This year is shaping up to be a significant one for tourism, challenging business leaders to think differently about the emotional and human truths that are driving people to travel. As the world forges ahead through 2018, we looked at the various cultural forces that are impacting how consumers are thinking about and planning travel this year:
1. U.S. Government vs. Tourism
One year into the Trump presidency, the U.S. tourism industry is feeling the effects of fewer international inbound visitors. Other new and proposed federal policies could make travel to and within the U.S. more difficult this year and beyond. Will America continue to slip as an attractive destination – or will the private sector step up to reassure international travelers?
2. Global Citizens Go Forth
Fewer international travelers may be visiting the U.S., but they are traveling – and in record numbers. While that is a blessing for some emerging tourist destinations, it can be a curse for the most popular spots.
Escape Tourism: With the 24-hour news cycle keeping a constant stream of chaotic headlines in our social feeds, many people will look for ways to simply escape in 2018. How will destinations capitalize on resurging interest in “good old-fashioned fun?”
Defiance Tourism: While some may be looking to escape on their vacations, others are looking to take action, and they are using their vacation time and dollars to participate in protests and political movements. How can the tourism industry support these intrepid travelers in their endeavors?
3. All the Foods
From Instagram-engineered menu items and over-the-top restaurant design to new food festivals and immersive edible exhibits, food is increasingly taking the center stage in travel planning. This trend showcases how adjacent industries are leveraging food-focused experiences to get feet indoors, butts in seats and heads in beds.
4.Customer Service Revolution
With more people than ever traveling with social media-connected smartphones, an army of citizen journalists is flying the friendly skies each day. So, what happens when the skies aren’t as friendly to travelers? How can technology help or hinder travel brands as they adapt to a revolution in customer service habits?
5. The Robots are Coming
From Alexa helping with Expedia reservations to actual robot hotels, artificial intelligence is showing up in every stage of the travel experience – and sometimes in unexpected places. Will travelers learn to love or hate their new AI assistants?
JOMO is the new FOMO: If the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) was the trend of yesteryear, the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) is ready to take its place. How can destinations and hospitality companies take advantage of vacationers’ growing desire for a digital detox?