It’s that time of year when travel research companies such as Phocuswright stare at a map, study recent traveler habits, and try to predict what will be the hottest travel destinations of the next year. Airlines and hotel properties find this data quite useful. They use it to plan ahead for the upcoming year and prepare for any ebbs and flows that might impact their flight or hotel availability.
At Room Key, we’re curious about that as well, but we’re more interested in how future travel trends will impact travelers themselves. Below are a few key trends that we found, and how they might impact your upcoming travel this year.
Off-Peak Travel Continues to Grow
It’s no secret that traveling outside of peak tourist season is better for your wallet and sanity. Scheduling your vacation for the “off months” means you don’t have to navigate the unseemly throngs of tourists that overtake popular attractions. It also means you can take advantage of lower prices as destinations try to fill hotel rooms and book tours.
Sometimes a location is cheap because it has been stereotyped as being a “winter-only” or “summer-only” destination. But, look beyond what is popular. For instance, people flock to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the summer for the warm weather and surplus of outdoor adventures. However, winter in the area can be just as adventurous with activities like ice skating, ice fishing, and snowmobiling just to name a few. In fact, “traditionally summer” destinations have grown much better at providing winter-themed escapes to attract off-season tourists to their magical winter wonderlands.
“Traditionally winter” destinations are doing the same. Utah, which is typically associated with winter ski trips, can make for an incredible summer getaway as well. With beautiful lakes in the north and fascinating rock formations in the south, Utah boasts miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for any time of year.
In 2019, travelers will continue to travel during months that are less busy and less expensive. Many will even be willing to risk rainy seasons or snow to experience popular locales without the crowds. A rising concern for “over-tourism” is driving this trend. Places like Machu Picchu and Venice are battling the effects of millions of tourists, which can cause irreversible environmental and ecological damage, wear and tear on historic areas, and negative impacts on residents. With this in mind, many travelers are now looking for lesser known destinations for their annual vacations.
More People Are Traveling for Taste and Authenticity
Cruises will continue to remain popular throughout 2019, but more than ever before, travelers want an authentic feel and taste of the places they visit. (Yes, pun intended.) The growing popularity of cooking shows and celebrity chefs means more travel focused on local food and cultural adventure. Just look at the booming craft beer and distillery scene in nearly every city in America, the growth of cooking classes as part of a tour package, or the explosion of global foodie destinations such as Manila or Bangkok.
Nearly every big city provides at least one Foodie Tour, like Tennessee’s Whiskey Trail, the Brooklyn Chocolate Tour, the Austin Eats Food Tour, the Savannah Taste Experience, or the Seattle Food Tour. Want to taste authentic German cuisine in Texas? Book the Comfort Inn and Suites in Fredericksburg, Texas, to explore and sample this original German immigrant community with its historic feel and nearby state parks. Or book a stay at the AC Hotel Bricktown to explore Oklahoma City’s thriving Asian District. If you’re looking for an authentic Cuban experience and dishes, the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Miami will put you on the doorstep of Little Havana, the Cuban neighborhood in Miami.
Not only do travelers want to taste the local culture, they want to meet those who are creating the dishes and immerse themselves in activities. Foraging for ingredients, taking personal cooking classes with local chefs, and skipping chain restaurants for hyper-local hidden gem dining experiences are just a few ways that travelers will immerse themselves in new cultures this year.
Time-Saving Purchases and Last-Minute Bookings Are Increasing
In 2019, travelers are predicted to be more impatient and more impulsive than ever. No one likes standing in long lines, and people are now willing to pay extra to avoid them. Tours that allow travelers to skip the lines were one of the most popular travel purchases in 2018. In fact, these time savers topped the lists of fastest growing trends in 2017 and 2018 as people opted to buy specialized tickets that gave them priority access to popular sites without having to wait in line. TripAdvisor sold 50% more skip-the-line experiences last year and now offers more than 1,200 skip-the-line tours globally, featuring attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Colosseum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
According to TrekkBlog’s 2018 Tourism Survey, 39% of responders also said they are waiting until the last minute to book tours, activities, and even hotels. TrekkSoft booking data shows that reservations for shorter activities lasting one to three hours tend to be booked in-destination or just before arrival. Last-minute travel bookings are likely the result of increasing “popular deals” and “flash sales” that become available through newsletters or travel alerts.
What this means for booking hotels is that third-party sites like Hotwire or Trivago are capitalizing on their questionable “One room left at this price!” practices. But here’s the truth on that… Hotels give these sites a certain number of rooms for them to sell. Seeing “One room left at this price” may only mean that this third-party site only has one room left of its allotted reservations. The hotel still has plenty of rooms left if you book through their own website. And, guess what? Those rooms are offered at the exact same price, or maybe even lower. If you’re a loyalty member, you’ll get an even better price.
Hotels Are Offering More Luxury Hotel Experiences
Personalized experiences like skip-the-line options have bled over to the luxury travel sphere, too. But as more and more people crowd this sector, hotels will offer more personal attention to elite guests. In 2019, hotels will partner with ultra-high-end brands to offer exclusive experiences for travelers.
The Park Hyatt in New York City, for instance, has teamed up with Tubereuse 40, an increasingly popular fragrance developed by boutique perfumer Le Labo. The hotel now offers the brand’s shampoo, conditioner, body gel, soap, and lotion in guest rooms and will even be opening a Le Labo retail space inside their spa.
Hotel brands like Marriott, Hyatt, Wyndham, and others will continue to up the high-end toiletry game for luxury travelers. (So take those samples home with you!) In addition, hotels will offer more luxurious spa packages, advanced concierge services, and personalized tours for guests who are willing to pay the premium.
Earth-Friendly and Empowering Adventures Are on the Rise
Riding roller coasters, bar hopping, and beach bumming are no longer enough. Today’s travelers want to have fun, but they want to do it in a sustainable and responsible way.
Frequent travelers are now looking for ways to give back and reduce their impact on global climate change at home as well as while they travel. They want eco-friendly lodging options, opportunities to volunteer in a new community, and shopping destinations that support communities in need. Even more so, travelers are choosing tour companies, transportation, and lodging that align with their core beliefs.
Most hotels know this and are focused on improving environmental sustainability. You’ve probably noticed signs in your hotel bathroom asking you to reuse your towels rather than requesting fresh, laundered ones every single day. Others are eliminating plastic waste by mounting refillable shampoo dispensers into showers instead of providing each guest with their own bottles. Hotel chains are working to reduce their environmental impact by cutting back on the amount of water they use and the amount of waste they throw away every day.
Specifically, Hilton already met their goals to reduce water consumption by 10%, and waste production by 20%. Hilton has also reduced their energy use, and up to 94% of Hilton’s energy use is now green. Hyatt not only tracks their energy and water usage, but also partners with the World Wildlife Federation to ensure that the seafood they use comes from sustainable waters. Marriott is shining in their efforts by reporting an 11% reduction in energy, a 3% drop in water use, and a 12% drop in greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. The hotel chain has a goal to reduce use in all three areas by 20% by 2020.
We’re proud of Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott, who are three of our founding partners. They set a good example for travel companies who are aiming to lower their carbon footprint. This means you can rest assured that when you use Roomkey.com to search for your next hotel stay, you’re not only searching for great rates, but you’ll book with hotels that put the environment first.
No matter which trend you choose to follow for your 2019 travels, Room Key offers more information on area hotels than third-party booking sites when it’s time to book a room. We’ll help you get a better feel for each hotel’s facilities and perks and let you compare prices for the top hotels in the area while you’re at it. With Room Key, you can compare loyalty member rates, research your options, and easily book directly with your hotel of choice. Here we go, 2019!