Catering for single-parent families and people in search of a ‘digital detox’ are among the new opportunities for the travel industry in today’s changing market place, a leading trend expert told the Abta convention.
Kicking off this year’s guest presentations, the first session focussed on the customer of tomorrow, and how travel companies can make the most of consumers’ changing demands and find new ways to cater for them.
Speaker William Higham, managing director and founder of Next Big Thing, outlined some of the consumer trends that could change the face of the travel industry, including harnessing the power of smart phones and tablet devices by creating electronic guidebooks for destinations.
The appeal of telling people about your holiday through social media was another growing opportunity, with Higham saying: “We can pick up on this, and give them opportunities to upload their photos, to take that information and put it on Facebook.”
Higham also said that travel agents should show the public how much they can help out the consumer.
“It’s something that travel agents can really make their mark on and show the public how useful they are,” said HIgham, adding that while Google was great, it offered a huge amount of data which can be overwhelming.
“I believe that in the future, you are going to get people coming back to travel agents for help and advice,” he said.
Offering vouchers and discounting, such as booking two holidays with a company and then getting the third half-price, was a way of tapping into the current economic climate, and people trying to make the pennies go further.
“But it’s not just about cheapness, it’s about value,” stressed Higham. “They are very savvy. Think about ways you can offer value to the public.”
Another growing trend was the consumer trying to get away from it all, whether that meant having a digital detox away from the barrage of social media and emails, or escaping from the realities of life.
“Offer indulgent holidays, offer extreme holidays,” said Higham. “Let’s take them somewhere they can forget everything that’s happened in their real life.”
Having a holiday which also acts as a way of boosting your CV by learning a new skill or gaining experience at the same time was another aspect that consumers were increasingly looking for, said Higham.
He also said that the family structure these days meant there were many single-parent families, or three-generational families with parents, grandparents and children all wanting to holiday together, and that the travel industry should find ways of catering for them.
Holidays that offered well-being breaks are in greater demand, said Higham, as were holidays that offered people a unique, almost spiritual experience.
“There’s great opportunities for you,” concluded Higham. “Change offers opportunities.”
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