As the year turns, interestingly so do mindsets and preferences shift. Analysts take out their algotharims, astrologers their charts and every one sets out to map the path of the forthcoming year. TravelScapes speaks to travel pundits –market leaders from different segments, of tourism to find out their top five predictions for tourism in 2017.
Ts Gurpreet K Sekhon
Dr. Ankur Bhatia
Executive Director, Bird Group
The dynamic man behind one of the most prolific travel conglomerates in the country, predicts growth within all sectors of the Indian travel space.
Growth in Aviation: The Indian aviation industry will experience growth with additional capacity by domestic full fare airlines as well as LCCs. This will further trigger lower fares and good packages by airlines, thus encouraging travel.
Opening of new regional routes: The UDAN scheme launched by Ministry of Civil Aviation, will spur growth for aviation in regional sectors. This will encourage domestic carriers to deploy capacities on these routes.
Continued growth for hospitality: Although the hospitality sector may not witness any new significant openings in 2017, the industry will experience growth. The industry witnessed some growth in 2016, which will hopefully continue in 2017 with Average Room Rates (ADRs) and Average Room Rates (ARRs) increasing. There will hopefully be more foreign tourist arrivals in 2017.
GST to bring positive changes: The introduction of GST in 2017 is expected to be a welcome move for the hospitality industry and will rationalise multiple tax structure. Implementation of GST will benefit the industry by lowering costs for consumers and facilitating seamless movement of products across the country.
Measures to recover from demonetisation impact expected: Amongst challenges such as pollution and terrorism, the travel industry is also reeling under the impact of demonetisation. In 2017, we are hopeful that the government will work towards gaining momentum in this area that will help the industry recover from its impact.
Vice President Sales, Marketing and Distribution, India, AccorHotels
The sauve hospitality professional with 24+ years of experience, sees increasingly challenging and demanding scenario with more demanding and aware customers.
Same-day booking is here to stay: Unlike popular perception, guests – especially business travelers do not believe that they would get the lowest price by booking ahead of time. The trend is mirrored in the fact that almost half of the hotel bookings today for business hotels are made zero to three days prior to departure versus a smaller fraction that books weeks ahead. That said, more people will book ahead of time when traveling in groups, especially during holidays.
Rise of Social Selling in Hospitality: In today’s hyper connected world, guests are increasingly turning to social media platforms for research, comparison and community input. Hoteliers need to understand that by the time customers end up on their website, they are almost at the end of the buying process. They have done all their research, narrowed down their options, and already established a relationship with the hotel brand. This is where social selling comes in. It is, therefore, a great wayto build a stronger bond between guests and hoteliers. In 2017, we will see more hotel marketers leveraging social selling to build meaningful relationships and even hammering out sales deals.
More women traveling solo: According to a recent report, more than half of all single-member overnight trips in the country were made by women. As more women travel for business or leisure, safety and security is of utmost priority. Hotels are increasingly customising their service offering to cater to single women travellers’ needs. In the coming year, we will see an introduction of more innovative, customised, meaningful and pragmatic services for female travellers.
Domestic travel gaining momentum: 2015 witnessed 5.7 million foreign tourists arriving in India; 18 million Indians planned international tripsversus1290 and one million domestic trips as per MoT. The scale at which domestic travel is poised to grow is tremendous. Also, with regional air connectivity improving, more people from Tier II and III cities are turning to travel as the primary leisure option. Over the last 18-20 months, we have seen an increased interest from non-metro cities. According to industry estimates, spending on leisure travel is now maximum in non-metro cities and this number will continue to increase in the coming year.
Surge in online bookings: While guests were already using the Internet to plan and book their travel, owing to demonetisation, we will see a greater percentage of guests going cashless. This will prompt hoteliers to offer more ways of enabling digital payments –beyond just debit and credit cards. Some of the hotels have already introduced features like personal wallets and we expect more hotels gearing up for the rise of the digital economy in the coming year.
Jt. Managing Director,
The man who wears many hats, the force behind South Asia’s most awarded DMC,
Sr. Vice President, IATO and 2017 President of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) predicts experiential travel as the new way of the travel world.
More experience oriented travel: People will travel more for experiences and special interests rather than just culture. Travelers today are moving away from the canned museum experience and want to know more than just about the history of a place. Local customs, local habits and the way of everyday life in a location –traditions for festivals and marriages. All in all an authentic experience, rather than touristy ones are the call of the day.
Shorter lead times: In the good old days, international travellers would book trips to India 8-14 months in advance. Today we find high value trips being planned weeks out. This trend of booking later, does cause issues in forecasting future growth and trends. It is not unusual for us to have requests for groups less than two months before departure. It seems the trend is here to stay and lead times may grow even shorter.
More expectations from hotels: Hotels will have to adapt and increase their service offerings to be more competitive in a tight market. Travelers want luxury within the budget. There is a focus on personalised and unique experiences, as well as an expectation of safety and hygiene in accommodations.
More active marketing by State Tourism Boards: Traditionally quiet states in India will start getting more active in marketing themselves to the global tourism market. We have already seen this at IATO, where states are more proactively approaching us to work together.
Greater challenges in wake of GST: The Indian tourism industry will face greater stress and uncertainty as we transition to a new GST system, as such large changes make people hold on discretionary expenditures like travel. The recent demonetisation showed that. A fair amount of pain due to ambiguous rules and policies is expected.
Commenting on MICE trends, Kohli cites SITE:
Incentive Travel Works: 99 per cent buyers believe incentive travel is effective in achieving important business objectives. 60 per cent plan to increase the number of people eligible for incentive travel awards and nearly half have increased budgets.
World Economy: A majority of both buyers and sellers say that the world economy has the potential to negatively impact their travel programs. Creating value becomes, hence, paramount amidst economic concerns.
Proving Value: Measuring the effectiveness of incentive programs is limited with less than 25 per cent of buyers “always” or “almost always” tracking ROI. Lack of measurement could make these programs vulnerable during tough economic times.
Terrorism/Border Security: Almost 80 per cent of buyers see a negative impact of terrorism on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs.
One of the most respected professionals in the travel, tourism and hospitality representation space, leading the way for over 25 years in the sector; she anticipates age segments playing a major role in travel choices.
Increasing domestic travel : There shall definitely be a surge in domestic travel –as has been the trend. More travelers are expected to head on journeys to discover the temples of South India or on holidays to East India. Goa as always, shall continue to be a destination of choice.
Distinct patterns amongst the various age groups: 25-35 age groups increasingly look at adventure, self drive, single destinations, wine tasting and other unique experiential travel. 35-50 tick off from a bucket list to unique places such as Siem Reap or Machu pichu, or on treks to various mountains, North/South Pole ice breaking expeditions and more. Another trend that is strongly emerging is ‘senior citizen’ travel to places which have enough sightseeing, heritage and night life.
Health Travel: Traveling for health started picking up momentum in 2016 and shall continue to do so. This travel could be to the various health centres, resorts in India or worldwide.
Travel is here to stay: Incentive groups continue to travel and look for new experiences.
Destination weddings return bigger and better: Destinations shall go more exotic and shall move further from traditional favourites to more exclusive destinations.
Regional Sales & Marketing Manager,
South Asia, Cathay Pacific Airways
The professional with 15 years of experience with one of the most premium international airlines feels customer loyalty, technology and personalisation shall be the key factors driving the aviation business.
Loyal customers will be a key contributor to business : Loyal customers form the backbone of any market. The bank of loyal customers for any airlines will play an important role towards maintaining a healthy business.
Technology is paving the new way: Technology has touched every aspect of our lives and aviation is not an exception. Whether it is booking assistance via mobile apps, streaming in-flight entertainment on your personal devices or self-service baggage drops - they are all here to stay.
Personalisation at every step: For the aviation industry, offering personalised service to the customers will be very important along with keeping pace with the progressing traveler needs.
Increasing front-end business: Front end business will be an important growth area in the coming year. The Indian economy has shown constant growth over the last one year giving rise to many more front end travellers.
Growing leisure travel in India: Traditional one or two holidays a year have increased to three holidays, with Indians looking at making best use of longer weekends with short getaways. Gaining maximum mileage from increasing leisure trips from India, airlines will look at leveraging the changing travel pattern.
Expedia in India
A man with his finger on the pulse of the industry with 16 years of experience in top travel and hospitality organisations, currently responsible for marketing some of the best known global online travel brands, foresees underwater experiences and healing vacations as taking the lead this year.
Underwater Experiences: An interesting trend that will come to limelight in 2017, will be under-water experiences, from the increasing amount of underwater lodges and hotels popping up (or down) to the somewhat bizarre clustering of underwater interment possibilities. There are even a few dining options underwater!. It will be fascinating to see travelers experience underwater life and explore more of this.
Multi-destination travel: Multi-destination travelers who travel to one place and for the love of driving, visit all the nearby places, are on the rise.
Healing Vacations: The concept of “wellness” has become a mainstay in travel. Kamalaya on Koh Samui Island in Thailand and Rancho La Puerta in Mexico are some places for wellness focused vacations.
Travelers go solo: Solo travel is another trend that will see more participation from the under 35 travelers as these are the people who will wish to enjoy the destination and experience the local culture.
A year of multiple short trips: With 2017 offering lots of long weekends, Indians are in the mood to plan multiple short trips to places around their cities, mostly booked through their mobile apps. Short haul international sectors of Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand will remain a favorite for travel and shopping.
As the stars offer insights into the future of different sectors of Tourism, TravelScapes offers its Top five.