The travel industry is a fragile one and factors affecting people’s ability to travel are wide-ranging; from severe weather through to terrorist attacks. Fortunately, the industry is also a resilient one and copes well with whatever the world throws at it.
According to Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, there are 6 main factors that are affecting travel right now.
Selfies posted on social media – especially those taken in landmark locations – have become one of the main drivers of holiday-making decisions, according to the research.
Citing figures released by Google this year, organisers of the show revealed that over 24 billion self-portrait photos were uploaded to its servers last year, with millions more being posted to the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
1. The social influence
Further research by Ittisa, a digital media agency, found that social media posts had been proven to influence people’s holiday choices, while 70% of Facebook users update their status while on holiday.
With the rise of social media, holiday bragging is seemingly as valued as the holiday experience itself, and travellers are increasingly targeting trips that offer the best ‘social returns’ in terms of likes and shares.
Destinations inducing the most holiday envy (and offering the Wi-Fi to power it!) thus stand to be in greatest demand for this demographic in 2017 – and with ABTA, the travel association, revealing that the number of holidays taken by Brits grew by almost 10% in 2016, the scope for posting selfies next year will be greater than ever.
The destinations with the greatest bragging rights in 2017 are the “ChIICs”. The countries covered by this acronym – China, Iceland, India and Cuba – are tipped as being top travel spots for 2017 by the World Travel Market industry expo.
2. Flights fuel demand
Each of these destinations is seeing rising demand on the back of new airline services or political changes – not to mention their Instagram-friendly icons such as the Great Wall, Taj Mahal, spouting geysers and colonial architecture.
Travellers to China should benefit from a recent agreement that will more than double the number of flights operating there from Britain.
India is also booming, with the number of UK visitors alone growing by almost 100,000 in the last three years.
As for Cuba, the introduction of new UK flights means more convenient access – well-timed for the anticipated rush of travellers keen to experience the country in the post-Castro era.
A number of Destinations’ travel brands report that new direct flights will be a huge travel driver in 2017.
A good many interesting places will welcome the introduction of non-stop flights, such as the Chilean capital, Santiago, to which British Airways launched flights from London at the start of the year.
Other first-time, non-stop transatlantic links for 2017 include New Orleans from Gatwick and San Francisco from Manchester.
Tobago will also see growing numbers from Manchester with its new direct flight with Thomas Cook Airlines.
Improved connectivity should also see growth to Belize as British travellers can now enjoy seamless connections to the South American country instead of having to overnight in Miami en route.
3. Movie magic
Destinations appearing on the big and small screens will experience a surge in popularity – a phenomenon described as “set-jetting”.
BBC’s Planet Earth II has introduced viewers to wildlife experiences in never-before-seen ways.
One of the series’ most talked-about sequences was that where iguana hatchlings came under attack from hungry snakes: an incredible piece of television that has boosted demand for the Galapagos.
Also much talked about film is the new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which was shot in Iceland, the Maldives, and Wadi Rum in Jordan, putting these stunning destinations on movie-lovers’ radars.
A key driver for travel to China in 2017 will be the release of The Great Wall starring Matt Damon and focusing on the construction of the Great Wall of China.
4. Tech talk
Innovations in technology are increasingly influencing the world of travel, as was seen in one of 2016’s biggest travel trends, Pokémon Go tours across the globe.
According to travel tech company Amadeus, both virtual and augmented reality are important selling tools set to grow in the new year.
Companies such as Airbus, Qantas, British Airways and Marriott are already experimenting with VR as a marketing tool, allowing customers to look around inside airline cabins to choose their seat and take a virtual tour of their hotel rooms before booking.
And Thomas Cook is using virtual reality headsets to allow customers to experience certain holidays and excursions before they buy, so they can see what the view is like from their room, what the restaurant is like and how far they are from the beach.
Hyper-personalisation – the art of better personalising the sales process to present customers with options tightly tailored to their preferences – is also proving instrumental in securing customer loyalty and bookings.
5. The pound factor
Elsewhere, the fall in the value of the pound is making UK travellers even more value-driven than ever.
Those seeking value for money by avoiding foreign exchange rates are opting for staycations, with places such as Hull – the 2017 European City of Culture – standing to benefit from this trend.
Cruise holidays are also proving popular thanks to the large amount of available inclusions (such as full-board or all-inclusive) that help travellers keep control of their holiday budgets.
In a similar vein, all-inclusive hotels such as Sandals and Beaches also stand to experience high demand from those keen to keep to a budget.
6. Going solo
Another prediction for 2017 is the rise of solo travel. Recent research has shown that going it alone is one of travel’s key growth areas, with an ABTA consumer survey on holiday habits finding that nearly one in six Brits holiday alone.
This is partly driven by a trend toward people wanting to experience personal growth through travel.
According to a recent survey for Intrepid Travel, 40% of people have no reservations about travelling alone and two thirds of people believe it is more acceptable to travel alone now than it was a decade ago.