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  • Writer's pictureBradie Walsh

Looking Into the Future – 5 key trends for the travel industry 2020

Congratulations! You and your travel business have survived the 2019 year. So, what’s next?

As we approach the new year, it is essential to remain vigilant in keeping up with the latest industry trends. After all, with travel sales projected to continue slowing into 2020 (Statista), and tour operators desperately need to explore new and unique opportunities to maintain an edge in the consolidating and increasingly competitive market.

So, what are the key trends we are seeing that will take center stage in 2020 which you should be preparing your business for?

1. Ecotourism:

Ranging from ecologically sustainable travel, to adventures which actively seek to experience nature in its purest form, ‘ecotourism’ has continuously flourished over the past decade. You can bet 2020 will be no different.

In Australia particularly, ecotourism represents an emerging opportunity, with 21.6% of Australians seeking a “total ecotourism experience” for their next holiday, but only 1.1% experiencing one during their last trip (Roy Morgan).

This broad shift in sentiment amongst tourists holds ramifications for not just operators specialising in nature experiences, but for all travel companies alike - with 71% of travellers believing that travel companies should offer consumers with more sustainable travel choices (

In preparing for 2020, tour operators cannot afford to ignore the shifting expectations of consumers. Whether you offer more nature experiences or simply make your business more eco-friendly, you can be sure you’ll better please the growing number of customers labelling themselves as ‘ecotourists’ in 2020.

2. Cultural Tourism:

A direct response to the growing issue of over-tourism, cultural tourism is centred around experiencing all things deeply engrained in local cultures.

This trend in tourism seeks to replace traditional tourist traps in favour of sites and experiences with greater cultural and historical significance - and it’s quickly gaining in popularity.

Globally, cultural tourism is on the rise, with 40% of all international tourists considering themselves “cultural tourists” (UNWTO). Likewise, for our local tour operators, interest in cultural tourism in Australia is strong, with 48% of all overseas visitors attending at least one cultural attraction (ABS).

Are you offering your customers cultural experiences? If not, you could be missing an opportunity to extend your reach and tap into this emerging travel trend. Introduce new and unique travel products that leave behind the crowds in favour of locally engrained experiences in 2020 and you’ll be sure to be reaping the rewards soon.

3. Personalisation:

Personalised travel remains the new kid on the block in the world of tourism. As a natural extension of a digitally integrated industry, personalised tourism involves catering nearly all aspects of travel itineraries to best match consumers preferences.

As a roll-on effect of digital empowerment and the rise of targeted marketing practices, consumers have grown to expect more customised experiences, with many now frowning upon the more rigid travel packages of old.

However, all is not lost! This is a fantastic opportunity and statistics have already shown the success travel agencies and tour operators are experiencing introducing greater options to consumers across their travel booking systems, with agency bookings increasing from 17.5% to 24.3% between 2017 and 2018 (TrekkSoft).

Travellers today, more so than ever, have a do-it-yourself attitude. This has created an increasing need for tourism businesses to better cater to their customers or risk losing their business altogether. In 2020, make sure your tourism business seeks new and unique ways to incorporate customisation of its offerings, so it best meets the constantly shifting individual desires of its customers.

4. Instagrammability

As a travel business in 2019, you are more than likely no stranger to social media. The technology has had massive implications worldwide, with 97% of millennials regularly sharing photos via social media (MDG Advertising).

However, in the age of social media, there is one platform which has recently established itself firmly as the king amongst millennial travellers: Instagram.

The importance of the platform and its influence on the tourism industry cannot be understated moving into 2020, with 40% of millennials saying they consider how “Instagrammable” a location is when planning a trip (MDG Advertising).

Although online travel suppliers have demonstrated a growing understanding of the promotional power of these online platforms, with 79% using Facebook Ads to promote their travel business (Sojern), it is becoming equally as important to consider the “Instagrammability” of the travel products themselves.

In 2020 it will be essential that you ensure your travel offerings are best catered to the modern traveller. Where possible, seek to incorporate social media platforms and Instagram directly into your experiences. Something as simple as providing customers with hot tips on the best Insta locations could be the thing which truly distinguishes your travel business next year!

5. Digitally Empowered Tourism:

From customer reviews to Virtual Reality (VR) tours, there is no doubt technology has already revolutionised the tourism industry and this shows no signs of slowing down.

Technology, in some way or another, has facilitated all previously mentioned industry trends. Furthermore, the growing empowerment of individuals is drastically changing the way travel companies are interacting with their customers.

One such changing digital landscape is search. Consumers are now using search to discover experiences more than any other tourism product.

According to Google, in the 12 weeks leading up to a trip, travellers are three to eight times more likely to search for travel experiences than hotels or flights. Additionally, travellers who book their activities ahead of time spend 47% more on lodging and 81% more on transportation.

As an online travel supplier in 2020, it will be important to ensure your digital presence and Search Engine Optimisation are optimised to best capitilise on these highly valuable and digitally empowered customers. The best way to do this is to ensure you have a website with an embedded booking button. One tool which facilitates the sale of travel through your website via a simple plug n play system is MySites. And for operators looking to get online quickly and easily MySites integrates seamlessly with OperatorHub – a fully integrated Tour Operator software that automates your operations while giving you increased control over your business.

Want to discuss how you can take advantage of these key trends in 2020? Contact us for a demo to see how our technology can help you make 2020 an even better year.

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