As we enter not just a new year but a new decade, our travel needs, behaviours, and wants continue to evolve. The world today, like the explorers themselves, does not sit still.
With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, Booking.com predicts that 2020 will be a year of travel exploration like never before, fuelled by technology as well as a growing sense of responsibility and deeper connection with the people and places we visit.
1. The rise of the ‘second city’ traveller
Second-city travel, meaning the exploration of lesser-known destinations in a bid to reduce over-tourism and protect the environment, will take a leap forward in the year ahead. Expect to see companies respond to this demand by introducing functions that make it easier for travellers to identify second-city/neighbourhood destinations through understanding traveller’s trip preferences and matching these with alternative or lesser known destinations in their chosen country or region. Likewise, increasing collaboration across the travel eco-system will see more awareness campaigns and infrastructure improvement drives to entice visitors to take the road less travelled.
2. Tech-spect the unexpected
2020 will see travellers put key aspects of their decision-making process even more firmly in the hands of technology. It can be overwhelming to decide which corners of our incredible planet to visit or what excursions to choose, but the coming year will see inventive tech inspiring and enabling us to overcome this hurdle with ease. Smart, trusted tech-led recommendations will connect us to a myriad of new experiences that might not otherwise have crossed our path, while also saving time (as well as screen-time) and enabling us to max out every minute of ‘now’ while on vacation.
Meeting that demand, 2020 will see even more applications of Artificial Intelligence offering tailored suggestions of destinations to visit, places to stay and things to do based on your current preferences, previous trips and key contextual factors such as weather and popularity.
3. Slo-Mo is the new #FOMO
Instead of experiencing the constant fear of missing out (FOMO) and trying to speed through as much as possible, travel in 2020 will be all about taking it slow. Types of transport that play into our desire to take the pace down a notch will also come into their own – from peddle bikes to trams, sleds and boats, as well as our own two feet.
4. Discovering the all-amusive escape
A fast-paced world means that most of us are often time-poor – a notion that doesn’t start or stop with vacations. Travelers will want to be as time-efficient as possible on vacation, so instead of settling into one theme for the entire vacation, 2020 will see a rise in travellers exploring the ‘all-amusive’, by visiting destinations that offer an array of enriching experiences and attractions. Recognising this, expect to see the industry continue to make it even easier for travellers by curating itineraries full of variety, deals and routes to allow them to get the most out of these all-amusive destinations.
5. Pets in the priority lane
With more than half (55%) of global pet owners saying that their pet is as important to them as their children, it’s no surprise that 2020 looks set to herald a new era in pet-centric vacations. We’ll see travellers putting the needs of their beloved pets well before their own when it comes to selecting where to go, where to stay and what to do. Reflecting this trend, the number of pet-friendly properties continues to rise while savvy to this appetite, accommodations around the world will continue to look for innovative ways to up the ante when it comes to pet-tailored offerings and amenities, such as complimentary dog day beds, pet spas, dedicated room service menus and even specially designed pet restaurants. Animals on vacation can definitely expect a five-star experience.
6. Making great memories with ‘grand’ getaways
2020 will be the year of the ‘grand’ as more grandparents will take epic vacations with just their grandkids, leaving the middle generation behind. Almost three-quarters (72%) of grandparents agree that spending time with their grandkids keeps them feeling young and 71% believe that parents need alone time without their children. Pair that with the fact that today’s older generation is healthier, more adventurous and more keen to stay young and active than ever before, we’ll see ‘grand’ vacations that offer an array of active experiences for both generations to take part in becoming even more popular in the year ahead.
7. Race to the reservation
The coming year will see travellers put culinary ambitions at the forefront of their travel decision making, with the race to snag that all-important restaurant reservation truly on. For many, where and when they travel will start with – and depend on – whether they can reserve a table to enjoy highly coveted cuisine, in many cases at places whose waiting lists stretch months long. And with appetites whetted by an abundance of social media content and recommendations, it won’t just be the big-name restaurants at which travellers are desperate to nab a seat. Hidden gems – those places which have long been favourites amongst the locals and offer sought-after homegrown flavours, sometimes well off the beaten track – are the ones most likely to tickle the taste buds of travellers looking for local gastronomic experiences.
8. Fast track to long-term travel
As retirement looks set to become less and less about reaching a certain age and leaving the workforce, and with increasing numbers actively planning to retire earlier, we’ll see this moment become surprisingly synonymous with ‘adventure travel planning’. Nearly one quarter (23%) of 18 to 25-year-olds are planning to retire before they turn 55 and what they plan to do is also changing. 2020 will see travellers shift their mindset and start to plan big for their future golden years, with nearly two thirds (65%) of global travellers seeing travel as the perfect way to spend that free time.
With retirement and traveling going hand in hand for so many different age groups, expect to see products that help travellers kick-start the planning process through ‘retirement travel’ saving pots, allowing travellers to put money aside that will go towards the longest vacation of their lives.
By Özgür Töre