Karun Budhraja, vice president marketing communications, Amadeus Asia Pacific, gives his view of what shaped travel trends in 2013 and what to expect around the corner…
During my own travels – whether for business or leisure – I love ‘people watching’. Seeing how people make use of their time in the airport and wondering what takes my fellow passengers across the globe.
Over the past year I have observed some new trends take shape and seen glimpses of what 2014 may hold for the travel industry.
2013 has been a year of understanding the modern traveller, seeing new traveller types emerge and develop insights into their travel habits. We have seen the continued rise of the individual traveller, or what we call the ME traveller, with more people confident to arrange their own trips and take control of their itineraries.
This is particularly true for the millennials – the twenty-somethings who are eager to travel the world but don’t necessarily have deep pockets in their skinny jeans, and are looking for budget-friendly ways to see the world. They are looking for ways to move long distances by cost-effective means, and get “off the beaten track” to create their own unique travel experiences.
Female travellers are accounting for more seats on aircraft than ever before, for both business and leisure. Connectivity has become crucial, with travellers wanting access to information and communication at all times. This means we now have access to a multitude of online applications and mobile devices to facilitate connectivity at all times. These technologies have created some blurring of the lines between business and leisure travel and the emergence of business tourists, since it becomes easier to work, relatively stress free, while on holidays and easier to add leisure activity to a business trip. I try to extend a business trip to visit family or friends, or take the opportunity to arrange a meeting during a family holiday (much to the displeasure of my wife!).
In 2014, we expect to see a return to packaged trips but in a much more personalised way. No longer a “one size fits all” approach, packages will become tailored to an individual’s preferences and budget. Travel agents will become more like “Travel Stylists”, helping time-poor travellers to customise their perfect trip.
Staycations will continue to grow in popularity, as an easy and affordable option for a break from the daily grind. Hotels will need to cater specifically to this group, and perhaps offer even more niche packages for interests such as health and wellness, food and wine, or sporting events. Wellness travel in general will be a growing market, as more of us strive to achieve a balance between work and lifestyle, and health (should) become a priority.
Knowing your traveller will become even more important next year. Personalisation will be paramount and data and technology will play a critical role.
Over the past year we have seen that Big Data is here to stay, but the challenge in 2014 and beyond will be to analyse and apply that data effectively. 2014 is shaping up as an exciting year for travel in Asia Pacific and I look forward to seeing if my anticipated trends come to fruition, or if a new, disruptive trend will again change the way we travel.