Four Trends Shaping the Future

Marketing Coordinator
Published 12/15/23
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In this year’s 8th annual edition of “The Year in Review and the Year Ahead,” Miles Partnership, Phocuswright and PhocusWire came together to discuss four major, need-to-know travel trends and technologies you’ll want to be aware of to stay ahead of the curve. Below are some key takeaways from this year’s webinar. 

Sustainability Insights: 

Sustainability is trending, and that’s not changing anytime soon. In a recent sustainability survey around transportation, economic, lodging and destination selection, Phocuswright found dramatic differences between the sustainable choices travelers said they would make vs. what they actually chose. When asked, 50% of U.S. travelers said they would be more likely to choose a method of transportation based on its carbon footprint (vs. convenience), however, only 8% ended up acting on that belief. This gap between belief vs. behavior is clearly evident.

While many travelers express concern and interest in tackling sustainability issues, when it comes down to it, most simply don’t have the necessary information to make sustainable choices while on the road. The data shows that travelers want to make good choices but don’t necessarily feel as though it’s their personal responsibility to discover on their own. Destinations and hotels need to arm them with the information from the beginning to aid in the planning and booking process, making the information digestible and easy to understand (this means a multichannel approach vs. a siloed channel). Most importantly, share the why - understanding the justification behind sustainable actions will work to close this gap. 

The recent initiative by the Colorado Tourism Office, "Do Colorado Right," does a great job of educating both visitors and locals through fun and engaging content.

Social Media in Travel: 

The use of social media in trip planning continues to gain momentum, with 51% of U.S. travelers leveraging the use of social media when planning a leisure trip in the past 12 months. While we know that younger generations are most heavily influenced by social platforms, there has been a 7% increase in the use of social platforms for trip planning among those aged 55 and older (specifically among Instagram and TikTok). 

Facebook followed closely by Instagram are most heavily used for research in the choice of destination, how to get there, where to stay and activities during the trip.  However, viewing content from people that travelers know is 2x more influential than any other OTA, streaming channel or influencer. When asked, 55% of U.S. travelers say they share their experiences on social media either during or after their trip. This content will be the most influential (regardless of age) when it comes to getting travelers to book your destination. 

Generative AI (in action): 

It’s hard to believe that the public release of ChatGPT just passed its one year anniversary. Generative AI is still creating a buzz. Research shows a positive awareness and consistent interest in adoption of generative AI in travel. A recent survey by PhocusWire found that nearly 80% of travelers were familiar with generative AI. The percentage that stated they would be somewhat or extremely comfortable using it in trip planning ranged from 30% (France) to 50% (U.S.).

And what about the tourism industry? Industry capabilities could include content creation, staff training, personalized recommendations and more. Despite this, practical capabilities and applications of AI in the tourism industry have yet to be implemented. Some key use cases to consider include: 

  • Travel planning and itineraries: AI-enabled, conversational search that provides a tailored itinerary. Examples include Roam Around, mindtrip and Tailbox.
  • Customer support and management: For AI-generated text or video that enhance guest communication and query, check out nlx and HiJIffy.
  • Content marketing generation: Gen AI that designs copy, images and promotional materials such as Listify, Jasper and copy.ai.

Transformational Tech: 

Yes, generative AI is getting a lot of attention these days, but let’s not forget there are plenty of other hot technologies out there ready to stir up the scene. Companies such as Actabl, MEWS and Cloudbeds are bringing real-time revolution to hoteliers. These companies specialize in integrating operations, business intelligence and comprehensive guest management functionalities in order to optimize staffing resources, create better guest experiences and bring the right information to the right people, at the right time.

Web3 is proving itself in travel, primarily via trust verification technologies (in or outside of the metaverse). Check out this article by PhocusWire to read more on how Aruba is launching its first digital travel credential, allowing visitors to pass through border checkpoints without their physical passports. 

Finally, every year, Phocuswright in partnership with PhocusWire share out a list of “hot” startup companies you might want to keep a pulse on. A few of our favorites include:

  • Autoura: This startup is currently being trialed in San Francisco and other U.S. cities, operating local tours in autonomous vehicles, narrated by AI-powered tour guides.
  • Legends: Founded by two women and the winner of the Phocuswright Global Startup 2023, this company has created a space that allows travelers to opt into sharing location, photos and data directly from their phone to you.
  • Venus Aerospace: This hypersonic jet’s claim to fame is a one-hour global flight all while being cost effective. Running on hydrogen fuel, the rocket will reach up to 170,000 feet and cross 5,000 miles in the matter of an hour.

For more information, insights and research on these topics, be sure to check out our full webinar “The Year in Review and the Year Ahead” in partnership with Phocuswright and PhocusWire. Plus, save your seat for our upcoming webinar “The Power of Generative AI & ChatGPT: What it Means for Tourism & Hospitality,” coming up on Thursday, April 25, 2024.