8 Need-To-Know Key Travel Trends For 2017
By WGSN Insider

Travel specialist Booking.com has issued its predictions for travel in 2017 with eight key trends. WGSN’s Sandra Halliday reports

Nov 29, 2016
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Get your passport at the ready along with your suitcase, as we reveal the key travel trends for 2017. The predictions from Booking.com include the further blurring of the lines between business and leisure travel, travellers becoming more adventurous in their destination choice but also embracing simple pleasures.

The eight predictions, based on surveys of nearly 13,000 in multiple markets, are:

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Instant Gratification 2.0

Technology is fuelling a more demanding and impatient traveller as 44% of travellers already expect to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple taps of their smartphone and over half (52%) expect their use of travel apps to increase in 2017. People want technology to eradicate problems, deliver answers to specific needs in the moment and enhance experiences with recommendations and shortcuts they haven’t thought of. And with all of the new developments in machine learning and AI, apps will go beyond mere functionality and evolve into “real companions, capable of predicting our own unique needs and catering to them before we even have to ask.” Use of smart, instant message technology that learns people’s preferences will be at travellers’ fingertips.

Getting to Business

The ‘bleisure’ boom means 2017 will see a further upswing not only in the blurring lines between leisure and business travel, but in the value attached to workplace travel opportunities. Of the 40% of global travellers who journeyed for business this year, 46% think they will travel even more for business in 2017 and 49% already extend their business trips to further enjoy the destination, while three quarters intend to do so the same or more in the coming year. No longer seen as lost time or a career inconvenience, business travel is increasingly appreciated as an opportunity to expand horizons, find inspiration and progress in a career. So much so that 30% of travellers would even accept a lower paid job if it meant they could travel more for work.

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Appetite to Discover

The discovered world has many undiscovered places and 2017 promises to see travellers unleashing their inner explorer as 45% plan to be more adventurous in their choice of destination in the coming year, while 47% want to see places none of their friends have been to. The company said it’s seeing evidence of a growing appetite to embrace undiscovered environments in an authentic way. And 56% of travellers would like to do more independent travel in 2017, a trend particularly prevalent among those from Brazil, India, the US, China and Thailand. 

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Mind, Body and Soul: one of the key travel trends for 2017

Mind, Body and Soul

Almost half of respondents (48%) see going on holiday as a moment to reflect and make better lifestyle choices. The coming year will see many travellers prioritising health conscious trips that promise harmony for the mind, body and soul – particularly those from India, China and Thailand. As many as 44% are interested in spa/relaxation travel and 38% in a health/wellbeing travel experience in 2017. The days of leaving paid holidays on the table at the end of the year are fading even in the most demanding work cultures, with over half (51%) intending to take more of their annual leave in the coming year than this year. In 2017, it won’t be uncommon to find a diverse range of SanctuStays, accommodations ranging from villas to apartments, resorts and more, offering complementary meditation facilities, health spas, wellness workshops and outdoor facilities to promote a holistic lifestyle and clearer path to self-discovery.

Go Green or Stay Home

There is a trend for both travellers and accommodations to be more environmentally and sustainably aware as well as responsible. Over a third (36%) of travellers plan to choose more eco-friendly travel options than in 2016 and 39% are interested in an eco-tour travel experience. Eco-friendly stays are no longer the preserve of the few, but an expectation of the many. As the year progresses we will likely see increased discussion around economic incentives such as tax breaks for eco travellers (41% of travellers would be in favour), introduction of an international standard for sustainable accommodation (41% in favour) and transport providers giving travellers more information about carbon offsetting (26% in favour).

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Simple Pleasures

The survey shows 58% of travellers plan to prioritise spending on experiences rather than material possessions while on holiday in 2017. Travellers are also becoming less interested in fancy embellishments and more interested in the small moments and simple pleasures of a journey. Only 10% of travellers said that a butler/concierge service was essential to enjoy their travel experiences in 2017. High-end toiletries also appear to be a thing of the past as only 13% of travellers said that these would be essential to enjoying their travel experiences in 2017.

The Human Touch

Interacting with amazing staff and forging genuine relationships on holiday will be an increasingly important hallmark of travel in 2017 as 42% of travellers say they wouldn’t stay in an accommodation without friendly/helpful staff, while accommodations such as B&Bs and Ryokans look set to continue as the most highly rated by visiting travellers. And 40% of travellers say they would not stay in an accommodation with more than three negative reviews. 2017 travellers are starting to understand that human touch is irreplaceable and crave this human interaction to make their holiday memorable. As a result, we can expect to see meaningful human interactions becoming the currency of travel in the months ahead, prompting huge advances in chatbot technology to match the warmth, personality and spontaneity of real human communication and connections.

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Fly Me to the Moon

Travel has become a lifestyle, not a luxury for increasing numbers, and many want to explore go beyond this world with 44% of people seeing a future holidaying in far flung corners of the galaxy or deep under the ocean. High-speed rail continues to advance and is scheduled to connect travellers to the remote corners of northern Africa. NASA is investing in a supersonic passenger aircraft that will allow for faster, greener, safer and quieter air travel. And a Tesla autopilot-enabled vehicle is scheduled to “drive” from Los Angeles to New York in the summer of 2017. “These advances are steadily stoking our imaginations, as well as our collective desire to explore beyond the horizon,” the company said.

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