These Megatrends Will Shape Tomorrow’s Travel Industry

Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip during a New Year's Eve celebration on Jan. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.
PHOTO: Northern Lights from the city center in Reykjavik, Iceland. (photo via JavenLin/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Hong Kong City and Harbor at Sunrise: PHOTO: Will travel to Asia be affected by a trade war? (photo via EarnestTse/iStock/Getty Images Plus)© Getty Images
PHOTO: Will travel to Asia be affected by a trade war? (photo via EarnestTse/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Euromonitor International released a new report that identified several megatrends that will shape the travel industry in the future.

The lines are becoming blurred between the travel and retail space as travel companies entice travelers on a year-round basis with products beyond their customary offerings. The elimination of plastics has also made a global impact and the “Trump Effect” could hurt travel to Asia.

“In a rapidly changing global environment, megatrend analysis is critical for companies seeking to drive sustainable growth and remain relevant as competition increases and new ideas disrupt entire industries,” said Caroline Bremner, head of travel research at Euromonitor International

One of the key trends identified in the Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel report counters the popular FOMO trend. JOMO, or the Joy of Missing Out, is the idea that travelers are more driven than ever to disconnect on vacation. A need for authenticity, privacy and face-to-face experiences means that offering travelers the chance to completely disconnect will be of growing importance in the future.

Plastic waste is another megatrend that has the potential to reshape the travel industry. Many high-profile companies have already pledged to eliminate single-use plastics such as drinking straws, and turn to more environmentally friendly options like edible or hyper combustibles.

Travel companies have seen the potential to pique the interests of travelers all year round rather than just a few days per year when they are taking a vacation. The Megatrends report has identified a new trend that blurs the lines between travel and retail with companies that have expanded into the retail spaces and restaurants. Cathay Pacific, for example, invested in opening restaurants in the U.S. to increase its brand awareness in the country.

“The company has taken inspiration from its own noodle bar at its hub airport lounge in Hong Kong to stand out,” said Wouter Geerts, senior analyst at Euromonitor International. “Cathay seems to have slowly turned its fortunes around: The company’s total sales are expected to grow by 1.6 percent in 2018.”

There is also great potential for the access economy. Travel has been revolutionized by companies such as Airbnb and Uber and yet there is still more potential within this space. Right now, Voom is offering an Uber-like helicopter service, the city of Dubai is testing flying taxis and Wingly is offering private, carpool-style flights.

“Bike-sharing programs were the big trend over the past years, but the next big thing coming from the U.S. West Coast is scooter-sharing. Particularly in San Francisco, electric scooters have taken over the streets. As the new form of mobility caught on, companies like Lime, Skip, Bird, and Spin put thousands of scooters on pavements and street corners in the hope that people would choose their brand,” said Geerts.

Current trends, such as increased personalization and off-the-beaten-path experiences are still going to be on the minds of travelers.

“Going hand in hand with these trends, travelers continue to look for even greater personalization and authentic experiences,” said Geerts. “As destinations become overcrowded and fast-paced lives are the new normal, expectations will focus on bespoke and off-the-beaten-track destinations. We expect the desire for greater personalization to continue and grow throughout 2019.”

A concerning trend is the growing trade war started by president Donald Trump. According to Euromonitor International’s Travel Forecast Model, Asian tourism will suffer if there is a trade war in 2019. The report found that the U.S. would see the largest drop in arrivals, seven out of the 10 countries that are most likely to be impacted by the Trump Trade War are in Asia.

While it seems the ‘Trump effect’ has had a negative impact on arrivals from Latin America, arrivals from Canada and other overseas markets have continued to grow. However, uncertainty remains. While the US, Canada and Mexico are mutually reliant on each other for tourism, the NAFTA negotiations have provided a lot of uncertainty which could negatively impact travel.

Together with the ever hotter trade war between the U.S. and China, business travel in the region might be hit hardest over the coming years.

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