World Travel Market
The leading global event for the travel industry, the World Travel Market in London, this year registered a high level of industry optimism. LORRAINE THOMSON reports from the British capital.
Travel business conducted at the World Travel Market ( WTM) this year reached $ 5 billion, which is up on last year’s $ 4.5 billion. This year is the 35th year of the four- day business- to- business exhibition and of the 5,000 exhibitors there were 215 new exhibitors and a quarter of these were representing travel technology. The Asia- Pacific region saw 19 new exhibitors, including six from India. Tourism New Zealand shared a section at WTM with Tourism Australia and 16 operators from the joint region. Australian and New Zealand tour operator Australia One was at WTM for the third time with its booking engine facilitating 5,000 travel products to world buyers.
Travellers in 2049 will all have identification on their passports, according to two WTM polls of 2,200 consumer and travel industry executives. Fingerprint passports and visa control came top in the list of developments expected in the next 35 years. Fingerprint identification was substantially ahead of other predicted developments – space tourism, tours in driverless vehicles and hypersonic flights.
Resort robot s replace human s
Androids or holograms could replace holiday reps by the middle of the century, according to research by WTM. Of the travel industry executives surveyed, 59 per cent expect robots or holographic images to take over from human reps in the resort of the future. In the UK, Thomson travellers can already use a texting service called Thomson Travel Bud to book excursions or find out about their resort.
UK traveller s eye lon g- haul
Holidaymakers in the UK are looking to go further afield in 2015. Long- haul countries cited include the US, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Mexico, Canada and Thailand. This is likely to be linked to next year’s scrapping of the top two bands of Air Passenger Duty, which will save $ 90 per person.
Peer- to - peer travel increases
Peer- to- peer travel – holidaymakers staying in people’s homes booked through sites such as Airbnb, Housetrip and HomeAway – has increased significantly over the past five years. HomeAway, which has more than one million listings in 190 countries, saw revenues increase by 24 per cent last year to $ 447 million. This growth is posing a threat to the traditional travel industry, with companies losing bookings to these sites.
Cyclin g po ses threat to golf
Cycling has become a strong contender for the leisure time of middle- aged men, replacing the traditional golfing holidays. The popularity of golf in the US hit its peak in the early 2000s, thanks to the popularity of Tiger Woods, with around 25 million players, but has declined to 19 million in 2013. The number of cycling enthusiasts, however, has gown from 3.5 million in 2012 to 3.8 million
in 2013, according to research company Gluskin Townley Group. In particular, cycling has become a competitive sport for affluent, middle- aged men – traditionally the core market for golf.
Poshtel s take increa sin g stake
Lifestyle hostels, known as poshtels, have been springing up in the UK following a shift in consumption patterns after the economic crisis. The demand for low- cost, high- value travel and non- conventional lodging establishments is meeting the needs of the cost- conscious, seeking stylized communal living and atmosphere. Poshtels emphasize modern and luxurious design with high- tech facilities, offering restaurants twin ensuite rooms, free wifi and breakfast.
Wearable electronics will become an important tool for travellers, who will be increasingly connected to the internet through different types of mobile devices, according to Euromonitor International. Products currently on sale include Sony SmartWatch, Samsung Galaxy Gear and Google Glass. Google also developed Android Wear software for wearable electronics. Apple Watch will go on sale from early 2015 and is expected to take this sector by storm. Hotels in the US will be one hotel where you can check in with your wearable iWatch. Expedia released an app for the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch in August 2014 and is working on one for Google Glass, focusing on notifications for travellers.
Design hotel s lift the lid
Design hotels are benefiting from a new trend associating themselves with design events in the Middle East, like Saudi Design Week. The trend has been of benefit to Beirut’s new design hotel, the Smallville. The hotel, which opened in 2014, has hosted guests coming to Beirut Design Week, showcasing the works of local designers.
Surfin g the African wave
It is estimated there will be 50 million people surfing worldwide by 2020 and the African continent with 26,000km of coastline, is now promoting its uncrowded waves. Sierra Leone will host its first grassroots surf invitational event in 2014, featuring a week- long competition, surf development clinics, film screenings and a musical festival.
Bra ggie s – the new selfie s
The number of social media users across the globe, according to a survey by eMarketer, increased 18 per cent in 2013, to exceed 1.7 billion users. Facebook last year had an average of 350 million photos uploaded daily, while Instagram had 58 million daily uploads. Making use of this, hotel social media strategies have latched on to “braggie” photos – where guests upload photos of themselves on holiday within ten minutes of arriving at their hotel. Kimpton Hotels has already introduced a rewards programme offering perks such as free wifi and spa vouchers for guests posting on social media.
Rail bookin gs boom
With an increase of 300 per cent in online bookings between March 2013 and March 2014, rail is the fastest growing sector in online travel in India. Travel agents are latching on to this trend by booking train tickets online for travellers who do not have internet access.
Ama zon Local add s customer reac h
This is a daily deal site, which has been in the UK for two years and has a customer base “in the millions”. Amazon Local general manager Geraldine Wilson said the site partners with boutique hotels, through to premium and national hotel chains, as well as entertainment, restaurants, health and beauty facilities. Some properties have “offers” while others may not.
Ultra low cost airline
Low cost carriers have been around for some time, but now you can fly on an ultra low cost airline. Not so well known Eastern European airline Wizzair is ten years old and brands itself as ultra low cost. Chief executive Jozsef Varadi, at WTM for the first time, said his airline has 54 aircraft with flights to 35 countries, flying 16 million passengers a year. In five years, he expects to have 100 aircraft carrying 30 million passengers. “We are focused on stimulating new markets. This business is going from strength to strength,” he said. “Why do you want to pay more for a ticket when you don’t have to?”
Welne ss to uri sm on the ri se
The $ 650 billion wellness tourism business is growing twice as fast as tourism in general, according to Linser Hospitality chief executive Dr Franz Linser. Spafinder Wellness UK managing director John Bevan said there was a huge demand. “People are now starting to realize you can have a great holiday and engage in fitness and healthy eating. A massive opportunity – and it will accelerate more if the travel industry gets behind it.”
Rugby World Cup 2015
Sport can put a destination on the world map, as New Zealand knows only too well. One European out of four has travelled overseas to attend a sporting event and they spend more than the average tourist. Rugby supports tend to be travellers and high spenders and so the Rugby World Cup next year in England is bringing with it tourism opportunities. England Rugby 2015 head of city delivery Paul Smith said the 15 host cities and boroughs will be putting on their best showcase across the six weeks of the tournament ( September / October). New Zealand received 133,000 overseas visitors for the Rugby World Cup, but England is expecting 460,000 overseas visitors.
World Travel Market 2014, ExCeL entrance, London
Ribbon cutting: World Travel Market senior exhibition director Simon Press and Flemish minister for tourism Ben Weyts [ Visit Flanders was WTM’s premier partner).
Far left: Eurosport marketing deputy director Vincent David. Left: Google Travel industry head Anna Chomse.