Six future trends to shape global travel

PANKs, PUNKs, sharing homes and social media



A number of key trends are emerging in the global travel industry, according to the World Travel Market Global Trends Report 2013, commissioned together with Euromonitor International and presented at the WTM by a panel chaired by the BBC’s Babita Sharma.

The travel and tourism industry is expected to record growth averaging 4% increases for both arrivals and tourism spend for at least the next five years. Key trends emerging during this period will be:

1. PANKs and PUNKs: There are 23 million “professional aunts with no kids” in the United States alone, according to the report. They are smart, tech-savvy professionals who use travel to connect with nieces, nephews, godchildren or other children in their lives. The male version of the trend, the PUNKs (uncles instead of aunts) is just as viable, the panel said. Disneyland and Hawaii are examples of their destinations.

“With regard to tailoring [travel offers] to them, obviously you need to be talking to them and communicating to them through social media, having multiple platforms to ensure you’re reaching them and that the message is consistent across them,” Euromonitor International’s Caroline Bremner said.

2. Travel in Europe in the sharing era: Through sites such as Airbnb, HouseTrip and HomeAway, more people are offering unused rooms, apartments and more to travellers on a short-term basis. In Europe this will represent around $15 billion in global travel accommodation sales by 2017, according to the report.

3. Concierge goes mobile: The increasing use of smartphones means that “the concept of a mobile concierge is on the rise,” Sharma said. Hotel guests will demand real-time solutions to every problem and enquiry, and hoteliers who miss this trend risk losing out on business.

4. On safari, with the kids: Multigenerational holidays are growing, including families from countries like India and China, meaning that safari tourism in Africa, for example, must be family friendly and affordable.

5. Selling to 24-hour travellers: More hotels are utilising unused spaces to accommodate transient travellers during the day, not just overnight. Chains like Marriott are selling workspaces or vacant rooms by the day or hour.

6. Social media revolution: India is Facebook’s third biggest market, with 82 million users, but only a tiny part of its online potential has been reached. Around 300 million people in India will be online by 2017, according to the report, and three quarters of these will use social media.


[pictured: “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” at Disneyland Resort in California; photo Scott Brinegar/Disneyland]


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