A new report highlights key trends in the travel and tourism industry for start-ups to tap into, including a new breed of tourist from emerging countries, and the rise of digital detox holidays.
The World Travel Market Global Trends Report, in association with market researcher Euromonitor International, reveals global tourist arrivals in 2012 will top one billion, showing growth of 3.4% over 2011.
Arrivals from BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – continue to boost tourism, while Europe and the United States are “vulnerable to austerity measures and traveller caution”.
“Concerns about economic instability in the eurozone continue to impact tourism demand, with southern Europe in recession in 2012, leading to a regional slowdown,” the report said.
“Limited tourism growth is expected for 2013, with a minimal difference over 2012. Countries are therefore increasingly looking to BRICs to boost arrivals and spending.”
Inbound spending in 2012 is predicted to show higher growth at 4.5%, reaching well over $US1 trillion due to fast-growing expenditure by visitors from emerging countries.
Medical and shopping tourism, rail, cruise and spas are expected to perform the best over 2012-2016, while online travel will continue to outperform offline in terms of value growth.
According to the report, emerging markets in particular are expected to see solid growth in online travel bookings as internet penetration increases, along with improved payment methods.
“Advanced economies dominate online travel sales and continue to record strong growth, while developing economies still lag behind, but are finally showing a steady performance,” it said.
“Online hotel reservations achieved the highest increase, driven by online travel agency sales.”
The report reveals consumers have also acquired a more central role in the travel industry thanks to more choice offered by the online travel revolution, impacting travel business models.
For example, a website called Tingo, which is owned by TripAdvisor, introduced a new business model in 2012, exploiting refunds and cancellations to gain the best hotel rates.
The website automatically rebooks travellers’ reservations when there is a price drop for the booked rooms up to 24 hours before check-in.
By reselling hotel rooms, the company charges a commission on any room that is sold, which is its major revenue generator.
“Tingo.com challenges hotel revenue management principles and their distribution approaches,” the report said.
“Independent tour operators, rail and car rental players could adopt the same pricing strategy. Tingo.com could also revolutionise the complex airline cancellation policies area.”
The report also highlights the rise of “digital detox holidays”, offering consumers an “escape” from the devices they are addicted to, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.
“Hotel technology-free packages offer discounts on stays or promote their relaxation-inducing hotel amenities, while others offer technology-free rooms,” it said.
“Hotels may look at digital detox packages as a means to improve guest wellness.”
“Technology-free spas, cruises and safaris present strong opportunities in the digital detox arena, as these offer an ideal context for consumers to disconnect and relax.”
“Promoting family time or quality ‘human’ time with loved ones is another aspect of the digital detox offering.”