Lillian Gaitho’s weekend thoughts about travel trends in 2017

Enjoy the latest contribution by Lillian Gaitho, taking aim at what to expect next year

Staying Relevant: #7 Travel and Tourism Trends to Watch Out For in 2017

From the advent of bleisure and braggies to the constitution of travel as a human right by the UNWTO, 2016 has been and still is a remarkable year. We have seen growing interest in gaining new experiences as compared to owning stuff as well as the rise and reign of the sharing economy in the travel circles; as the year marks the first day of it’s last month, we take a look at trends that are sure to gain fame and drive numbers in the US$7.2 trillion

Industry.

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Personalization and coping with Generation ‘Me’

In the last couple of years, shoppers across different economic spheres have exhibited great affinity for individual attention, as opposed to traditional mass marketing that is designed to appeal to general insights and consumer behaviour. A market survey by Infosys – a consulting and outsourcing company- indicates that 86% of consumers say that personalization plays a big role in their purchase decision. This means that any provider and travel supplier who lags behind or becomes complacent runs the risk of losing the millennial spender. In an earlier article, I explored the power of experience economy and resulting trends that are reshaping the marketplace; there is a need for businesses to restructure in order to deliver individualized customer experience and invest resources towards keeping up with the evolving, savvy and very expressive customer.

Health and Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism as defined by the Global Wellness Tourism Economy report goes beyond the freedom from disease to a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. This is said to be expressed through proactive approaches as opposed to reactive measures. The sector is reported to have grown from $494.1 billion in 2013 to $563.2 billion in 2015 – or 14% globally. A growth rate more than twice as fast as overall tourism expenditures (6.9%). Closer home, events such as the Yoga Festival in Lamu is a good example of a leader in the market, while the growing number of spas, developments centering on natural occurring springs and eco-friendly resorts that embrace the healing character of nature contribute to the country’s products. According to market research and analytics firm, Euromonitor International, Health and Wellness Tourism in Kenya recorded a value growth of nine per cent in 2013 to reach sales of Sh2.5 billion.

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Enashipai Resort and Spa in Naivasha has the region’s most feted spa

Room Delivery

In-room shopping is becoming more of a norm than just a trend; global leaders such as Virgin Hotels Group have introduced in-room applications that allow guests to shop online, order and have their purchases delivered to their room. Devices such as Handy, which is becoming more popular by the day enable guests to surf through catalogues of various products such as coffee houses, gift shops, transport services et al without leaving their room. Estelle Verdier, Managing Director for travel.jumia.com ascertains that convenience and speed of delivery will occupy core position in the marketing strategy of players looking to stay relevant through the new year and beyond.

More and More Local Tourists

With the advent of domestic flights plying major destinations especially across Africa, more people will now be able to afford both money and time required for such short escapades. Take for instance Kenya, while not too long ago we only had the option of booking the national carrier, Kenya Airways, the emergence of Jambojet, SafariLink and Air Kenya among others has not only aided price competition, but also provides local tourists with the option of having a ‘preference’. Flight integration on OTAs and by tour operators is becoming more commonplace, creating one-stop-shops for local tourists.

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Year of Exploration

Online and offline, cooker-cutter editions on five places to visit, or eighteen must do things in various cities are largely but quietly accepted as legit travel guides for respective destinations. This era is however happily coming to an end as travelers abandon the tried and tested path and wander off to test the less trodden path. Global awareness on untouched and unique places, the need to discover and set records, technology and mere curiosity are fuelling this growing need to set off in search of rare treasures. Another closely related trend is the rise of the solo traveller, as he kicks off to fulfill personal life goals and check off bucket lists.

Festival Tourism

From the popular Zanzibar Culture and Performing Arts Festival Sauti Za Busara to Durban’s Essence Festival, festival tourism is gaining fame as a motivation to travel. Add to the fact that most of these festivals do not necessarily fall in the peak seasons, and also that they happen on standard dates of the year, and the outlook can only get better. The ‘importation’ of festivals, such as the Rift Valley Festival in Kenya, which is a cue from Malawi’s Lake of Stars Festival, and the earlier mentioned Essence Festival which has been running in New Orleans for the last twenty years is case to prove that this promising trend is of positive impact to the tourism ratings of host destinations.

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A shot from the Essence Festival Durban, festival tourism is gaining momentum across the content. Credits – Timoteo Servico

Visuals and More Shareables

Good photography and video are strong selling channels, and especially for destinations, scenic locations and attractions. On top of internally generated visuals, that could even involve virtual tours of properties or destinations, pictures and videos taken by visitors are shared and reshared both directly and via social media platform, thereby increasing their reach multiple-fold. For instance, leading travel site, Travel Advisor features more than 80 million images posted by travelers, while more than 280 new contributions are posted on the site every single minute across its operating 48 markets worldwide.

By Lillian Gaitho

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