It’s an exciting time in travel with ever-evolving technology giving travelers and travel agents new opportunities to explore. It’s also a time of increased travel by millennials and those who are seeking unique travel experiences, plus businesses are finding reasons to send their employees to meetings again. Travel agencies stand poised to serve millions of clients this year, some for the first time.
Adventure and destination travel
There are new trends in travel today, sparked by people seeking new adventures and experiences. Many of these kinds of trips are booked through travel agencies by people who really want to grasp the culture and do something unique. Some families are opting to take extended vacations together, giving their children a living history and geography lesson, while other travelers are looking to engage themselves in things like cooking classes or other cultural aspects.
Another type of travel that is seeing an increase in interest in 2016 is wellness travel. People are feeling the stress of daily living, and they want an escape. Spas are available to relax at, and some retreats allow people to forget about their lives for a time and focus on their spirituality and mental well-being. Resorts can give visitors time to eat healthily and do activities like meditation or yoga away from the day to day and mundane.
This specialization means travel agencies are able to uniquely deliver on a promise to their customers that cannot be found booking online – knowledge and the ability to provide an experience that the traveler will never forget.
The millennial traveler
One of the emerging trends when it comes to millennials booking travel is that they are shunning self-booking sites and turning instead to travel agents. There are two reasons for this, the main one being that the prevalence of travel websites has created information overload. Too much information makes it actually harder to decide what to do and where to go.
Over half of travel agents have seen an increase in bookings from millennials in the last two years, and some have said that almost a quarter of their new customers were millennial patrons. But, that’s not to say those families don’t want to travel together, and that is yet another trend on the rise.
One of the key things travel agencies must remember, particularly when booking millennials for trips, is to integrate shared economy services into the travel package. In Europe, Airbnb is growing rapidly thanks to both a web presence and the tradition of hostels.
Destinations are also kings when it comes to booking travel. It’s no surprise at the start of 2016 that travelers are looking forward to getting away to warmer climes. Orlando, Florida and Maui, Hawaii are very popular destinations along with places in the Caribbean and Cancun. All of these locations are warm and sunny, giving people a chance to thaw out a bit. New markets like the Dominican Republic are emerging as well, providing choices that travelers have not had before. Travel agents are the ideal solution for destination travelers as they can not only find the perfect place to go but also the perfect things to do once their clients get there, taking the stress out of the trip entirely.
European travel agencies are seeing a boost in clients booking trips that involve organized tours along with a rise in the number of clients taking cruises. German tour operators saw an increase of nearly 4% in business in 2015, and there are no signs that that trend will change for 2016. One of the niche types of travel seeing the biggest jump is river cruising, which now occupies one of the top ten types of travel booked for 2016, not just by Europeans but by Americans, too.
A better economy means better pricing
Another factor boosting travel in 2016 is the drop in oil prices. Car and airline travel are more affordable than ever before, making it possible to book trips that weren’t previously in travelers’ budgets. Helping US travelers book trips to Europe is an improved dollar versus the Euro. Many travel websites can handle basic international bookings, but to really get the right fit for hotel, airfare, and entertainment, travel agents remain the best bet.
Flying solo, literally
The solo traveler is becoming more common, something that hasn’t been that readily accepted even recently by excursion companies and cruise lines. The penalties some cruise lines charge for single occupancy is sometimes being forgiven, while some travel agencies are offering to find a travel companion for solo travelers to help save costs on room occupancy rates.
Technology at the ready
Travel technology improvements translate into a better financial situation for agencies as they improve efficiencies thanks to great software tools and faster searches. The travel agents’ bottom line is being bolstered by clients booking the same number of or even more trips this year as they have in years’ past – 95% of clients, in fact, according to one survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group. New technology also means you can to adapt your marketing techniques in such a way that allows you the flexibility to reach new clients on the sites they visit most, and retain your current customers by interacting with them on social media at any time, day or night.
Mobile devices are a great channel to deliver exceptional service to your clients. Travel trends in 2016 include wifi on cruise ships, so your clients can stay in touch no matter where they are in the world – on land or on the water. Think of the possibilities – should they decide to take a shore excursion, it’s easy for them to reach you and for you to book what they want.
Corporate travel is big again
Lastly, corporate travel is coming back. Nothing can replace that personal touch and that firm handshake to close a business deal. Travel agencies willing to specialize in the corporate client are the ones set to truly take advantage of this blooming opportunity.
Travel agencies in 2016 are in the perfect position to help their clients find the trip of their dreams with all of the amenities they seek. With the global economy looking promising, travel is on the rise and travel agents can deliver vacations to their clients that are an exact match for what they are looking for. This is looking like it will be a great year.