Clients of Audley Travel still see a key role for the holiday brochure despite some travel companies planning to cut paper-based products.
Almost half of the specialist operator’s customers who either booked or enquired about trips say the brochure is essential or important to their trip research. An additional 35% said it was useful to have.
The findings comes from research carried out among more than 3,000 customers booking or enquiring about trips through to 2019.
A majority (81%) felt a website was essential or important, with an additional 13 per cent felt it is useful to have.
Almost three quarters (74%) stated that speaking to an expert was essential or important – showing the key role that specialist travel advisors play in helping clients book their trip, according to Audley Travel.
Audley said its customers are increasingly looking for experiential moments that will give them a great story to tell on their return.
These are experiences that can’t simply be secured by entering credit card details online, according to the company.
Clients need the expertise of a destination specialist who can design an itinerary to include wildlife spotting at the place and time most likely to deliver the coveted sighting or include the most authentic homestay or cultural experience, rather than those simply staged for tourists.
The sight of an elusive animal on a wildlife tour was found to be important to 64% of clients, a four per cent increase in three years.
The chance to have a unique insight into a local culture through a homestay experience was cited by 56% of people, while taking part in a walk or trek that provides views that take their breath away was highlighted by 54%, an eight per cent increase in three years.
The findings emerged as the operator tipped Northern Peru and wild elephant viewing in Thailand as top travel experiences for 2018.
Audley’s specialists’ top tips of places to visit next year include Russia where a new high-speed train will cut the journey from Moscow to Kazan to three hours. With hotels already booked up for the World Cup due to be hosted in Russia in June and July, Audley expects an increase in visitors in the following months.
The Friendship Highway from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal is now open and 2018 will be the first full season that it will have been operational in three years. Audley believes this will drive visitors to the region keen to explore both Tibet and Kathmandu in a single trip.
Rwanda will challenge Botswana as the luxury destination in Africa in 2018 with new luxury safari accommodation includes two One&Only properties as well as a Wilderness Safari lodge.
New Orleans is top of Audley’s list of US cities to visit in 2018 as the city celebrates its tercentenary and the introduction of a direct British Airways flight from London this year has helped boost bookings.
High demand is predicted for bear watching experiences of British Columbia as well as trips to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada are also becoming increasingly popular.
Great interest is reported from clients in hotels that really tell the story of the destination in Australia. MACq 01 in Hobart, Tasmania opened this July and each of the 114 rooms showcases one of five distinct Tasmanian character traits.
Head of product Alex Bentley said: “We are continually reviewing our programme and looking for more gems for our clients to enjoy – the new trip to Kui Buri National Park in Thailand to see wild elephants is a great example of this – and we plan to continue to offer more fantastic new experiences to our clients throughout 2018.”
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