Trends that have shaped 2015 and what 2016 may bring

2015 was an exciting year for travellers as they experienced many new and exciting things in the year. 2016 is also expected to be a promising year for travellers, offering new and innovative experience.

By 2020, two out of every five travellers are expected to be Asian and will account for nearly half of the global tourism expenditure. Naturally things are going to change rapidly alongside evolving traveller demands. According to Amadeus, trends that shaped 2015:

Sharing economy flexes corporate muscle

The ‘sharing economy’ started to become a reality in 2015. Now a fast growing multi-billion dollar segment of the global travel industry, the sharing economy is increasingly becoming a consideration for corporate travellers. As the lines between business and leisure travel blur, employees in 2015 started to expect the same type of experience for business travel as they do for leisure.

Asian airports respond to the needs of LCCs (Low Cost Carriers)

LCCs continue to take Asia by storm, but as they evolve their services, airports have to re-evaluate how they service this new mix of short- and long-haul LCC models in 2015. Why did Asian airports invest in serving LCCs? Because a growing share of airline seats today are on LCCs. Airports in Singapore and Malaysia have been trying to woo LCCs not only by building terminals but even airports dedicated to LCCs. Airports are also trying to keep airport fees down to enable LCCs to continue offering low-cost tickets for passengers.

When experience trumps money

Gone are the days where cost trumps everything else – brands are now looking at offering unique experiences that money can’t buy. We know personalisation is big – but how have brands actually acted on their promise in 2015? Hotels for example, increasingly curated a spectrum of elevated experiences for long-standing members as part of their loyalty programmes. By offering these experiences, brands hope to create a connection to customers that’s more meaningful than just a hotel room or collection of award points. 2015 has all been about building real loyalty, not just transactional loyalty, treating guests like family rather than customers.

Virtual finally becomes a reality

For a long time, travel has been the only product that people had to “buy before they try”. But new technology in the form of virtual reality (VR) is shaking things up, allowing travellers to experience their potential destination before deciding if they want to go. Imagine being able to escape the grind of a daily routine, to jump straight into the bustling streets of Shanghai or the sandy beaches of Thailand from the comfort of your living room. What sounds like an experience straight out of a science-fiction movie might soon become reality.

Collaboration not consolidation

Travel has become more collaborative, both in terms how people travel, as well as how travel providers work together to meet travellers’ needs. In the global travel ecosystem collaboration means bringing the full spectrum of travel players and intermediaries together. Travel players can no longer innovate in insolation but need to enter the next era of travel via collaboration, powered by technology. 2015 truly welcomed the era of collaborative travel!

What may be expected in 2016? Rail will go high speed and crossborder

A few years back, who would have anticipated that it would one day be possible to travel overland from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in just 2.5 hours? The era of rail has arrived in this part of the world, with high speed projects zipping through the corridors of Asia – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India and China are all on the case. High speed rail is commonly viewed as delivering economic, environmental and social benefits.

Airports as a destination

Imagine airports becoming destinations, not just stopovers. As demand for air travel increases, this might become reality sooner rather than later. We have already seen this with airports building their own hotel complexes in an effort to transform themselves from travel hubs into standalone destinations. Let’s see what they hold ready for travellers in 2016!

The demise of seat-back entertainment

After years of big investment, airlines have already started talking about the plan to toss seat-back entertainment and instead stream to travellers’ devices. Indeed, some airlines in other parts of the world have indicated they may do so as early as next year. It may be a bold move; passengers may end up with a better entertainment experience and a lower cost to the airline. All you need is a well charged device. Who will be game to make the first move in Asia Pacific?

Robots take over traditional service roles

While we saw small steps into this space in 2015 it hasn’t taken off – we think 2016 will be the year. Skynet, anyone? We are not talking about robots taking over the world, but we expect to see the use of artificial intelligence to bring about new levels of automation, while allowing “real” people to deliver a personalised service and that human touch.

Managed travel 3.0

If technology is a creator of experience, then managed travel is most definitely an instrument of change. The corporate traveller is expecting more, and knows that technology can and should support a more connected experience within the boundaries of corporate policy. They know professional and personal can coexist in business travel. Managed travel will make strides in 2016.

2015: an exciting year; 2016 promises to be a great year

Technology continued to make positive difference in travel palling, helping travellers get value for money and wide range of choices. 2015 saw the use and influence of mobile Apps and social media growing further. The number of well-connected and informed travelers grew further in 2015. Travel industry saw emergence and development of many new technologies in 2015. The year was indeed a great year for travellers. With travellers’ choices evolving and as they looked for new and exciting experience, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) introduced new products to cater to this new kind of travellers. Experience, experiment, homestay, backpack holidays, budget accommodations etc. become new trends in the last year.

“Experience and experiment have become the new trend. A lot of sports related activates have caught the interest of people and we will notice an increase in demand for offbeat places and activities. Trends like taking long road trips or cruise holidays which offer a lot of activities like indoor games, swimming, movies, and live entertainment are among such are also getting DINK segment and group travellers interested,” said Manmeet Ahluwalia, Marketing Head, Expedia India. He added, “Being true to the words ‘atithi dev bhava’ we have seen the evolving Indian travel scenario witnessing very interesting micro-trends Homestay which is contributing largely to the tourism industry. Tourists are willing to explore the destinations and enjoy the local flavours by spending more time.” Those looking for a relaxed holiday prefer a homestay and destinations like Kerala, Manali, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan picked up fast on the concept of Homestay.

According to Amit Agarwal, Senior Marketing Manager, Hotels.com, 2015 saw a few paradigm shifts in the tourism industry as a whole. Backpack holidays, increase in last minute bookings and budget accommodation were amongst the few trends that were witnessed last year. Other trends that emerged last year include ‘Staycations’ more seen in metro cities where travellers make their hotel bookings for a shorter duration of time. Agarwal said that last minute bookings increased last year and travellers began to book hotels that offer comfort and are easy on the pocket. “Rio De Janerio, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok continue to remain popular international destinations with Indians. In addition, Goa and Jaipur have been all-time favourite Indian destinations for International travelers.” As for expectation from the New Year, Agarwal said that 2016 largely seems to be a promising year in travel with the government extending e-visas facility to a number of countries. “All in all 2016 has tremendous potential especially for the domestic market with the increasing number of International travellers on account of the diminishing value of the rupee,” said Agarwal.

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