Wellness vacations. Extended business trips. Offbeat destinations.
The trends powering the future of travel are exciting, robust and innovative. From meditation vacations to visiting previously under-traveled cities, these trends are aiming to provide travelers with convenience, productivity and peace of mind.
Wellness tourism is an emerging and robust trend in the travel industry. Wellness vacations are designed for travelers to escape the rat race of daily life and to help achieve peace in their lives; most of these vacations put the wellness of the individual at the center of the experience. Wellness vacations are an effective break from the constant screen time and sedentary work environments most people are accustomed to. These vacations can include meditation retreats, yoga, nature hikes, and spa treatments. This is a rapidly growing sector of travel that is expected to hit $680 billion this year and its growth is outpacing the travel industry by more than 50%.
Additionally, business-leisure travel, also known as bleisure, is another emerging trend in the travel industry. The practice of mixing business travel with leisure isn’t novel, but it has become more prominent recently; this practice may have been looked down upon before, but now it has become a norm amongst organizations. Bleisure has emerged from both employee demand and corporate evolution. With companies competing for talent, bleisure has been one of the tactics deployed to retain and recruit employees. Bleisure travel doesn’t have to separate business and leisure time for travel, it can add a few leisure elements to make a business trip more enjoyable. Some bleisure practices include extending a business trip for a few days to explore a city or attend an event. In 2018, bleisure trips were up 20% and the trend is expected to rise as employees of all age groups increasing their demand to incorporate leisure in business travels.
Travelers of today and the future aren’t always looking for urban, packed cities. This has been illustrated by the emergence of undertourism, which has led to previously undervisited areas to become more desirable. Undertourism is a method that cities can employ to protect themselves from having a situation like Barcelona or Venice, where tourists outnumber local residents and the economy heavily depends on tourism. Undertourism is marketed to tourists as offbeat destinations where they can get away from the masses in major cities. A recent example of undertourism is Oslo’s campaign in 2017 that aimed to direct travelers away from densely-populated areas like Paris and drive the traffic towards Norway’s capital. Although Oslo doesn’t have the Mona Lisa or any attraction of that magnitude, it offers a similar European experience with less crowds and wait times in addition to having its own attractions, culture, and dining. With most of the world’s population becoming more urbanized, undertourism can help decrease the concentration of people in major cities.
As these terms become more and more mainstream, it’s important to watch the companies that are catering to these needs. Many of the small travel companies that specialize in these areas are doing a great job of re-branding themselves so that they don’t look like they are trying to compete with the large OTA’s. Instead, they are focusing on delivering an “experience” and trusting that the consumer will take as much time as possible to research exactly what they are looking for. The large OTA brands are focused on getting people in and out as quickly as possible and leave nothing to the imagination. Today’s consumer is interested in sharing, exploring, having fun in the experience and learning about things to do that no other sites will tell you about. “Off the beaten path” is an important direction in the future of travel.