Pepijn Rijvers, chief marketing officer at Booking.com said: “2019 is set to be an exciting year for travel. With technological advancements, an ever more connected world and a continuously growing consumer appetite for the best travel experiences, we’re poised for ground-breaking developments, taking travel to unexplored heights.
Booking.com has drawn insight from 163 million verified guest reviews and research from 21,500 travelers across 29 countries, to reveal eight travel predictions for 2019. Let’s take a peek into the future of travel:
Over half (54%) of local travelers agree traveling has taught them invaluable life skills, and 2019 will see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new while they’re away, as well as an increase in volunteering and skills-based vacations across generations.
In particular, Generation Z will increasingly scrutinize the value of expensive college degrees over and against the life skills and practical learning that can be gained from travel, especially as experiences beyond the classroom and office cubicle continue to make for attractive potential employees in many companies’ eyes. When looking at the most popular kinds of trips with purpose, 81% of Hong Kong travelers would consider participating in a cultural exchanges tour to learn a new skill, followed by a volunteering trip (60%) and international work placements (58%).
In 2019, “ease” will be the gold standard by which tech travel innovations will be judged. In past years, travelers have heard a lot of buzz around artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and speech recognition; in the coming year, the winning innovations will be those that can seamlessly offer these technologies as a practical solution to travelers.
The innovations that will have us truly excited won’t be the most futuristic or exotic, with travellers more enthusiastic about real-time luggage tracking through a mobile app (50%) and having a single app for all their planning, booking and travel needs (50%) than the prospect of using self-driving transportation in their destination (36%). The extremely complex will power the seemingly simple for whole new levels of travel confidence and flexibility. 2019 will also see more tech developed for use pre-trip at the research stage. Almost a third (28%) of travelers like the idea of a ‘virtual travel agent’ in their home, using voice-activated assistants to answer travel queries.
NASA will start construction of its Lunar Space Station in 2019 (launching in 2022) and we’ll continue to see considerable investment in orbital spaceflight. In 2019 and beyond, we will continue to push the extreme limits of where travel will take us and as space technology advances, even the prospect of space tourism won’t seem such a giant leap anymore.
Three in ten travelers (32%) confirm they are excited about the prospect of space travel in the future and are open to considering the experience themselves. Of most interest is under terra firma, with six in ten travelers (63%) confirming they want to stay in accommodation under the sea. 2019 will likely see new, seemingly impossible types of holiday home and hotels out of our imagination start to emerge before our eyes.
2019 looks set to see rapid developments in the way travel information is consumed and used. Generic, comprehensive travel guides of the past will make way for increasingly short-form, hyper-relevant and individualized content, which can be neatly integrated into travelers’ feeds.
43% of travelers (34% on a global level) want someone or something to do the hard work and make travel recommendations for them and almost fifty percent (47%) want travel brands to use technologies such as AI to make travel suggestions based on past travel experiences. In fact, 41% would be excited about tech travel innovations such as a digital tour guide, bringing them a truly bespoke experience. As importance deepens on personal, individual recommendations that unlock the most out of every trip, expect producers of rich and professional travel content to find even better ways of distributing this through the use of AI as we move through the coming year, reaching us exactly when we need it most.
Reflecting increased global interest in social issues such as human rights, equality and working conditions, 2019 will see a more conscious traveler become evident, with even more questions being asked around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations before deciding on where to visit.
Many feel social issues in possible travel destinations are of real importance when choosing where to go and nearly half (54%) choose not to go to a destination if they feel it will negatively impact the people who live there. Platforms such as Destination Pride are harnessing the power of multiple data sources to provide travelers with a ranking of how LGBT+ friendly their chosen travel destination is, while destinations and organizations will increasingly step up their support for women traveling alone. Booking.com data reveals that almost one in five (18%) travelers plan to travel to attend a Pride festival in 2019.
The issue of single-use plastic will continue to be a hot topic, but in 2019, environmental concerns will turn into greater environmental action. Millennials and Gen Z travelers will look for sustainable experiences in their destination, while accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials.
An overwhelming majority of Hong Kong travelers (87%) say they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, with one fifth (21%) willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction. Expect to see a number of new travel start-ups and individual enterprises committed to shaping a new future for our planet’s destinations emerge in the coming year, with intriguing technology at the core of their solutions.
2019 will see travelers packing in many different and authentic experiences, from where they eat and sleep to how they shop or watch their favorite sports game with an emphasis on creating moments that will bring us joy and comfort long after the fact. When it comes to travel reflection for more than half (51%), experiences are valued higher than material possessions. As we all continue to lead busy lives, experiences will help to ease the burden of stressful adult life. In 2019, 40% travelers plan to visit a destination that makes them feel like a kid again.
With continued innovations in transport, from more flight routes, keenly priced airlines to sharable and easy, on-demand car rentals, as well as real-time public transport insights served up to visitors seamlessly in situ, the micro trip will become more varied and tailored, making shorter trips more personal and rewarding. We’ll also see a continued surge in the desire to stay in unique and remarkable types of accommodation, which offer the chance to make a serious travel statement – even on the shortest of getaways.