Slow, eco-friendly travel and personalised touring among key trends identified by ABTA for year ahead
Travel trends… it’s always the buzz word at this time of year. Which destinations will be in the limelight for the year ahead, what developments and changes will our industry make to reflect the ever-evolving demands of the holidaymaker, what type of holidays are most sought after, and whether and how will people travel differently? While there are many sources on this subject, one of the most important is ABTA’s Travel Trends Report, and so earlier this week we headed to London to attend this year’s launch event.
Five key trends were identified for 2020…
- The rise of ‘slow travel’
- Travel agents meeting the demand for digital customer service
- Electric aviation takes flight
- Touring gets the personalised treatment
- Increased focus on the environmental impacts of tourism
Alongside the trends, ABTA’s report includes a series of insightful market overviews and outlooks.
After deep diving into the report, we were pleased to read that travel is still a spending priority for the year ahead with 27% of people planning to spend more on their holiday, up 2% on last year. Add to this the fact that 64% of Brits took a foreign holiday in the 12 months to the end of July 2019, up 4% year-on-year, and at the highest level since 2011, and despite the challenges that have faced our industry this year (Thomas Cook, Superbreaks, Brexit…), things are actually looking pretty positive for travel in the year ahead. While this hasn’t come as a surprise, it’s always reassuring to see the cold, hard stats back up what we’re hearing day-to-day in our conversations with friends across the industry – be they media, agents or operators.
With ABTA’s research also showing that longer overseas holidays of seven nights or more have proven especially popular, it’s easy to see how the trend of ‘slow travel’ comes into play.
And while the concept of ‘slow travel’ works well for self-guided holidays, it also complements the trends of ‘personalised touring’, and ‘increased focus on the environmental impacts of tourism’.
Gone are the days when an escorted touring break meant being shepherded around in a group of 40-50 people, guide with clipboard up front, navigating his flock of travelling sheep through overcrowded tourist hotspots to tick off one bucket list experience at a time.
Thankfully the escorted touring experience has evolved considerably, with many operators now offering customers flexible touring holidays where they have the autonomy to explore under-the-radar destinations independently, but at their own pace, safe in the knowledge that the planning and logistics of the itinerary are still taken care of for them. And with the demand for more personalised touring options continuing to grow, operators have a vital role in combatting concentration of visitors in the most established sites, which in turn helps to address the trend of ‘increased focus on the environmental impacts of tourism’.
Ultimately, when travellers spend more of their vacation time truly immersing themselves in a country or region, they can potentially reduce their annual journey footprint – fewer trips means fewer flights – and also leave with a greater understanding of their destination’s culture and local people. And we can only see this as a good thing.
This said, the big question that remains unanswered is that with the growth of demand for slower and more responsible travel, how will employers address the issue of annual leave? We think within a few years, the unspoken rule of taking no more than two weeks holiday (unless it’s your honeymoon) will have been cast out and we’ll be seeing more and more people asking for time off in excess of three weeks to facilitate one BIG holiday. Watch this space…
Read the full report here: www.abta.com/industry-zone/reports-and-publications/abta-travel-trends-reports/travel-trends-2020
Image: ABTA Travel Trends Report 2020 – Front Cover