Leveraging its unique position as a travel and technology leader, Booking.com, a global leader in connecting travellers with incredible places to stay, has delved into its insights from over 163 million verified guest reviews and research from 21,500 travellers across 29 countries, to reveal eight travel predictions for 2019.
2019 will see a focus on travellers making choices with extra significance as they look to add more purpose to their trips. Over half (56%) of global travellers agree traveling has taught them invaluable life skills, and
When looking at the most popular kinds of trips with purpose, 68% of global travellers would consider participating in cultural exchanges to learn a new skill, followed by a volunteering trip (54%) and international work placements (52%).
Easy does it
In 2019, "ease" will be the gold standard by which tech travel innovations will be judged. In past years, travellers have heard a lot of buzz around artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and speech recognition; in the coming year, the winning innovations will be those that can seamlessly offer these technologies as a practical solution to travellers. Think keyless room-access with your phone, personalised travel tips or a robotic concierge who can communicate with guests in their mother tongue.
Research has shown that the innovations that will have travellers most excited include real-time luggage tracking through a mobile app (57%) and having a single app for travel planning, booking and travel needs (57%). This is higher than the prospect of using self-driving transportation in the traveller's destination (40%).
2019 will also see more tech developed for use pre-trip at the research stage. Almost a third (31%) of global travellers like the idea of a 'virtual travel agent' in their home, using voice-activated assistants to answer travel queries, and one in five want to see technology such as augmented reality to help familiarise themselves with a destination before they arrive.
Watch this space – uncharted territories
NASA will start construction of its Lunar Space Station in 2019 (launching in 2022) and we'll continue to see considerable investment in orbital spaceflight. In 2019 and beyond, we will continue to push the extreme limits of where travel will take us and as space technology advances, even the prospect of space tourism will seem achievable with 40% of travellers confirming they are excited about the prospect of space travel and are open to experiencing it (38%).
Until space travel becomes a reality, 2019 will likely see new, seemingly impossible types of holiday home and hotels out of our imagination start to emerge before our eyes. Of most interest is under terra firma, with six in ten travellers (60%) confirming they want to stay in accommodation under the sea.
Up close and personal
2019 looks set to see rapid developments in the way travel information is consumed and used. Generic travel guides of the past will make way for increasingly short-form, hyper relevant and personalised content.
A third of travellers want someone or something to do the hard work and make travel recommendations for them and around two fifths (41%) want travel brands to use technologies such as AI to make travel suggestions based on past travel experience. In fact, over half would be excited about tech travel innovations such as a digital tour guide, bringing them a truly bespoke experience.
Reflecting increased global interest in social issues such as human rights, equality and working conditions, 2019 will see a more conscious traveller with even more questions being asked around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations before making a decision on where to visit. Currently almost half feel social issues in possible travel destinations is important when choosing where to go and over half (58%) choose not to go to a destination if they feel it will negatively impact the people who live there.
As travellers increasingly seek new and authentic experiences, they also want to ensure that they can travel in safety. Platforms such as Destination Pride are harnessing the power of multiple data sources to provide travellers with a ranking of how LGBT+ friendly their chosen travel destination is, while destinations and organisations will increasingly step up their support for women traveling alone.
Plastic not-so fantastic
Millennials and Gen Z travellers will look for sustainable experiences in their destination, while accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials. An overwhelming majority of global travellers (86%) say they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, with over a third willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction.
As travellers have a greater desire to travel with conscience, there will be an increase in the number of new travel start-ups and individual enterprises committed to shaping a new future for our planet's destinations, with intriguing technology at the core of their solutions.
The experience curator
Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018's major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further. 'Doing' will weigh equally with 'going', if not more, when it comes to travel reflection. For almost two thirds of travellers, experiences are now valued higher than material possessions, 2019 will see travellers packing in many different and authentic experiences, from where they eat and sleep to how they shop or watch their favorite sports game with an emphasis on creating moments that will bring us joy and comfort long after the fact.
In 2019, two fifths of travellers plan to visit a destination that makes them feel like a kid again. We'll see properties looking to add more childlike and playful touches such as ball pits and bouncy castles for adults to cater for a Millennial and Gen Z audience, who are the biggest groups who travel to feel like a child again.
Maximising the micro
Over half of global travellers report they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. It's a year that's predicted to be all about made-to-measure, bite sized travel with more curated itineraries squeezed into shorter time frames. Less is most definitely more as travellers are offered a more bespoke experience.
With continued innovations in transport, from more flight routes, easy, on-demand car rentals and real-time public transport insights, the micro trip will become more varied and tailored, making shorter trips more personal and rewarding. We'll also see a continued surge in desire to stay in unique and remarkable types of accommodation, which offer the chance to make a serious travel statement, even on the shortest of getaways.
Pepijn Rijvers, Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com comments: "2019 is set to be an exciting year for travel. With technological advancements, an ever more connected world and a continuously growing consumer appetite for the best travel experiences, we're poised for groundbreaking developments, taking travel to unexplored heights. With a mission to empower people to experience the world, Booking.com learns and innovates continuously and we've never been more excited to be at the epicentre of thrilling industry."