Looking Ahead: Travel Trends in 2012

Karyl Leigh just blogged the results of a survey in which Development Counsellors International travelers about their plan their vacations and types of trips they planned to pursue. (Click here to read)


Obviously, there is a trend here and DCI did a great job to root it out. As a technologist, however, this is only half the story—the tip of a much larger iceberg.


Of equal or perhaps more importance is the process of putting information into the hands of travelers within the personalized contexts that DCI uncovered. I would argue that this process of dissemination is the critical “how” that is essential to the “if” of the “what and who”.


Let’s quickly review what DCI found and add a few annotations (in red) from the perspective of a humble technologist trying to make people’s dreams come true.


The following is a direct quote. You can read the entire article by following the link above.


Top 5 Trends in Vacation Types


1. Experiences: Consumers in pursuit of the “E Factor” remains a primary driving force in travel, particularly among Baby Boomers. Experiences topping the list include culinary and culture, with interest noted in nature, adventure, photography and golf. May I make a humble suggestion before destination marketers start compiling another batch of POIs that they—the destination marketers themselves—qualify as natural, adventurous, or whatever. Start understanding the “E”. The “E” doesn’t have anything to do with what people do. Anything can qualify as an “E”. Moreover, successful travel experiences are for the most part adventurous because they are organic. And while travelers start out with a pretty well-defined “E”, their most memorable experiences come from unknown experiences that they happen to stumble upon as they turn a corner and wander up an interesting street. To this end, travel technologists need to tell tourists what’s there in the planning stage while offering them options to re-evaluate and reconfigure the purposes of their journey in real time at the point of interaction.


2. Mystery Trips: Within the budget travel category, “Mystery Trips” are projected to be one of the fastest growing trends for 2012. There are so few surprises left in life that travel suppliers are finding that consumers are increasingly interested in booking a trip to an “unknown destination” —provided that the destination is guaranteed to offer experiences that match their personal interests and travel budget. That’s great news for suppliers who are now better able to move excess inventory without having to heavily discount rates. Wow. I love it. I think that this really underscores what I was just talking about. Mystery trips make travel totally organic and why not. I think that this trend is a winner particularly if marketers can add organic context to the mystery. I say this because I would suspect that mystery is fine up to a point, but after 10 days of walking on hot coals in the jungle and eating bugs the mystery may start to lose its charm. I realize that this scenario is whimsical, but there is some true in here somewhere. Ironically, technology becomes most important in areas and environments with which the travel has the least knowledge.


3. Ancestry/Heritage Travel: Top luxury suppliers cite “tracing your roots” trips as popular in the luxury segment. Affinity capacities need to be added as parts of the standard destination marketing tool set. In the context of “tracing your roots” this would have to do with technological frameworks that allow for multiple categorizations and data queries. I know this sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. But it is not. All I’m saying is let’s build tools that allow us to reconfigure POI classes based on the affinities and user profiles in real time.


4. Tourism Dollars Matter: Across market segments, travel to destinations impacted by natural and political disasters, as well as destinations where cultural sites depend on tourism dollars for preservation, is on the rise. Travelers are becoming more educated about where their visitor dollars have the greatest impact. No comment here.


5. Cruising and Island Getaways On The Rise: Cruising and island escapes can expect a resurge in popularity while amusement/theme park trips, lake trips and hiking tips are expected to decline in 2012. They say that there are cruisers and non-cruisers. About a mile off the pier heading into the Atlantic for 7 days will tell you which you are very quickly. Me, I’m a cruiser. I love it. But what I would love more is not to be dropped off in places with four or five hours to kill and not have the slightest ideas of what to do and how to spend my time. This makes me feel like a victim of the commonplace glitter and a garbage can for bad food. To that end, I am willing to work with anyone who want to launch as series of tools that connect cruisers with opportunities when they leave their ships.