Travel trends for 2015: Robots that service hotel guests, the emergence of marijuana tourism and the rise of several Midwest destinations – these are some of the trends that marked the year in U.S. travel. As 2014 fades to a glimmer in the rearview mirror, Hotels.com has come up with an data-based analysis of what the search engines are saying and combined it with survey findings and data from the Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®). The upshot? Here are the Top 10 Travel Predictions for 2015.
- Detroit’s resurgence will continue and the city (currently ranked the 28th most popular domestic destination according to HPI) will join Chicago (ranked sixth) as the only other Top 25 U.S. destination in the Midwest. After emerging from two years of bankruptcy, new hotel openings, such as the Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney, and the addition of new downtown entertainment and nightlife options will help the ongoing revitalization of Detroit.
- The travel industry will continue to see robust growth in mobile hotel bookings in 2015 as hotel and travel companies continue to find new ways of reaching millennials – the fastest growing segment in travel. Easier online payment methods – the use of more mobile payment services, hotel gift cards and the emerging smart watch market – are making the booking experience more convenient.
- Denver’s tourism will continue to surge, making it a Top 15 domestic destination. In 2014, Denver (currently ranked 17th) enjoyed a record year in business travel according to the Colorado Convention Center, while Colorado’s legalization of marijuana sales sparked travel interest.
- More Americans will flock to mid-size beach towns, such as Key West, Fla., Ocean City, Md. and Palm Springs, Calif., and at least one will become a Top 50 domestic destination. All three beach towns were among the most searched destinations on Hotels.com in 2014.
- Bangkok will once again become a Top 20 international destination for Americans following a steep drop-off in 2014 (from 14th to 21st) due to political unrest. Bangkok’s Department of Tourism reported an increase in airport arrivals for November 2014, which were up 2.5 percent compared to November 2013 when the protests began.
- Innovation will continue to be a point of differentiation for new hotel properties. While many properties won’t go the way of a robot concierge or drone delivery service, smart innovations such as keyless mobile entry and automated check-in kiosks will begin to become standardized.
- Latin American countries will account for one-third of Top 50 international destinations for Americans. While the majority of top international destinations remain European cities, Latin American destinations have been on the rise, with Mexico, Brazil and Puerto Rico accounting for nearly 20 percent of the Top 50.
- Pop culture tourism will be a boon for small towns following a year in which Albuquerque, N.M. rose in popularity after being portrayed as a key character in a popular TV series (“Breaking Bad”). Montauk, N.Y. and Cape Girardeau, Mo. also garnered recent attention and next year’s TV and film releases should bring other destinations into the spotlight.
- There will be more demand for complimentary breakfast. Free WiFi has long been the most important hotel amenity, but complimentary breakfast was also recently named at the top of the list.
- Venice and Florence will see more American visitors. The travel surveys indicate that Italy is extremely popular on the 2015 travel wish list for Americans (and Hawaii is, too). Both cities in Italy may see a boost as a result of heightened interest due to some big celebrity weddings in 2014.