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The traveller in the age of disruption

Brexit, climate change and advances in artificial technology are among the biggest factors responsible for changing the way customers now choose to travel. As a consequence of these developments, three key disruptive trends have emerged in the form of the mindful traveller, the eco traveller and the emerging seasonalities. With all three currently reflecting customer habits across the industry, here are the key findings in what determines the choice of the travel destination and the location and type of holiday people are choosing.

The mindful traveller:

  • Rapid change and uncertainty are reducing consumer confidence in European markets, driving customers like the mindful traveller to be more careful when shopping and to research best products at best prices.
  • Over the period 2017-2018, there was 36% year-on-year growth in searches related to price sensitivity and convenience, with Italy leading this trend at 73%.
  • A total of 84% of travel clicks on Europe's Bing Network came from queries that didn't feature a destination, suggesting that users are more open to discovering new ideas.

The emerging seasonalities:

  • "I travel the way I want, when I want" is the new norm as tourists look to take advantage of off-season travel opportunities and so are expecting new types of offers.
  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season have evolved into one of the most important travel booking periods of the year, with 24% year-on-year growth in 2017-2018 in travel searches related to these terms.
  • A total of 79% of Americans would consider an overseas trip in winter and bookings are soaring during the winter holiday sales.

The eco traveller:

  • With climate change front of mind, many consumers are turning to forms of travel focused on sustainable, local and eco-friendly experiences, with 53% year-on-year growth seen in search related to eco-tourism between 2017-2018.
  • Global travellers are going green and demand for eco-friendly and sustainable travel options are increasing: 84% want to travel sustainably, 73% are likely to book with a specialised provider and 79% are likely to choose eco-friendly accommodation.
  • Travellers who would spend more on eco-friendly travel include those in India (32%), Brazil (21%) and China (18%), but the factors impairing eco-travel are high costs (42%), lack of information or certification (32%), limited destinations (22%), being too time consuming (22%) and not having enough luxury or comfort (20%).

Purchase confidence is dropping among travel customers, with an emphasis on pricing coming even more to the fore, at times even impacting the choice of destination, location and type of holiday people are booking. Because users are looking to travel outside the peak seasons, the industry itself is also shifting into the off-season direction, with winter holiday packages, Black Friday deals, Travel Tuesday offers and mid-season travel discounts growing fast.

Likewise, due to disruptors such as climate change, value-based travel has been steadily growing, with people now increasingly looking for these types of holidays. However, because the major players within the travel industry aren't providing many such products, they're leaving only the niche and small providers to dominate the area, resulting in high costs and overall lack of trust.