By Sarah Whitty

Gone is the trend of waiting for retirement to get the chance to explore the world! People are travelling younger, by themselves, for longer durations, and as often as possible. Topdeck Travel, a popular provider of group travel for young people, surveyed 31,000 people from 134 different countries and found that 88% of them traveled overseas one to three times a year, and 30% traveled solo.

These statistics are driven by the millennial push for Experience over Ownership: People want to buy stories and memories rather than physical things. Experiencing a new culture (86%) and eating local foods (69%) were far more motivating factors for people aged 18 to 24 to travel, as opposed to ‘partying’ (44%) and shopping (28%).

What other travel trends do we see peaking above the horizon? Let’s get right to them!

  1. Wellness Travel and Fitcations: People are seeking holidays that will contribute to their holistic wellbeing, and their desire to live longer and healthier lives. And this means more than simply using hotel stationary bikes and treadmills (which only 22% of people do).
    • For example, Lululemon and Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto collaborated to develop an original yoga video with Amber Joliat. Guests can access the video on TVs and iPads in the privacy of their hotel room using yoga mats provided by Lululemon.
    • For a more active experience, Dave’s South India Bicycle Adventure offers adventure travel that combines cycling, photography, and biking across South India or Sri Lanka.
  1. Whimsical Wandering: People want to arrive at their destination with no plans beyond their first hotel stay, and be surprised and delighted with whatever the concierge recommends for them.
  1. Bleisure and Bluxury: People want to take full advantage of business travel by combining it with a bit of leisure or luxury travel, particularly people in senior positions who may have more leeway to extend their work trips.
    • Last year, nearly four out of ten North American business travelers added a leisure leg to their work trip. Younger people, perhaps because they have fewer family and home responsibilities, were more likely to do so (48% of millennials) than older people (23% of baby boomers).
  1. Simplicity over Specificity: People want to hand the stress of planning trips to someone else who knows all the options and will deal with websites, blogs, and reviews, as well as hunt for all the unique little travel treats.
    • Unlike the years past when travel agents were necessary to book flights, hotels, and a couple side trips, Travel Advisors of today need to be beacons of knowledge who can find and navigate through unique experiences and options, and match people with the perfect experience for them. Truffle Pig and Quench Trip Design are two great providers in this niche.
  1. Doubling Down on Local: People want to be immersed in the destination with the help of insiders who can give them exclusive access to hidden gems that not all tourists would see and do. They want to feel like they are part of the local neighbourhood and posting about those experiences on social media is vastly more important than buying yet another luxury watch from yet another premium shop.
    • 73% of those surveyed by American Express Travel said they would be willing to exceed their budget to have a unique local experience when they travel, and more than half said they would splurge to enjoy the cuisine of a particular destination.
  1. Enrichment: People want to enrich their lives with transformational experiences that aren’t available in highly regulated, first-world countries.
    • For young people, traveling abroad rips them out of the comfort zone of their tiny apartments, and throws them into still developing areas of the world that work without regulations – no rules of the road, no safety barriers, no parents swooping in to save the day if a flight is canceled or a bus breaks down. The outcome? They earn a sense of accomplishment, an understanding of different cultures, and an appreciation of how rich they really are to return to a heated home with food in the fridge.
  1. Artisan Experiences: Affluent people want to feel special and exclusive, just like the super-rich, and benefit from customized itineraries that meet their individual desires.
    • Creating personalized ‘Instagram Ready’ moments are key. This study by American Express Travel showed that 81% of households earning over $100,000 annually value having a personalized experience over anything else in their travel itineraries. They may not be able to afford anything in the world, but they’re going to afford the best they can right now.
  1. Exotic Emerges: People want to travel beyond the usual to exotic and remote places, places that are newly discovered because of the internet and newly discoverable because of improved travel options.
    • Previously unknown and inaccessible places like Cambodia and Bali can now be accessed with the help of tour operator programs and travel agents, and reflect real business opportunities for those agencies willing to take the risk.
    • Compared to 2% of people older than 55, 14% of people aged 18 to 24 list adventure as a top reason to travel. For some, this could be in the form of two-week long mountain or jungle expeditions taxing every bit of strength and endurance they have.

Though these examples reflect extremely specific aspects of the travel industry, it’s not difficult to pull back and see how these same trends affect other areas of our lives, from communications to food and beverage to entertainment and more.

Can other companies take advantage of the trend to experience the exotic? Absolutely. This is a beacon for food and beverage companies willing to innovate and create new products that authentically reflect exotic regions of the world. Can other companies take advantage of the trend for simplicity over specificity? Once again, absolutely. Cell phone packages, entertainment packages, meal packages – all of these types of bundling and packaging remove much of the complexity of buying and offer consumers more simple and less stressful ways of buying goods and services.