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 Digest - - EDITORIAL - Lor­raine Thom­son trav­elled to WTM in London cour­tesy of Sin­ga­pore Air­lines on the new A380 ser­vice.

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.

Finger­print Pass­ports

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

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

in In­dia

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.

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