Booking.com has drawn insight from 163 million verified guest reviews and research from 21,500 travellers across 29 countries, to reveal eight travel predictions for 2019. Let’s take a peek into the future of travel:
1. The Appren-trip
Representing a new type of currency and means of personal fulfilment, 2019 will see a focus on travellers making choices with extra significance as they look to add more purpose to their trips.
Over half (54%) of local travellers agree travelling has taught them invaluable life skills, and 2019 will see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new while they’re away, as well as an increase in volunteering and skills-based vacations across generations.
In particular, Generation Z will increasingly scrutinise the value of expensive college degrees over and against the life skills and practical learning that can be gained from travel, especially as experiences beyond the classroom and office cubicle continue to make for attractive potential employees in many companies’ eyes.
When looking at the most popular kinds of trips with purpose, 81% of Hong Kong travellers would consider participating in a cultural exchanges tour to learn a new skill, followed by a volunteering trip (60%) and international work placements (58%).
2. Easy does it
In 2019, “ease” will be the gold standard by which tech travel innovations will be judged. In past years, travellers have heard a lot of buzz around artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and speech recognition; in the coming year, the winning innovations will be those that can seamlessly offer these technologies as a practical solution to travellers.
Think keyless room-access with your phone (for example by Entrava OpenKey, below), personalised travel tips or a robotic concierge which can communicate with guests in their mother tongue.
The innovations that will have us truly excited won’t be the most futuristic or exotic, with travellers more enthusiastic about real-time luggage tracking through a mobile app (50%) and having a single app for all their planning, booking and travel needs (50%) than the prospect of using self-driving transportation in their destination (36%).
The extremely complex will power the seemingly simple for whole new levels of travel confidence and flexibility. 2019 will also see more tech developed for use pre-trip at the research stage. Almost a third (28%) of travellers like the idea of a ‘virtual travel agent’ in their home, using voice-activated assistants to answer travel queries.
3. Uncharted territories
NASA will start construction of its Lunar Space Station in 2019 (launching in 2022) and we’ll continue to see considerable investment in orbital spaceflight. In 2019 and beyond, we will continue to push the extreme limits of where travel will take us and as space technology advances, even the prospect of space tourism won’t seem such a giant leap anymore.
Three in ten travellers (32%) confirm they are excited about the prospect of space travel in the future and are open to considering the experience themselves.
Until space travel becomes a reality, this brave new mentality will also translate to travel slightly closer to home with a desire to explore uncharted territories here on Earth. Of most interest is under terra firma, with six in ten travellers (63%) confirming they want to stay in accommodation under the sea. 2019 will likely see new, seemingly impossible types of holiday home and hotels out of our imagination start to emerge before our eyes.
4. Up close and personal
2019 looks set to see rapid developments in the way travel information is consumed and used. Generic, comprehensive travel guides of the past will make way for increasingly short-form, hyper-relevant and individualised content, which can be neatly integrated into travellers’ feeds.
43% of travellers (34% on a global level) want someone or something to do the hard work and make travel recommendations for them and almost fifty percent (47%) want travel brands to use technologies such as AI to make travel suggestions based on past travel experiences. In fact, 41% would be excited about tech travel innovations such as a digital tour guide, bringing them a truly bespoke experience.
As importance deepens on personal, individual recommendations that unlock the most out of every trip, expect producers of rich and professional travel content to find even better ways of distributing this through the use of AI as we move through the coming year, reaching us exactly when we need it most.
5. Conscious travel
Reflecting increased global interest in social issues such as human rights, equality and working conditions, 2019 will see a more conscious traveller become evident, with even more questions being asked around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations before making a decision on where to visit.
Many feel social issues in possible travel destinations are of real importance when choosing where to go and nearly half (54%) choose not to go to a destination if they feel it will negatively impact the people who live there.
As travellers increasingly seek new and authentic experiences, they also want to ensure that they can travel in safety, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Platforms such as Destination Pride are harnessing the power of multiple data sources to provide travellers with a ranking of how LGBT+ friendly their chosen travel destination is, while destinations and organisations will increasingly step up their support for women travelling alone. Booking.com data reveals that almost one in five (18%) travellers plan to travel to attend a Pride festival in 2019.
6. Plastic not-so fantastic
The issue of single-use plastic will continue to be a hot topic, but in 2019, environmental concerns will turn into greater environmental action. Millennials and Gen Z travellers will look for sustainable experiences in their destination, while accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials.
An overwhelming majority of Hong Kong travellers (87%) say they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, with one fifth (21%) willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction.
With deeper interrogation from travellers into the sustainable practices of both their destination and accommodation choices, fuelled by their desire to travel with a conscience, investment in sustainable start-ups will be considered ever more imperative.
Expect to see a number of new travel start-ups and individual enterprises committed to shaping a new future for our planet’s destinations emerge in the coming year, with intriguing technology at the core of their solutions.
7. The experience curator
Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further. ‘Doing’ will weigh equally with ‘going’, if not more, when it comes to travel reflection, and for more than half (51%), experiences are now valued higher than material possessions.
2019 will see travellers packing in many different and authentic experiences, from where they eat and sleep to how they shop or watch their favourite sports game with an emphasis on creating moments that will bring us joy and comfort long after the fact.
As we all continue to lead busy lives, experiences will help to ease the burden of stressful adult life. In 2019, 40% travellers plan to visit a destination that makes them feel like a kid again.
We’ll see properties looking to add more childlike and playful touches such as ball pits (such as at Ballie Ballerson, above) and bouncy castles for adults to cater for a Millennial and Gen Z audience, who are the biggest groups who travel to feel like a child again.
8. Maximising the micro
Almost half of the travellers (48%) report they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. It’s a year that’s predicted to be all about made-to-measure, bite-sized travel with more curated travel itineraries squeezed into shorter time frames. Less is most definitely more as travellers are offered a more bespoke experience.
With continued innovations in transport, from more flight routes, keenly priced airlines to sharable and easy, on-demand car rentals, as well as real-time public transport insights served up to visitors seamlessly in situ, the micro trip will become more varied and tailored, making shorter trips more personal and rewarding.
We’ll also see a continued surge in the desire to stay in unique and remarkable types of accommodation, which offer the chance to make a serious travel statement – even on the shortest of getaways.
“Technological advancements, an ever more connected world and a continuously growing consumer appetite”
Pepijn Rijvers, chief marketing officer at Booking.com said: “2019 is set to be an exciting year for travel. With technological advancements, an ever more connected world and a continuously growing consumer appetite for the best travel experiences, we’re poised for groundbreaking developments, taking travel to unexplored heights.
“With a mission to empower people to experience the world, Booking.com learns and innovates continuously and we’ve never been more excited to be at the epicentre of a thrilling industry.”