The Changing Face Of Travel Planning

Vishal Hanmattekar, Co-Founder & CEO, The Blueberry TrailsAn enthusiastic travel photographer documenting wonderful places and amazing people around the world, Vishal has over a decade and half of senior managerial experience in varied fields

The tremendous rate of technological evolution has impacted the travel industry just as much. With the rising acceptance of technology by consumers and the impact of mobile on the process of planning and executing holidays has completely revolutionized how the travel companies and the travellers look at travel planning. Here are a few trends which I feel will influence how travellers will look at planning holidays in 2019.

Experiences - We already know that travelers prefer experiences to things. Skift Research's 2018 U.S. Affluent Traveler Survey found that 67 percent of affluent travellers would rather spend their money on activities than on a nicer hotel, up 8 percent from last year. In addition, this trend of choosing experiences is common across all generations and demographics.

Local Experiences - A lot of this experiential travel is focused around local experiences delving in Art & culture, Culinary, Historic and more. Sudeepta Sanyal, COO and co-founder of The Blueberry Trails, an experimental travel company based in India says "Most of our travelers today seek immersive experiences which take them deep into the local culture and spirit of the destination. They would rather spend money cooking and dining at a locals house than on a fancy hotel room".

Emerging Destinations - Most mature travelers are moving away from the done and dusted destinations of Western Europe and Asia and are moving to newer and unexplored destinations such as Moldovia, Romania, Estonia, Oman, Israel, Jordon, and others. These destinations offer a very different and unique perspective to the holiday and also make for some interesting post travel conversations.

Personalization - Probably the biggest trend which has risen in the
last couple of years and continues to be strong is the desire for a highly personalized holiday which is designed around the travelers' tastes, interests, convenience and even budget. In a recent interview, GetYourGuide CEO Johannes Reck said that `true success in the future of travel comes down to personalization'.

Technology now makes it highly possible to customize each aspect of the holiday itinerary. Even in India, which has traditionally leaned towards Group travel, more and more travelers now seek to have their holidays designed from scratch as per their own wishes. There are travel companies in India now that cater to this rapidly evolving market.

67 percent of affluent travellers would rather spend their money on activities than on a nicer hotel

Leisure - A rapidly emerging trend is for Business travelers to utilize the opportunity to add some leisure time to their official travels. At The Blueberry Trails, we have travelers who while going to Asia or Europe for conferences and meetings, tend to extend their stays and explore and delve into the nearby destinations This could be a small 3-4 days extension or sometimes they also end up spending a couple of weeks more living the local life. In addition, many of these travelers now realize the need for a specialist to plan and execute these add-on days, which is not as simple as just booking a hotel room for the extended stay.

Solo Travel - Solo travelers have evolved into a huge market and are no longer just who we think they are. A lot of sub-categorization of solo travelers into Solo women (which constitutes the highest chuck), Retirees, Married/Committed people who also travel solo sometimes to connect with themselves, Young adults, and single people looking for love. These groups seek out travel planners to help them design a plan to achieve their individual travel goals.

Wellness/Yoga - Wellness travel worldwide is growing at double the rate as general tourism. Today's generation places a very high value on self improvement and realization and hence holidays are re-searched, planned and executed around mindfulness, movement and nourishment. While `partying destinations' are still craved amongst the young travelers, they are expanding their choices to include yoga, local community development and volunteerism.

Resurgence of the Trusted Travel Expert - Despite the technological advances and the ease of access to information, this has actually led to people increasing their preference for Human interaction, especially where bookings and confirmations are concerned. Indians specially and even world over, the deluge of information available on any destination on the internet makes it unnerving and difficult for most travellers to freeze and decide on a plan. Also speaking to a Human travel expert increases the trust factor while making, what is still in India, a high value and high involvement purchase decision.

The convenience of picking up the phone and talking to a travel expert is much more reassuring than having to go through tons of information online, which can also vary from site to site.