It’s not hard to read the tea leaves if you have data from more 128 million real guest reviews and research from 19,000 travelers across 26 countries around the world. Booking.com did just that and came up with a list of the biggest travel trends for 2018.
Exploring New Tech Frontiers
Immersive experiences will reach the next level in 2018, with travelers looking to technology to help better understand a destination or accommodation before they book. Artificial intelligence and digital technology are helping consumers turn the corner when it comes to smart destination intuition, reshaping the way we research, book and experience travel.
Almost a third (29%) of global travelers say they are comfortable letting a computer plan an upcoming trip based on data from their previous travel history and half (50%) don’t mind if they deal with a real person or computer, so long as any questions are answered.
Over six in 10 (64%) of travelers say they would like to ‘try before they buy’ with a virtual reality preview, while 50% find that personalized suggestions for destinations and things to do encourages them to book a trip.
Dreams to Reality
2018 is the year to dream big as 45% of travelers have a travel bucket list in mind and the majority of those (82%) will aim to tick one or more destinations off their list in the coming year. The yearning for experiences over material possessions continues and drives our desire for more incredible and memorable trips. With dwindling patience, instantaneous appetites and empowered by technology, travelers in 2018 will seize the moment like never before.
Seeing one of the wonders of the world is a likely list feature, as almost half of travelers (47%) will look to tick this off in 2018.
Over a third (35%) want to try a local delicacy, 34% want to head to an island paradise and 34% are thrill seekers wanting to visit a world famous theme park.
The other top travel activities to complete in 2018 look set to be experiencing a unique cultural event (28%), learning a new skill (27%), going on an epic road or rail journey (25%) and visiting a remote or challenging location (25%).
Retro Reboot Rendez-vous
As well as new experiences, travelers will be revisiting their favorite childhood memories as part of their trips in 2018. Blending the future with the past, next year’s travelers will be inspired to return to previously loved destinations and explore them in a whole new way.
A third of travelers (34%) will consider a holiday they experienced as a child for 2018. Millennials look set to be even more sentimental with 44% of 18 to 34 year olds keen to hark back to favorite family destinations. With 60% of travelers in 2018 intending to post on social media each day, we can expect to see these nostalgic places brought back to the future and captured for social posterity.
Pop Culture Pilgrimages
In 2018, television shows, films, sport and social media in particular look set to have an increasingly significant sway over booking decisions, as travelers turn to pop culture for their travel inspiration.
Reading blogs or watching YouTube recommendations seem to spark ideas for four in ten (39%) travelers. On-screen locations from television, film or music videos will influence over 36% of travelers in the coming year.
More than a fifth (22%) of travelers will be tempted by travelling for a major sporting event.
The top television program locations travelers most want to visit in 2018 are Croatia, Spain and Iceland inspired by Game of Thrones (29%), London as seen in Sherlock and the Crown (21% and 13%), New York and Manhattan from Billions (13%) and Los Angeles viewed in Entourage (10%).
Walking to Wellness
The trend for wellness getaways isn’t slowing down for 2018, with almost double the amount of people planning to take health and wellbeing trips in 2018 compared to 2017 (from one in 10 in 2017 to nearly one in five in 2018).
Trips enjoying particular prominence will be those that involve travelling on two feet. A brilliant way to take in the local landscape, walking will be the ultimate way to explore next year, with 56% of travelers saying they want to do walking or hiking trips in 2018.
Other health and wellness inspired activities high on the travel agenda in 2018 include visiting a spa or receiving beauty treatments (33%), cycling (24%), water sport activities (22%), taking a full body detox holiday (17%), going on a yoga retreat (16%), running (16%) and undertaking meditation/mindfulness (15%).
Embracing such experiences is popular with travelers, with 59% saying they prioritise experiences over material items when on holiday. Partaking in a health and wellness trip may also be good for the mind, as over half (55%) say that going on holiday is a moment for them to reflect and make better lifestyle choices – something which can be easily facilitated through a health and wellness trip.
Economics in Mind
Every year, travelers are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to getting the most for their money. With significant numbers basing their travelling decisions on finance-related matters, 2018 will see travelers looking to be even more economically intuitive. Nearly half (47%) will take currency exchange rates into consideration when planning their travels for the year, and almost the same amount (48%) will think about the economic climate of a destination before making the decision to travel.
Good news for the retail industry, a third of travelers (30%) also plan to make more purchases from airport duty free shops in 2018 and one in four (26%) will even go on holiday specifically to buy goods such as fashion items because they are cheaper than in their home country.
More confident to follow their own intuition, travelers are less obliged to follow the herd, with over half (57%) wanting to do more independent travel in 2018, placing growing value on personalized endeavors, looking for the best deals and putting together their own packages – all with the help of apps and technology. Almost half of travelers (44%) will use travel apps more in 2018, with technology continuously developing to make travel stress free in 2018. This includes geo-location technology directing you to your accommodation, all within one click from your app, or planning activities while on holiday in just a few simple taps of your smart phone, as over two in five (41%) expect to do in 2018.
Great Mate Escapes
2018 is gearing up to be all about the group get-away. When asked who their 2018 travelling companions were likely to be, the segment with the biggest increase when compared to 2017, was traveling with a group of friends, increasing from 21% to 25%
Friend based getaways also have financial advantages as four in 10 (42%) said that joint holidays with friends will allow them to stay in accommodation they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own.