Travel Trends for 2017

I love watching things change in the travel and hospitality industries. Never a dull moment. Whether it is decor trends that change, or the plating of food, every year has some new, evolving trends that either shock us or surprise us. Wall colours, ways of travel, types of accommodation preferences, types of travellers and their expectations…here is what is being predicted for 2017:

Travel experiences

Travel experiences (Image cred: pixabay.com)

  1. EXPERIENCE. More and more travel experts say that travellers want experiences with some kind of purpose, especially when it comes to wellness and cultural education. Travellers want to have digital detox options and they want to experience different indigenous cultures. When I say experience, I mean travellers really want to experience certain things like working on farms, taking lessons from local artists and trying out local cuisines.
  2. CONSERVATION. Another trend that is growing quite quickly, is the trend of travelling with the purpose of conservation. Conservation of not only the planet, but also cultures, wildlife and more.
  3. MORE DESTINATIONS IN ONE TRIP. Travellers don’t go to one destination and stay there for two weeks anymore. Instead, they make the most of their time away from home and fit in as many destinations and experiences as possible. In South Africa, this is a huge trend as travellers want to see, for example, Cape Town and the Kruger National Park all in one trip.
  4. EXPERIENCE DRIVEN TOURS. Tour operators say that travel to Africa is booming. Travellers now want the true African Safari experience and less luxurious spa experiences. Things like walking safaris, canoe trails and fly camping should do the trick. Experience driven tours that encourage travellers to move at a slower pace while on holiday are a must in your planning for 2017 if you want to “wow” your customers.
  5. COMBINATION TRIPS. “High-low” safaris are also becoming very trendy in the travel industry, where travellers rough it with walking trails or canoeing and then end off their trip with a few days at a luxury lodge. Combination trips are definitely something to look into. Gosh PR also mentioned this at the THINC Africa Conference, hosted by HVS earlier this year, where they explained that UK travellers want something from both worlds in one trip. With South Africa having so many stunning beaches, we need to tap into this travel market, providing tours that combine safaris and beach holidays to travellers from around the world.
  6. LIVING ROOM-LIKE SPACES. With regards to decor, hotels have living room-like spaces to look forward to – moving away from the traditional front desk.
  7. CULTURE INSPIRED DESIGNS. Culture-centered designs where there is not much difference visible from the indoor spaces to the outdoor spaces is not necessarily a new trend, but it has increased in popularity.
  8. BOHEMIAN FOR BUDGET. Bohemian simplicity has become a popular design trend to follow, especially for budget hotels, with high-touch furnishings, but simple, environmental finishes.

References:

http://www.greenspot.travel

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com

http://www.travelweekly.com

http://www.goshpr.co.uk

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The changing business traveller

Business travellers are no longer just suits carrying briefcases.

E.S. Brits, 2016 – Bloggers, networking events, conferences and face-to-face meetings are the driving forces propelling business travel into a new era.  Recent surveys have found that Millennials are twice as likely to plan and undertake business trips when compared to Baby Boomers. New apps are introduced daily, catering to the unique needs of the corporate traveller, and travel programs now offer everything from expediting the boarding process to assisting travellers in avoiding flight delays.  As travel requirements change and new rules and legislation is implemented, the travel industry should also adapt and grow to account for the increased demand for specific business travel trends and needs.

Technology enables us to be in constant contact with our friends, and family. Between Skype and Google hangouts employees, colleagues and business partners can connect even when they are continents apart. But still, the good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting remains hard to substitute. The face-to-face meeting is however busy changing.

Changing business traveller

Changing business traveller (Image from: Skift.com)

For hotels, guesthouses and other travel destinations, business travellers are a very appealing market. If they want to successfully reach this lucrative market they have to stay ahead of the trends. The new business traveller’s needs have evolved; they are now looking for a temporary home-away-from-home paired with a fast, efficient and seamless experience that will enable them to work on-the-go. This new trend goes hand in hand with the following needs:

  1. Business travellers want a seamless experience through apps

In order to attract the growing market of corporate travellers, accommodation establishments need to make use of multi-screen bookings, allowing travellers to adapt their plans in an instant – to change bookings, book in or out, or even cancel bookings. Even better if the app can also link the traveller to local restaurants and coffee shops, transport, weather forecasts, and for the bleisure travellers, a sight or two to visit while on their trip.

  1. Enable the business traveller to maintain their workflow

When travelling for business, efficiency is key. Companies expect their employees to work, even if it is from a hotel room. Therefore, hotels and other accommodation establishments should offer Wi-fi and charging stations in the room and printing and other business facilities on-site – preferably open after hours. No matter who the traveller, Wi-fi remains an expense that most travellers would want to avoid, giving travel destinations who offer it free of charge a definite competitive advantage.

  1. Consistency

Corporate travellers often prefer to book with accommodation chains and hotel groups with a known brand. Surveys have found that business travellers rated hotel chains as a safer bet when travelling to different countries or locations. But that does not mean that independent hotels should be dismayed. They can compete in this market by making sure their marketing advertises exactly what the traveller can look forward to, and then deliver on that promise. Show off the amenities that will really matter to this group of travellers, e.g. your big rooms equipped with a work desk, displaying the free Wi-fi sign. But make sure all the rooms look like that picture. Remember, consistency builds trust and not delivering what you promised breaks that trust.

  1. Location, location, location

Business travellers prefer to book their accommodation close to key locations, where there are reliable transport and dining facilities in close proximity. Pair this with stable connectivity and facilities that will ensure a workday without frustration and there you have it! Advertise accordingly, emphasising safety, comfort and productivity.

  1. Loyalty and rewards programs

Incentives can be a successful motivator to ensure repeat business and return guests. For a corporation making a booking for their employees’ business trip, incentives that have proven to be effective include a reduced corporate rate for small businesses, loyalty packages for large businesses, and special business services that will ensure continuous workflow.

  1. Keeping everything in one location

Conference facilities, space to have face-to-face meetings, work space for group sessions and breakout rooms are indispensable for any business traveller. Having these facilities in the same location is ideal.

  1. Going cashless

Exact record-keeping is one of the headaches of travelling on the company’s dime. Going digital makes the whole process easier, allowing travellers to pay directly from their mobile devices while saving an exact record of the expense.

  1. Shorter lines and no waiting times

The old saying, “time is money”, rings very true for corporate travellers, who require fast and seamless check-in and check-out experiences. They will look for destinations that go digital, allowing guests to check in and out on their mobile devices and apps, as well as key-less entry to their rooms.

  1. Different is sometimes better

Some business travellers consider the somewhat unconventional accommodation options when going on a corporate trip – anything from bed and breakfasts, self-catering apartments, cabins, lodges and even tree houses! Although the demand for traditional hotel rooms is still high, this growing trend indicates that business travellers are willing to be adventurous and to think out of the box. That means you should too. Accommodation establishments should highlight what makes them unique. Never be afraid to show what else, over and above the business centre and workspace, you offer.

  1. Healthy travellers

The global health trend has extended to the business travel market. Hotels and other accommodation establishments, airports and other business facilities have started to offer new services that focus on the well-being of the traveller. These services include relaxation areas, exercise classes, and juice bars.

Business travel is an ever growing market, and if tapped into successfully, can be very rewarding.

The different kinds of hotel guests

I love watching people. In fact, I think human beings are one of the most interesting and terrifying things at the same time. How many times do we tend to say that we wish we could understand someone else?

My point is – no one is the same. No one thinks in the same way and therefore no one acts or reacts in the same way. This goes for hotel guests (your customers) as well.

Types of guests

Types of guests – Image from: http://www.lifehacker.com

I’ve done some research on the kinds of hotel guests you can expect to arrive and came up with the following:

The Free Independent Traveller

Tourism specialists don’t call him FIT for nothing. FIT’s are fit to do everything themselves. It’s all about making their own decisions, bookings and, yes, mistakes. Even though travel agents have much more knowledge on certain topics, FIT’s (currently one of the fastest growing types of tourists) have found that the internet allows for many travel planning opportunities. More and more bookings are done via Facebook these days, so be sure that you have someone who checks your social media pages on a day-to-day basis. These guests can be anything from budget travellers to glamour seekers. Be sure to identify their likes and dislikes as quickly as possible and make suggestions accordingly. Note to self: Identify guest’s favourite social media port and send them links to things they might want to see in your area. With FIT’s it is all about internet savvy and engagement through the right channels.

The Foreign Free Independent Traveller

Pretty much the same kind of guest as your FIT. The only difference is that when it comes to foreign countries, the help of a travel agent might still be called upon. They still, however, compare different places and prices – remember that the I-pad has become number one on many travellers’ packing lists. All it takes is the press of a button. These guests need some assistance and tips from your side. Be creative and give them a customized map of your area with everything you know they’d like to see. Think foreign.

Group Inclusive Tourists

These “groupies” tour in groups in order to save some money. The group doesn’t necessarily have the same common interests, but the travel costs are lower. Obviously these guests won’t be your big spenders, so keep them happy by keeping them comfortable.

Single Ladies

All the single ladies, all the single ladies….put your hands up for these girls who have taken the travel industry by storm. Everywhere I go I see promotions for ladies travelling on their own. Way to go for not letting singleness stand in the way of you wanderlust! Many establishments have special promotions running for this guest type – so many great opportunities here! Focus on keeping them safe, helping them meet new people and pampering them and you’ll be sure to gain a few extra guests!

These types of guests can be segmented even further – check out our next post on the different guest segments.

Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or connecting with Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – Inevitable in the travel sector

29 January 2014. Johannesburg. Constructive criticism tends to leave a bitter taste in your mouth when the words are spoken. Still, it is one of the things I believe to have been omitted from many parts in the travel industry that has to be brought back in order to ensure quality customer service.

Customers have become educated in more than one way and not knowing about certain problem areas within a tourism or hospitality organization might just be your downfall. In fact, customers are so well educated on such an array of subjects that some have become masters in constructive feedback. Think about it: most people, including you, wouldn’t hesitate to call a waiter back if the coffee is cold or the steak is not prepared to perfection. Especially when a substantial amount of money is being spent.

Constructive Criticism

Constructive Criticism

Like any person, hearing (and accepting) that you’ve done something wrong is one of the hardest things to hear.  Many people immediately react aggressively or impatiently. Others don’t know how to react and decide to ignore the situation (which is, by the way, one of the worst things you could do).

Why have we not been able to teach our employees to handle constructive criticism? Why can’t we handle constructive criticism ourselves? Why are we afraid of hearing things that might in fact assist us in becoming market leaders?

I believe the reason is quite simple:

We’ve come to think that we’re invincible. South Africa is such a beautiful country, that we sometimes feel we can just sit back and let the sunny South do its own marketing and PR with it winning nature’s lottery and all. Unfortunately, domestic and international customers notice our lack of attention to their expectations and with such a wide variety of establishments to choose from, tourists now choose the ones that take their needs to heart. It’s not just about a pleasant holiday anymore. It’s about building relationships with people and places to which you can one day return again. It’s about trust. People are willing to pay more for quality customer service. Fast service is good, but quality service is excellent. Customers don’t remember days; they remember moments.

We need to start listening to our customers and friends from the industry – that is the only way we will be able to identify loopholes in the customer’s journey on which we can act.

Travelling Mystery Guest assists establishments with creating their customer journey map, visits establishments in a customer’s capacity and provides customized, comprehensive and constructive feedback and suggestions on aspects that need attention with regards to the customer’s experience. The company also offers regular workshops on customer service, customer behavior, storytelling and social media and presents these workshops at your establishment.

Workshops for February and March include the following topics:

–          And THAT’s why the customer is in charge

–          Exceeding your customer’s expectations without too much effort

–          Content Creation and Sharing

–          Facebook marketing

–          Twitter marketing

–          LinkedIn and Google+ marketing

For bookings and more information, contact Renate de Villiers on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za or 079 110 5674. Workshop topics and content information will also be readily available here on the TMG blog.