Mintel analyst Marloes De Vries reveals the market research firm’s latest consumer insights

Escape the crowds

Demand for unique and exclusive experiences is on the rise, fuelled by travellers’ need to share eye-catching stories via social media as well as a desire to avoid visitor congestion in popular holiday destinations.

Mintel research suggests 61% of UK holidaymakers aged 16-34 like to be first among their friends and family to ‘discover’ new city-break destinations, while 57% of those who take short breaks agree that overcrowding puts them off taking breaks in cities such as Venice or Barcelona.

It is crucial that brand websites incorporate flexible search technology in order to find out what travellers are looking to experience and to get out of a holiday before suggesting destinations.

The younger generation are less likely to be led by the destination when searching for a holiday on a travel website. For them, motivation and experiences play a more important role in the search process.

The need to stand out from the crowd is paving the way for the growth of lesser-known destinations and attractions.

Mintel expects destinations with low living costs and more-positive exchange rates to benefit in 2020 amid the fluctuating value of the pound.

Going green

Media attention is driving consumer awareness of the impact travel has on the environment.

Consumers expect travel companies to take action to protect the environment, with reduction of carbon emissions and recycling waste seen as top priorities.

However, the vast majority would also like to do more themselves to minimise their impact on the environment while travelling.

Many are keen on supporting the local economy. Mintel research found 52% of UK travellers would most likely eat in a locally-run restaurant on holiday and 37% would choose to stay in a locally-run hotel.

More than one third (35%) of travellers said they would be most likely to stay in eco-friendly accommodation.

The research found younger people more inclined than older to take part in initiatives such as volunteering.

Mintel expects travel brands to develop more partnerships with local suppliers and to offer more activities involving locals.

Trust

Trust will remain a key theme in 2020, as uncertainties around Brexit and the Thomas Cook collapse have instilled cautious booking behaviour.

In November 2019, 39% of UK adults said Brexit had made them more cautious about booking holidays. Another 44% said the collapse of travel companies (for example, Thomas Cook and Super Break) had made them more cautious about booking.

Those who plan to book their main holiday as a package in 2020 appear likely to let their travel company choice be influenced by their previous experience of a brand, while many will take brand reputation and customer reviews into account.

Mintel predicts use of well-known brands with high-customer satisfaction ratings will surge in the package holiday market in 2020.

TUI and Jet2 are likely to be among the brands to increase their share of the package market, while easyJet is one to watch after its revamped holiday business was launched in November 2019.

Food tourism

Travellers are getting more adventurous when it comes to exploring local food and drink in their holiday destination.

This is driven by high interest in trying new cuisine and unusual flavours, particularly among younger travellers.

Food and drink is a great way for travellers to connect and learn more about a destination – and 44% of Brits who holiday overseas say local food and drink often affects their destination choice, compared with 37% of domestic holidaymakers.

Travellers show high interest in visiting food markets, food festivals and culinary tours while on holiday.

Mintel research found 82% of those interested in going on a cruise would like the ship to offer local food and drink based on where it is sailing.

Culinary holidays are among the types of trips likely to be taken throughout all seasons. Local food can also encourage holidaymakers to travel to lesser-known regions.

Mintel predicts more tourist boards will focus on raising their culinary image as part of efforts to boost visitation across regions and seasons.

Wellness tourism

Consumers are increasingly health conscious, with many taking a more holistic approach to wellbeing encouraged by emerging scientific research and improved health-tracking tools.

Stress is also becoming a more recognised health concern. The younger generation, in particular, is looking to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Our research suggests 55% of UK adults are actively seeking ways to reduce stress, rising to 68% among those aged 16-34.

At the same time, 37% of UK adults say they are actively seeking ways to disconnect from their smartphone, peaking at 53% among 16-34 year olds.

Mintel forecasts more travel brands will tap into consumers’ senses to create a stress-free environment or boost their mood, with the use of music/sounds, colours/lighting and scents, as well offering food with health benefits.