The travel industry is constantly evolving, and the pace of change is now faster than ever before, as emerging technology and shifting demographics alter expectations and standard practices. This has been further exacerbated by COVID, which has disrupted almost all aspects of travel. Of course, there are real opportunities for companies that keep pace with the latest travel trends and embrace new ways of doing business.

Why Is It Important to Keep up With the Latest Travel Trends?

Staying on top of travel trends is vital for any business in the travel industry, whether in the hospitality sector, transport or entertainment. Customers expect the businesses they patronise to offer the latest innovations. While fads may come and go, some travel trends indicate the direction of the industry as a whole, identifying and embracing these travel trends is vital to remaining relevant in the future.

Factors Responsible for Emerging Travel Trends

A trend refers to a general development or change in behaviour and for something to be described as a trend, there will usually need to be either increased popularity or prevalence. Within tourism, there are a number of significant travel trends and the following developments or factors have influenced these behavioural shifts:

Use of Technology

Technological advancements are at the heart of many travel trends, with voice search making it easier for customers to find travel products and voice control enhancing the customer experience. Additionally, artificial intelligence is improving customer service, while contactless payments and the Internet of Things are removing friction.

Lifestyle Factors

In addition to the aforementioned factors, there are a number of lifestyle factors that are influencing travel trends around the world. Concerns over health and animal welfare have led to the rise of organic food and an increase in vegetarian and vegan diets. Eco-friendly travel has also become more popular, along with a focus on local experiences.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a number of travel trends, including contactless payments and placing more emphasis on local rather than international travel. At the same time, the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 led to the introduction of new hygiene and safety measures, many of which may remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Discover The Latest 17 Travel Trends for 2022

The current and emerging travel trends can be broadly divided into trends that are related to the outbreak of COVID and trends that are relevant at all times. In order to fully keep pace with the evolution of the travel industry, it is important to be aware of the trends within both of these categories.

6 New Travel Trends Due to COVID

Below, you can learn much more about some of the main travel trends that are connected to the coronavirus pandemic and the various ways it has disrupted travel and altered the behaviour of travellers.

1. Prioritisation of Hygiene and Safety

Since the beginning of the COVID outbreak, a focus has been placed on reducing the spread through hygiene and safety measures. Depending on the setting and local regulations, these measures may require travel industry companies to provide hand gel, facilitate social distancing, require mask-wearing and/or generally improve cleanliness.

Clearly, both hygiene and safety measures have always been necessary, but they have emerged as one of the major travel trends because, against the backdrop of COVID, they are now a key focus area for customers when making purchasing decisions. With this in mind, it is critical that companies highlight hygiene and safety steps in their marketing content, and actually take the necessary actions to keep people safe and avoid negative publicity.

2. A Greater Focus on Leisure Travel

One of the most significant travel trends to be aware of relates to business events. With travel restrictions, limits on household mixing in certain countries, and an emphasis on working from home, many of these events are being cancelled and fewer events are being booked in the first place. This is encouraging certain travel companies to adapt.

In some cases, those involved in travel management may wish to switch their focus away from business customers, towards leisure. While leisure travel has also been affected by the pandemic, there is still significant demand for travel, people within the same household are able to travel more easily, and holiday periods can still bring in customers.

In these situations, it may be necessary to make changes to your overall travel marketing strategy, placing a greater focus on families, groups of friends, couples and other demographics who may still be keen to book with you.

3. Emphasis on Local (vs. International)

With travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place in certain countries, along with more generalised anxiety around international travel, another of the major COVID related travel trends has involved emphasising local customers. In this context, local may mean travellers from your own country, or from a neighbouring country.

Focusing efforts locally may mean altering marketing messages to appeal to different audiences, and it can also involve promoting features that are likely to appeal more to locals. For hotels, for example, this could mean promoting facilities and features like gyms, saunas, Wi-Fi access and rooms as temporary work offices.

Of course, this does not mean turning your back on international customers entirely, but simply shifting your focus.

4. Wider Adoption of Contactless Payments

Contactless payment has been a major travel technology trend for some time now, but the situation with COVID has made this even more important. Accepting contactless payments is a great way to convince your customers that you are taking the necessary steps to protect them by minimising the number of shared surfaces they need to touch.

Aside from the hygiene benefits of using contactless payments as much as possible, the technology can also provide travellers with greater convenience and a swifter payment process. This can also be useful for encouraging spontaneous purchases, which can help your travel business to maximise revenue.

5. The Power of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality technology has been one of the breakthrough technology trends of recent times and its role within the travel industry exceeds almost any other area of usage. After all, virtual reality allows for destinations to be showcased, properties to be viewed and attractions to be explored, all via a digital experience.

This can be especially helpful in the COVID era, when travellers want certainty that they are going to the right place. It can also help organisations that take corporate bookings or event bookings, because these customers will have the option to fully explore facilities without needing to travel for in-person viewing.

6. Voice Control Technology

Voice control technology is another means by which travel companies can provide touch-free environments and reduce the risks associated with COVID. This particular travel trend has been especially prevalent within the hotel industry, where a growing number of companies are using voice-controlled devices within their hotel rooms.

This provides guests with the ability to adjust their room’s temperature, turn on the television, change channels, contact the front desk and much more, all using smart speakers or a voice-controlled hub. The same technology can be easily applied to other areas of the travel industry too, providing further layers of both safety and convenience.