Top Trends that are Shaping the Online Travel Industry

Top Trends that are Shaping the Online Travel Industry

What trends are currently shaping the future of travel? Technology is driving innovative opportunities, but the individual traveller is always at the centre of the equation. In an ever-expanding travel ecosystem that ranges from travel inspiration & planning, online booking, flights, car hire, hotels, tourism, reviews, and social sharing, we take a look at the tops trends in travel.

Customer Journey
The experience starts online. From inspiration and information, travellers are headed online to research and compare details. With so much choice, as a travel brand, the customer journey must be customised and easy. Our modern-day tech now creates a seamless travel experience that is controlled mostly by a hand-held device. This may not necessarily be new, but it’s doubly important that everything is connected. In a mobile world, even destination travel becomes local and travellers will increasingly depend on the ease of experience from real-time information and a full-service provision.

An Accessible Economy
An influx of low-cost providers and the major players in a sharing economy have completely disrupted the travel industry. As a result, travel has become more open and available. More people are able to discover new cities and new places that may have seemed unaffordable or inaccessible before. And this doesn’t just refer to flights and accommodation either. For instance, easyCar has put together a list of 20 best value car hire destinations in Europe, which includes rankings for car hire, a hotel, a meal for two, and the cost of filling up the tank.

Personalisation
Due to these economic changes, travel providers from across the industry are realising that the real value isn’t necessarily in blanket amenities, but in creating a bespoke and personalised experience for each individual customer. This has its pros and cons, but overall it’s good for the long term when the frequent business traveller no longer needs to pay huge costs just to fly with just a laptop bag. These types of ancillary and add-on costs such as luggage, food, and selected upgrades make it easier for businesses to upsell complementary packages such as airport transfers, car hire, and hotel rooms that are specific to customer needs.

User Generated Content
As mentioned, the individual traveller is now more important than ever. Travel brands can now harness the power of social proof directly from travellers. Whether it’s an influencer, a friend, a family member, or just someone who looks similar, travel customers are interested in seeing the ‘real’ experience behind the glossy photos and the sales copy.

This user generated content provides real-time customer engagement that is fuelled from honest reviews, photos, videos, streams, testimonials, and more. But thankfully for marketers, this isn’t a one-way street. Travel brands can stay involved in the conversation by re-tweeting, re-gramming, tagging, and interacting with those real users’ content. Engagement is a win-win.

Social Travel and Virtual Reality
The experience we have as solo travellers isn’t the only one that exists in a virtual world. With a rising wave of millennial travellers, the tourist experience has become something shared online for all to see. Forbes reported that “by 2020, 320 million international trips are expected to be made by youth travellers each year, a staggering 47% increase from 217 million in 2013.” Travel and connectivity go hand in hand and from a technological standpoint, we are racing past video as a form of shared communication. Millennials and generation Y-ers now want their friends and followers to join them on each journey they take as it is happening. From Instagram and Facebook Live to Snapchat and Youtube, live streaming experiences from destinations around the world is part of the future.

Perhaps the next step is true virtual integration that prompts users to engage with virtual reality when visiting a site, not just when you’re on your sofa at home. Tourism sites can use virtual footage so present-day tourists in Rome can see what the Colosseum looked like while standing in its midst. Many museums and historical sites are already embracing this technology, and this could be the next big trend we see in travel.

Active Travel & Groups
Travel is becoming more accessible to all, and as mentioned that is a result of higher connectivity online. With groups like Workation, Nomadness Travel Tribe, or Adventure Yogi, you truly can bridge the gap online and offline by travel within a specific niche. For anything that interests you, there is a probably a travel group that starts online and expands the world. Travel brands are recognising that these holidays can be experiences that provide immersive programming before, during and after a trip. Travel, as a result, expands beyond the destination on the ground and becomes part of the story of who a consumer is.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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