I'm a sucker for consumer trends - please see a previous post on Sterling Brand's "On the Future: A Forecast of Near Future Trends." So I was happy to spend a Saturday night (yes, I'm a little lonely post-Midwinter Meeting) reading through Skift's new report, "Megatrends Defining Travel in 2015" (registration and e-mail required to download).
Skift is a New York City-based industry intelligence and marketing organization focused on news, information, and data from the travel industry. Their new trend report counts as their first magazine and offers projections for the coming year.
The report starts from the perspective that big consumer and tech changes that are playing out in the larger world can be seen in user habits in travel and its subsectors. There really aren't separate silos - what consumers experience in one sector affects their expectations in other sectors. For Skift, that means that there is value in "being fanatically focused on the changing consumer behaviors across all sectors." The big three themes identified in this report: Mobile, Seamless, Experiential. All of this sounds familiar, right?
So, here's a quick look at Skift's trends and some highlights that might resonate in libraries:
Hospitality is now driving innovation in travel
Organizations are taking inspiration from all sectors to rethink experiences and "every obvious part of hospitality is being turned over, questioned, and retooled." One of the big issues in a market where consumers are self serve and mobile-dependent is working to find the right mix of digital and human interaction, so as to create quality personalized experiences that still maintain and respect patrons' sense of privacy.
The conferences and events industry is going through a creative renaissance
Event planners are thinking interdisciplinary, cross-sector, new voices, informal learning, and peer-to-peer networking to provide audiences with more layered meaning, context, and personal value. And yes, I think we heard a lot of this at the recently-wrapped 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting, so it's good that a lot of us are on the same page.
The rise of the boutique destination
Local, authentic, and unique experiences resonate with existing patrons and bring in new visitors.
The rise of ubiquitous booking
Mobile devices are increasing consumers' desire for streamlined, efficient, and quick services - including more seamless search features, fewer taps and scrolls, and the ability to start transactions on one device and finish them on another.
Natural semantic search brings quality choices to travelers
Travelers expect more than just keyword-matched search results. They expect search results that respond to natural queries ("Where can I go with a beach, nightlife, and stuff to do for the kids?") that adapt to misspellings, abbreviations, and slang and that factor in past behaviors.
Mobile pay and wearable tech move from concept to real-world disruptor
Mobile payment and wearable devices will allow users to make faster selection and payment decisions, but will require some standardization of the payment experience.
Travel brands reimagine themselves as lifestyle connoisseurs
Consumers, especially millennials, are seeking deeper connections to brands' values and the aspirational lifestyles that they represent. Social media, relationships with community influencers or taste-makers, creative events, space design, and local or distinctive cultural connections can help organizations convey a certain lifestyle with which their patrons want to be associated.
The real and literal disruption of travel is a real threat
No sector exists in a vacuum. For travel, that means that global disruptions - conflicts, economic uncertainty, labor unrest, and political turmoil - affect customers' decisions.
The online travel duopoly (Priceline and Expedia) won't reign forever
New players, sometimes with familiar names, are leveraging their reach into new areas. For travel, that might includes players like Amazon, Google, TripAdvisor, Apple, or even Facebook.
Business travelers adopt new rules for travel
"Bleisure" - one of my new favorite words - reflects the blending of business and leisure in today's society. Spaces and experiences that increase productivity while still offering opportunities to relax, and a little bit of luxury, exemplify the bleisure trend. Consider the promotion of in-airport and in-flight wifi as tools for both productivity and entertainment or the availability of co-working lounge spaces and on-the-go meeting spaces in hotels.
Alternative travel is now a reality across the world
Immersive experiences - driven by increased access to information, niche service providers, and the sharing economy - provide deeper and more meaningful connection with locals. These features are becoming more desirable and accessible in almost every city and destination.
Downsizing on design & moving towards simplicity
Clutter is out. Space is in. Mobile personal devices, wireless service, and growing interest in collaboration are helping clear the way to open and flexible spaces that allow users to configure to their needs.
Shining light on the dark period: mobile is moving in-market
Mobile devices, pervasive connectivity, and mobile payments are encouraging users to search and discover on the fly and make in the moment decisions from wherever they are.
Travel brands look to Instagram for the influence bump
The visual - especially through tools like Instagram - is being used to promote enviable experiences with increasing opportunities for viral movement through social media. Once produced by professionals and promoted through influencers (those with lots of followers), organizations are now leveraging the quantity and personality of everyday users.