HOLIDAY LIKE IT’S 2019
Gaze into the future of travel
There’s a certain disappointment in learning there are no crystal balls or jewel-encrusted wizard sleeves when it comes to making predictions about the way we’ll travel in 2019, but Virtuoso Asia Pacific managing director Michael Londregan swears he has something much more powerful at his fingertips: databases.
“Not as exciting (as crystal balls) I’m sure, but a far more effective tool in letting industry insiders know what’s booming on the horizon,” he laughs. “Our systems tell us well in advance what’s being searched for, what’s being booked, and our suppliers and advisers give us regular feedback so we know exactly what to expect moving forward.”
So, what’s on the horizon for 2019?
Pesky walls obscuring your view? The global saturation of bubble tents will take care of that, popping up around the world in the way of Bubble Hotel Bali in Uluwatu and Bubbletent Australia.
On the wish list? The Beach Bubble tent in luxurious Maldivian resort Finolhu – a custom-designed masterpiece fitted with woodenfloors, bespoke furnishings and every creature comfort you could ever need.
WE’RE SEEING SIGNIFICANT INTEREST IN COUNTRIES WHICH OFFER UNIQUE LOCAL DINING AND COOKING OPPORTUNITIES
Whether you’re dreaming of a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer train or a dog sled across the Yukon, you’re in good company: according to TripAdvisor, the destination with the largest year-on-year increase in unique searches by Aussie travellers falls north of the US. The data makes sense, says Brendan Sawyers, general manager of Webjet Exclusives.
“The contrast of mountains, lakes and glaciers is so unique when compared to anything we find at home, and combined rail and cruise tours are the perfect way to make the most of it.”
Fancy yourself to be a bit of a Gordon Ramsay? Rather than a swag of cookbooks at Christmas to improve your effin’ skills, you’ll be far more likely to travel overseas to delve deep into local cuisines, cooking schools, food tours and produce trails.
“There’s no better way to get to know a country and its culture than through its food,” explains James Thornton, Intrepid Group CEO. “And as we increasingly travel in line with our personal interests, we’re seeing significant interest in countries which offer a plethora of unique local dining and cooking opportunities.” INTREPIDTRAVEL.COM.AU
Gone are the days of buying the whole album to get those two songs you like; moving forward we’ll see the slow fade of “nine cities in nine days” touring, and instead turn our focus on exploring one particular town or region for a lengthy period of time, Virtuoso’s Michael Londregan says. “In other words, you might pay a little more to download those two songs, but you’ll listen to them over and over again with passion.”
Take a couple of polar caps, add a growing number of smaller, ultraluxurious ships and itineraries and you have the teeth-chattering adventure of a lifetime – one more people will be lining up to experience, says Cassie Lee, product manager Cruise for Helloworld Travel. “As travel has become more affordable and accessible, many travellers feel they’ve ‘been there, done that’ and they’re looking for something untouched and foreign. Australians are adventurous by nature, and expedition cruising caters to those desires,” she says.
For a side of Alaskan brrr, check out UnCruise Adventures through Helloworld – small ships which
AUSTRALIANS ARE ADVENTUROUS BY NATURE, AND EXPEDITION CRUISING CATERS TO THOSE DESIRES
specialise in the Alaskan coastline, or Holland America Line’s Alaskan Inside Passage cruise – a seven-day sail perfect for first-timers.
Fancy a bit of sisterly solidarity? The year 2019 will be your year. Not only is the world’s first females-only (and super-controversial) SuperShe Island now open for business, but womenonly tours and expeditions are surging in popularity. Check out Intrepid’s Women-Only Expeditions – tours designed to help female travellers enjoy developing countries and support local women along the way.
GREEN URBAN SPACES
What could stop an ageing ’80s rocker from hurling a television from his hotel room? Try a plant-rich space featuring a tropical roof garden and ivy-strewn dining room walls.
Yes, paying close attention to countless studies which show green spaces significantly decrease stress, improve air quality and – according to one study – influence hotel guests to leave more positive reviews, hotels around the world are unveiling such spaces and keeping their TVs intact.
Check out The Shanghai Edition in Shanghai and Hudson Hotel in New York City for inspiration. EDITIONHOTELS.COM, MORGANSHOTELGROUP.COM
GETTING OFF THE TOURIST PATH
As tourism caps continue to be rolled out in high-traffic destinations, travellers will keep looking (and booking) outside the box, bypassing the likes of Paris for Antwerp and Bali for Ethiopia.
The desire for authenticity is a trend also showing domestic promise, says Hans Belle, Inspiring Journeys managing director . “Whether it’s having lunch with a family of dairy farmers out in the country, or staying in the middle of a pristine national park, we’re after journeys to inspire a lifetime of storytelling.”
Get your duck face on and #blessed hashtag at the ready; we’ll all be relying on our feeds to help guide future travels, according to Expedia’s recent #liketotravel report which found that one in four travellers already picks holiday spots based on social media posts, and 67 per cent go by “Instagrammability” when choosing holidays.
Anthony Goldman, Goldman Group joint managing director, says the trend is on an upward trajectory – and cyclic. “Not only is it about the ability to document travel experiences on social media, but hotels are creating more and more Instagrammable experiences as well.”
Blame it on the Rugby World Cup next year, interest surrounding the 2020 Olympics or the country’s epic snow season, but Japan is hotter than hell and only going to get more … hellish.
“Obviously Japan is considered a safe destination and it’s got a culture and cuisine that Australians really respond to,” says Chris Malina, head of air trading, Helloworld Travel. “But we also have four direct airlines now servicing the Australia to Japan route, which means fares have never been so competitive.” According to Japan National Tourism Organisation, 440,000 Australians visited in 2017 – almost double the figures from 2012.
Call a meeting with HR pronto: rather than plan an annual pilgrimage as in days of old, we’ll all be locking in not one, but TWO solid holidays a year, reveals Webjet Exclusives’ Brendan Sawyers. “Essentially, our customers can now afford to have a two-holiday year and they’re at times happy to forgo the expensive Lake View room knowing they’re spending their day out enjoying the destination, not sitting in a hotel room.”
Whether it’s the Qantas Perth to London Heathrow flight, or Qatar’s Auckland to Doha (both of them more than 17 hours’ flight duration); airlines will continue to roll out nonstop, long-haul flights, cutting out stopover stress and crazed departure lounge Olympic antics. Our advice? Opt for business class or premium.
One-size-fits-all tours have their place, but a growing number of us are willing to pay a little more for a premium product tailored exclusively to our likes, dislikes and personal interests.
A solid example of what to expect can be found with APT’s Tailor Made Journeys – available across its Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia and South America programs.
“You can design each element of your itinerary including departure dates, locations, duration, modes of travel, sightseeing options and hotels,” says APT CEO Steve Reynolds of the fully escorted tours.
Disregard notions of the Danube or Rhine being for the more senior traveller; according to Cruise Lines International Association, interest in river cruising is through the roof – particularly with Millennials. “For Scenic, I wouldn’t go as far as saying Millennials, but we’re certainly seeing an increase in younger guests,” says Mandy Dwyer, from Scenic Tours.
INCREASINGLY, COUPLES PREFER TO ENJOY SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT HOLIDAYS SEPARATELY
“Food and wine is a common interest across all ages,” she says.
“Scenic also offers activities to suit all abilities so you can either go hiking through the Black Forest or take a baking class in Nuremberg – there’s something for everyone.”
SMALL GROUP TOURING
Calling time on the joy that is waiting for 50-odd people on your tour to take the “right” Instagram shot, is the rise (and rise) of intimate group touring.
For the first time, Busabout has launched all-new Small Group Adventures (seven guided trips of no more than 20 people), as has Collette whose new small group Explorations tours allow travellers to stay in boutique – and unique – places such as igloos and lodges.
“Small is an innovation,” says Goldman Group’s Anthony Goldman of the trend. “Not only is it about personalisation – you can get into different galleries and private Vatican openings – it grants flexibility.”
Dreaming of a week off from your partner’s nascent snoring or child’s incessant whining? Although multigenerational and skip-gen holidays are leading 2019 travel trends, you won’t be surprised to learn solo touring is not too far behind, with tour operators such as Wendy Wu and Collette offering a solid range of trips for those who’d prefer to go it alone.
“One part of it is about meeting demand for our changing family demographics but, increasingly, we’re also seeing couples who prefer to enjoy significantly different holidays separately,” Collette head of marketing James Hewlett says.
With its natural beauty (hello endless beaches!), burgeoning dining scene, timeless ruins and super-cheap prices, Aussies by the planeload will be heading to sunny Sri Lanka in 2019.
“Awareness of this beautiful country is growing with reopened train routes making it possible to experience incredibly scenic landscapes that haven’t been available to tourists for over 25 years,” says Sri Lanka fan, Randall Deer, founder and managing director of My Holiday Centre. “Plus, direct flights from Australia have made the country more accessible than ever.”
Catherine Kelly, national marketing manager for Bunnick Tours, agrees the country is hot hot, hot, but adds travellers must act quickly to catch it at its best. “If you want to experience authentic Sri Lanka, this is the year to do it.”
Reducing environmental footprints will be one of the key trends of 2019, with hotel chains and tour operators working hand-in-hand with guests to minimise the impact of global travel.
Club Med, for example, has successfully removed straws across all of its Asian resorts with a view to removing them from all 68 resorts worldwide by 2019, while Trafalgar has removed all singleuse plastics from tours and introduced a system where a tree is planted every time a guest opts for electronic documentation.
“We also provide metal water bottles for guests and only choose partners whose (environmental) practices are in line with our own,” says Matthew Cameron-Smith, Trafalgar Australia managing director.
After a rough few years, countries such as Turkey, Iran and Egypt are once again feeling the love as Australians turn the other cheek on fearmongering news reports and head back to these exotic nations in droves.
According to Intrepid, in September 2018, Turkey enjoyed a 132 per cent increase in visitors to its minaret-tipped cities compared with September 2017, and with tours such as Insight Vacations and cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean heading back in 2019, numbers will continue to rise.
Feel a little claustrophobic in hotel rooms which follow the standard business traveller model? Breathe easy; we’re about to see an increase in villa-style accommodation, Virtuoso’s Michael Londregan says.
“We’re travelling in larger groups and often with our families, so properties are investing heavily in offering options which suit these groups, from townhouses with kitchenettes to multi-room villas.”
If your idea of wellness is to drop and do 20 … doughnuts, you could be in for a shock. A report from Booking.com reveals nearly one in five travellers in 2018 sought holiday destinations based around hiking, walking, spa and relaxation and it’s a trend showing an upward trajectory.
On the ground, new hotel The Westin Brisbane is on-trend, serving up a two-floor wellness centre and “run concierge” (a resident running buddy), while on a Scenic vessel, guests can make the most of their ebikes on shore excursions.
“It’s not like the gym,” says Scenic Tours’ Mandy Dwyer. “You’re riding around castles and orchards, so it’s lots of fun.”
There’s still no word on when “eating buddies” and “drinking buddies” will start trending, but we’re putting our money on 2020.
Unique lodgings such as Bubble Tents at Finolhu, Maldives, and destinations such as Sri Lanka and South Africa are creating a buzz for those wanting to get off the beaten track in 2019.
Mountains, lakes and glaciers have Aussies flocking to Canada; Japan is hotter than ever, and Turkey is back in the spotlight.