87 percent to find places to eat. Consumers expect free Wi-Fi and usually get it. In return, suppliers get your data so they can learn your preferences and aim their marketing efforts directly at you.
As climate change and overtouristing may potentially “ruin” some travel experiences people have dreamed of, there’s a consumer-driven sense of urgency to “do it now” before it’s too late. Coral reefs are dying; rising waters erode beaches; droughts affect water levels in rivers. The industry believes it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Without a doubt, it’s still a beautiful world. Travel gives people a chance to escape the craziness of life. Travel has the power to put you in a healthy place. About 36 percent of surveyed travelers said they would want to take a trip alone to get away and explore something new. For the majority though, the industry consensus is that the #1 reason most people travel is to spend time with people they love.
Marcia Simon, APR, CTA, an IATA-accredited travel advisor and PRSA-accredited public relations practitioner, is principal/owner of friendlygrouptravel.com and MSE Public Relations. Connect through Facebook @friendlygrouptravel, Twitter @friendsgotravel, Instagram @friendgrouptravel or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share the knowledge
Marcia Simon, CTA, APR, got the travel bug when she was 14 years old, made her first overseas trip traveling Europe on a EurailPass at age 17, and considers travel the best investment of time and money she's ever made for herself and her family.