As we embark on 2019, UK families will be planning and booking their summer holiday, whilst students, couples or solo travellers will be compiling a list of travel goals for the New Year.
From hidden gems to Instagram holidays, and detox destinations to bite-sized breaks, here are some of the biggest travel trends we can expect to see in 2019.
1) Booking detox destinations
For years, people have been searching for off-grid locations to escape technology. But I expect these destinations will become even more popular in 2019, as some resorts are now designed specifically to help guests unplug from their busy lives. An example is this detached cottage in the corner of the Scottish Highlands, where there is no chance of your phone ringing or your emails pinging.
Aside from a digital detox, the UK is becoming obsessed with practises such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness. There are dozens of retreats which offer these facilities to guests, such as Gaia House in Devon, which follows an eco ethos and features manageable, expert-led, daily sessions of silent sitting and walking meditation to help calm your mind. Especially as we enter the New Year, people will be keen to book a healthy holiday to help them on the path to self-discovery and to find their ‘New You’.
2) Slow travel
Traditional tourism involves flying to another country and cramming in loads of activities – sometimes you can leave your holiday feeling more exhausted than when you left. But the slow travel movement has been developing in the last year or so. People are increasingly opting for slow travel, where they can soak up the environment they are in and take time to appreciate their surroundings, at a relaxing pace. Travelling by train to a holiday resort is the perfect way to do this – you can have a stress-free, peaceful journey and take in the stunning scenery from your seat, unlike air travel where you’re millions of miles above ground.
Part of this slow travel movement also involves aspects of ecotourism, such as connecting with locals, spending money with local businesses rather than big chains, and contributing to permaculture by getting involved with work for small allotments, urban dwelling and regenerative projects.
3) Savvier staycations over holidays abroad
Earlier this year, a survey showed that nearly three out of five people will have their annual summer break in Britain, an increase of 2% since last year. It also highlighted a potential trend as one in four are taking more short breaks, with an average of three times per year.
So staycations are, obviously, hugely popular – and sometimes we forget that England is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. There are some stunning destinations in the UK, including peaceful retreats, national parks, and coastal breaks – with Wales, Devon and Cornwall being some of the most popular places. But why are Brits staying close to home? It can be stressful travelling abroad, especially if you’re flying – think about the long airport queues, the uncomfortable journey with no legroom (unless you’re paying for business class), and luggage restrictions.
Some staycations can actually end up being more expensive than holidays abroad, but affordable, savvy staycations are on the rise to meet the needs of families. The desire to get a ‘value-for-money break’ is a growing priority due to stretched household budgets and the continued weak pound. Staycations are also generally more accessible for all types of travellers.
4) Responsible tourism is spreading
Another major reason why staycations are becoming more popular is because it’s undoubtedly a greener option – nearly everywhere in the UK is accessible by train, which is much greener than flying. Not only is fuel used more efficiently, but electric trains can run on green electricity, reducing CO2 emissions even more. Celebrating low carbon travel is at the heart of what we do, and even our name Loco2 is a nod to the fact that trains are “low CO2” compared with planes. We have our very own carbon calculator for passengers when booking so they can see how much carbon emissions they are saving when travelling by train.
As the public become more aware of environmental issues, they are increasingly choosing ethical brands, and ‘responsible tourism’ is becoming a significant consideration when booking a holiday. A study we conducted this month showed that 43 percent of people in the UK who regularly travel by train would like to know how each train is being powered i.e. fuel type to enable them to make a more environmentally-conscious decision about which one to travel on. Similarly, more people are choosing to be vegan to support the environment, and subsequently train operators are doing their best to cater for vegan groups by improving the selection of food and drink on their menus.
It’s evident this will be a major trend for 2019, and I imagine there will be a rise of Gen Z travellers looking for sustainable experiences in their destination choices in the new year, while accommodation and travel providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials.
5) Conscious travel on the rise
2019 will certainly be the year of the conscious traveller. It’s not just the environmental impact that is being taken into consideration when travelling or planning a holiday, but social issues too; everything from human rights to equality. Almost half of travellers told Booking.com that they feel social issues in possible travel destinations are of real importance when choosing where to go.
There are platforms such as Destination Pride which are harnessing the power of multiple data sources to provide travellers with a ranking of how LGBT+ friendly their chosen travel destination is, while destinations and organisations will increasingly step up their support for women travelling alone.
6) Overtourism & finding hidden gems
Although this was a big topic in 2018, as awareness of overtourism increases, travellers will be seeking more undiscovered, eco-friendly destinations this year too. A study showed that half of travellers would choose not to go to a destination if they feel it will negatively impact the people who live there.
Rather than contributing to the problem of overtourism, many people want to escape from the usual tourist trap locations and identify some of the world’s best off-the-beaten-track travel destinations. Travellers are also looking for something authentic and secluded, so we’re also going to see more remote and wilderness areas such as Snowdonia, Dungeness and Skye increase in popularity. They’re looking for exciting places that others are unlikely to have seen yet – they want to claim they have discovered the destination.
7) Purpose-driven travel choices
People choose to travel around the world for a variety of reasons; whether that be to learn a language, to experience a country’s culture, to explore the history of a country and its food – whatever the reason, travelling provides invaluable life lessons. Particularly Generation Z are deciding to travel for a specific purpose, and I don’t mean soaking in the sun and sipping cocktails on the beach. They are eager to learn, and are showing interest in skill-based holidays and trips with opportunities to volunteer for a good cause.
Trips with a purpose will become more popular in 2019. A study shows 68 per cent of global travellers would consider taking part in cultural exchanges to learn a new skill, followed by a volunteering trip (54 per cent) and international work placements (52 per cent).
8) Bite-sized breaks over long holidays
2019 will be the year of ‘bite sized travel’ – squeezing in more curated travel itineraries into shorter time frames. Thanks to improvements in transport routes and costs, new high-speed trains, on-demand car rentals and accommodation, micro trips will become increasingly more popular and varied. Not only that; Brits are more time-poor than ever. People in the UK are constantly looking for new ways to save time and be more efficient in our daily lives, even if that means spending more money in the process.
In addition, a survey from this year revealed that more than half of Britons fail to take all their holiday allowance while 22 million have lost out on an average of four days’ vacation. So it seems that instead of restoring their energy and refreshing their minds with a lovely, long holiday, they are opting for short breaks and trying to fit them in around their busy schedule.
9) Technology to simplify travel plans
Gone are the days when we’d carry a trusty, beaten-up travel guide with us. Instead it’s all about online knowledge – but how do you filter through the hundreds of guides, magazines and articles, which can more often confuse rather than enlighten? The answer is an innovative one-stop travel guide designed for travel-savvy nomads. It’s all about streamlining the travel planning process.
As society become more tech-savvy, travellers will naturally be more enthusiastic about having a single app for all their planning, booking and travel needs.
10) VR / AR evolving the tourism industry
Aside from pre-trip and travel planning apps, the early adopters will be keen to trial more advanced tech too, such as VI and AI – think keyless room-access with your phone, personalised travel tips or a robotic concierge who can communicate with guests in their mother tongue. AI is already being developed to respond to human speech, learn from interactions and provide tourist information, and there will be virtual travel agents for you to use conveniently from your own home.
Both AR and VR have the power to engage travellers like no other technology can do, so it is a natural step in the evolution of the travel industry. For the first time, VR provides this immersive experience for travellers to ‘try before they buy’. VR tools will enable travellers to virtually visit their accommodation before booking it. Users can view guest rooms, the lobby, and amenities as if they were actually there. Transport suppliers such as trains and airplanes will be introducing VR programmes to let users experience picturesque destinations – a great marketing method to increase passenger interest.
Furthermore, giving passengers a guided tour of a rail terminal, station or train carriage is a good way to help them become familiar with the check-in and booking process before they arrive. I expect we will see a lot more advanced tech being piloted / developed in 2019.
11. Curated holiday experiences
Travellers are not just after good holiday deals (although everyone loves a bargain), they want unique, unusual and tailored experiences. Online travel companies are evolving from booking engines to experience platforms, based on rising demand from consumers for more authentic and engaging travel experiences. They have to get more creative to compete for a share of those pounds, as people are rejecting mainstream holiday packages.
One way they are beginning to do this is by creating curated holidays for different groups of travellers i.e. women-only or solo. For example, Tour operator Just You specialises in curating trips for clients who love independent travel twinned with shared experiences. A great example of a travel supplier that successfully introduced a new travel experience platform is Airbnb with its ‘Airbnb Experiences’ activities designed and led by inspiring locals which go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in each host’s unique world.
12) #hashtag holidays
Technology and a plethora of social media platforms have created an environment where we can watch everyone through digital networks. People spend so much time on social media during their holiday because they are eager to share images and videos with their friends and followers.
The ‘Instagram effect’ has a powerful impact on travel consumer behaviour – as we see others accomplish their travel goals, it can cause us to feel envious of their experiences, it can inspire us, or it can enlighten us. A study revealed that two-fifths (40.1 per cent) of millennials choose a travel spot based on its Instagrammability. Of course, people have always wanted to travel to picturesque places, but there are certain views, resorts and infinity pools that are more likely to rack up likes. Before posting their image, people will spend ages thinking of a good caption and which hashtags to use. It makes you think, is this holiday for YOU or just to show off for everyone else?
For travel, it’s all about the experience – a combination of the hottest trends, incredible views, and adventurous activities, whether that be the most beautiful bathhouse in Europe or the Britain’s best yoga retreat. The most forward-thinking travel brands are delivering these types of immersive experiences by focusing on these three key things; inspiration, personalisation, and a path towards self-discovery.
Provided by experts at Loco2