In October, I was a first-time attendee at the Marketing Outlook Forum (MOF), the industry’s leading strategic travel forecast conference, organized by the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA). The event was packed full of information that will help us develop stronger marketing programs for our clients. Below are my picks for the Top 5 Trends shared at MOF.
- International travel trends continue to fluctuate and change.
- Canada has long been the number one source of arrivals into the U.S. with 20.7 million arrivals in 2015. That is about to change. Mexico will surpass Canada as the number one source of arrivals by the end of 2016. –This year! What is contributing to this shift? The weakened Canadian exchange rate continues to deter Canadians’ travel plans into the US. While this is happening to the north of our borders, to the south in Mexico, a growing middle class with more discretionary dollars is contributing to more outbound travel.
- The United Kingdom has long been the number one overseas market to the U.S. That is beginning to shift and it is projected that China arrivals will surpass the U.K. by 2020. The impact of Brexit and a weaker economy in the UK is slowing outbound travel while China outbound travel continues to rise.
- India is an emerging market and has been identified as the fastest growing large economy in the world with a projected growth rate of 7.4% in 2016 & 2017. It is projected that by 2025, India will be the 2nd largest market for consuming-class households with 89 million of them. More prosperity means more discretionary income for travel.
- U.S. Domestic Leisure Market is strong and projected to grow in 2017. According to Tourism Economics, consumer spending is expected to grow at the same level in 2017 as it did in 2016. This means that domestic travel will remain strong. Kantar Research reported that:
- 81% of respondents to their 2016 travel survey stated they prefer to spend money on experiences that will enrich their life – like travel and vacations.
- 87% said that travel and vacations are about adventure and trying new things while 91% identified relaxing and unwinding important for their travel plans.
- 79% want to be a traveler, not a tourist and 64% try to go to places off the beaten path.
- Sharing economy is here to stay. According to a Destination Analysts survey, 14.4% of travelers used a peer to peer lodging service (ie: VRBO, Airbnb etc.) in the last 12 months and 18.8% say they are likely or very likely to use one in the next 12 months. Millennials are not the only generation that enjoys using peer to peer lodging according to DKShifflet. The average short-term renter is 46 years old, married and has an income of $107,000. They travel in parties that average 3.9 people, stay longer and spend more than the average party and are more likely to be return visitors.
- Food & Beverage Tourism continues to rise. According to the World Food Travel Association, 55% of culinary travelers are also beverage travelers. The Association recently published the 2016 Food Travel Monitor, the largest food and beverage and tourism study ever conducted.
- 75% of leisure travelers have been motivated to visit a destination because of food and beverage.
- 86% of respondents claimed a positive food and drink experience will motivate them to return to a destination and 93% of American Travelers engage in a food & drink experience outside of dining when they travel.
- The research report includes psycho-culinary profiles that explain interests and motivations of different food travelers. The top categories are eclectic, authentic and localist – surprisingly, gourmet is in the minority.
- Peer to peer dining is becoming an important trend with websites such ascom, bookalokai.com, eatwith.com, mealsharing.com and more.
- Examples of best practices in foodie destinations include Asheville, NC Foodtopia, San Sebastian, Spain, California Dream Eater and Greek Breakfast.
- Project: Time Off. The S. Travel Association is launching a project in 2017 aimed at getting Americans to use their vacation time. According to the Association:
- 55% of Americans leave vacation days unused each year, creating a stockpile of 658 million unused days.
- In 2015, 222 million vacation days were forfeited, unable to be rolled over to the following year.
The personal and professional benefits of using vacation time are many. However, the real opportunity lies in the economic impact of those vacation days going to use. According to projecttimeoff.com, “Had Americans used the vacation time they earned in 2015, it would have meant $223 billion in spending for the U.S. economy. Servicing the needs of those unused vacation days would have created 1.6 million jobs, resulting in $65 billion in additional income. If Americans were to just use one more day, it would be $34 billion in total spending for the U.S. economy.” Watch for the upcoming National Plan for Vacation Day that will take place on January 31. The day is designed to encourage Americans to plan their vacation days for the rest of the year, at the start of the year. Workers need a wake-up call to take back their calendars and #PlanForVacation.
Each one of these trends lends so many insights and possibilities for tourism marketers. Which one stands out to you and what impact will it have on your future marketing plans?