There is no doubt that global leisure travel has been on the increase over the past decade and there are no signs of slow down.
According to howmuch.net, the five countries that spend the most on travel are China ($164.9 billion), the US ($145.7 billion), Germany ($106.6 billion), the UK ($79.9 billion) and France ($59.4 billion).
Independent hotels are fantastically placed to capitalize on some of the hottest leisure trends. Below we review the top five trends that independent hotels should consider as they develop their sales and marketing plans.
1. “Bleisure”: With the frequency of business trips increasing, corporate travellers have had enough to being stuck in the endless cycle of the hotel to office and back to the hotel. More and more, we are seeing corporate guests opting to extend their business trips by adding on some time for leisure. Analysis by the CWT Solutions Group shows that millennials and female business travellers are much more likely to take bleisure trips and that a majority prefer to take personal days for leisure at the end of a business trip rather than before.
2. Millennials: This demographic is causing titanic shifts in all industries, so of course, they are also changing the very nature of leisure travel. Contrary to popular belief, according to a new report by Merrill Edge, millennials are saving money, with 81% say they are more likely to spend that money on travel. They are prioritising experiences, enjoyment, and freedom over savings and retirement. Available disposable income, technology proficiency and a sense of what they are looking for means that millennials have become the leading age group for travel.
3. The quest for new experiences: The World Travel & Tourism Council reported that the countries showing the strongest international travel and tourism growth in 2017 were: Myanmar, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Sao Tome & Principe and Sri Lanka. These are probably not the places that came to mind immediately when you were planning your last holiday but, it’s crucial to remember that a key driver of today’s leisure travel is travellers looking for adventure and new experiences. They want “off-the-beaten road” destinations, adventure activities such as hiking, safaris, swimming with dolphins and snorkelling in the barely explored reef. These travellers aren’t looking to visit the frequently travelled spots or complete a list of must-see locations. They want customised, memorable experiences.
4. Female travellers: “Who run the world? Girls” goes a famous song by Beyoncé, and she just might be on to something. Forbes reports that women account for 80% of purchases related to travel and tourism. From deciding on the place to visit and why type of holiday to booking the tickets and reserving the hotel and restaurants, women are making these decisions. The article goes on to note that the average adventure traveller is not a 28-year old male, but a 47-year-old female and women ranging in age between 20 and 70 comprise three-quarters of those taking nature, adventure, or cultural trips. Unfortunately, not many companies in the tourism industry are marketing to this audience and even fewer are offering packages appealing to this demographic.
5. Responsible travel: The United Nations designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organisation, said, “[This is a] unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.” And indeed, for the past few years, we have seen many organisations benefiting from established ecotourism practices. This is coming as a demand from leisure travellers who want to reduce their carbon footprint, be more mindful of the local communities and industries impacted by tourism, and a greater understanding of the environmental impact of tourism.
One thing you probably noticed while reading these trends is the extent to which they all overlap. Keeping a close eye on these trends and work with your partners to target these engaged and keen leisure travellers.