The new year is upon us, and it is time to start implementing those ideas for 2016 that you have been mulling over. But, what kind of industry climate are you going to be facing as you move forward with your plans, and what should you do to take advantage of it?
We have spotted a few trends that may be important factors for the travel industry in 2016, and have some ideas for making the most of them:
The trend: Wellness travel
Not necessarily covering oneself in mud and drinking only the milk of organic hand-fed cows, people have begun to consider any holiday with a wellness component “wellness travel”, whether that be physical or mental wellness. A holiday that allows your mind to relax and recover from the stress of everyday life is a wellness holiday. A holiday that involves walking along beaches or mountain trails is a wellness holiday, and a hotel with a gym in it can have a wellness component.
The tactic: Find yourself
Not necessarily by drinking the milk of hand-fed cows, but have a look at your establishment and the area around you and find the things that make tourists feel better, that give them a sense of wellness, and make sure that you communicate these to your market. Are there places nearby where guests can go for a hike and get a bit of exercise? Tell them. Does your establishment have a particularly peaceful atmosphere? Explain to your prospective guests how this will help relieve their minds of stress.
The trend: Generation gaps and mergers
With the world’s population aging, you are likely to be seeing older tourists through your doors on the one end of the spectrum, as well as noticing millennials entering the tourism market on the other. There is also a growing trend towards multigenerational travel, with groups consisting of grandparents, parents and children travelling together.
The tactic: Cater for everyone
Easier said than done, but don’t assume that all your guests will be of similar ages. Older guests expect traditional, personal service. They want to be able to speak to you on the phone, they want to be able to get around your property easily, and they want personal engagement. Millennials, however, want to do it themselves. They know the power of technology and expect to be able to use it. Make sure your online presence is optimised, that they can book online, that there is Wi-Fi at your property and that they can find out as much and do as much as possible without having to ask anyone but Google for help. A winner with multigenerational travel groups is the family suite, where they have their own space but can still interact as a family.
The trend: Less about seeing, more about experiencing
For many people, especially younger travellers, tourism is not so much about seeing the sites of a new place as experiencing the life of a different place. Tourists are hungry for authentic experiences that they could not have had at home.
The tactic: Research and communicate
Every journey is an experience; you just need to show your visitors what the experience is that lies in travelling to you. Explore your own area and find out what interesting activities and experiences are nearby. Tomorrow’s tourist isn’t only interested in big experiences like skydiving; they are interested in the novelty of immersing themselves in the local lifestyle. Something as simple as a meal in a restaurant frequented by locals rather than tourists can be an experience to write home about.
The trend: Technology
The impact that technology will have next year, and for the foreseeable future after that, cannot be understated. Information and communication technology already dominates the travel industry, and it’s not going anywhere. People, especially millennials, expect to be able to find you online, learn about your property online, learn about the area around you online, and book online. They want to share their experiences travelling online and they want to be able to see others doing the same. They also want to be able to do all of this on their PCs, laptops, tablets and phones without compatibility issues. Basically, being online has become an essential part of existence – if you’re not around on the internet, you aren’t worth bothering about.
The tactic: Get online
The time has come to assimilate. You need to be online, you have to have a website and it has to be mobile-optimised. You have to have listings on a few online travel agents and review sites, and you have to be on social media. These are the basics, but if you really want to make the most of the trend towards increased technology in the travel space, become proactive rather than reactive with your use of technology and use it to enrich guests’ experiences of your property. For instance, some hotels have created WhatsApp groups for their hotels so that guests can get in contact with management and each other through instant messaging on their mobile phones.
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The trend: Stable fuel costs
The cost of fuel has remained relatively stable and many expect the cost to remain low, which is good news for tourists who are more likely to be able to afford the road trips that bring them to you. The airlines are also reacting to the stable fuel prices and have lowered some of their fares, good news for those of you that rely on international travellers.
The tactic: Enjoy it
More affordable travel for tourists can only be a good thing for hotels, so if you are lucky enough to be in an area that it is becoming cheaper to travel to, just revel in the stability of fuel prices. If you would really like to make the most of this trend, point out how affordable travel is at the moment on your chosen marketing channels.
The trend: Increase in hotel prices
As if the lower cost of fuel wasn’t enough good news, there is also a global trend towards an increase in hotel prices. In general, demand is outstripping supply across the globe and hotel prices are set to rise by about 1.8 to 4.3 percent, depending on geographic region, with the highest increase in North America.
The tactic: Be careful
This might not be your first reaction to this news, but think carefully about what to do with this trend. You could, of course, put your room rates up as well, but be careful to do your research about other hotels in your area. If you raise your rate by four percent and your neighbour raises hers by two, you risk losing business to her. Rather keep your increases proportionate to the others in your area. Another tactic is to keep your rates the same (relative to your expenses), and win business by being the only hotel in your area that hasn’t suddenly become more expensive.
There are, of course, many other trends and events to watch out for over the coming year, climate change, political unrest, the effects of terrorism (think what happened to Paris’s travel market after the city suffered an attack). You can’t see the future, but you can do your best to be prepared for anything by keeping a finger on the pulse of global trends.