2019: A year of anti-so­cial travel

Josh Martin looks at 2019 trends for trav­ellers and dis­cov­ers that so­cial me­dia show-offs and their en­ablers may be out of luck.

The Dominion Post - - News -

In 2018, we wit­nessed kneeach­ingly long flights, ever-larger cruise ves­sels and more peo­ple trav­el­ling glob­ally than ever be­fore.

Thank­fully the num­ber of peo­ple dragged off air­lines did not reach the shame­ful heights of 2017.

Travel and tourism is a mega in­dus­try ob­sessed with trends and the ‘‘Next Big Thing’’ as well as one that of­fers niches, sub-tribes and weird anom­alies.

Here’s what 2019 may have in store for the trav­el­ling Kiwi:

Over-ca­pac­ity (that’s in­dus­try speak for too many seats on of­fer) on leisure routes, higher fuel prices and in­creas­ingly shaky con­sumer con­fi­dence pushed some – mostly Euro­pean – air­lines to the wall in 2018, while many oth­ers came close.

Although the main play­ers fly­ing the New Zealand skies look more than sound, the macroe­co­nomic con­di­tions and of­ten ra­zor-thin mar­gins of global avi­a­tion re­main. All the more rea­son to have com­pre­hen­sive travel cover on your next big Euro­pean trip.

Em­pha­sis on ex­pe­ri­ences

It’s no longer about mil­lion-count Egyp­tian cot­ton sheets on Cal­i­for­nia su­per-king beds for the one-per-cen­ters and the wannabe one-per-cen­ters. We want cus­tomised, per­sonal and (most­likely) ‘‘share­able’’ ex­pe­ri­ences. Think heli-trans­fers, Miche­lin­starred chef cook­ing lessons and F1 racer driv­ing lessons.

Travel is now even more of a sta­tus sym­bol, so the top tier es­pe­cially de­mands ho­tels, cruise com­pa­nies and travel ser­vice firms make their stay more about what they get to do and how they do it, rather than about things (although top-branded toi­letries and top-shelf mini­bars never hurt).

User pays (and pays and pays)

Whether they call the of­fer­ing ‘‘cus­tomis­able on price’’, ‘‘pay for perks’’ or ‘‘seats to suit’’, it means that your ad­ver­tised cost of travel is more a start­ing point than a fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

We see it most promi­nently in air­lines, which this year are set to rake in more than $60 bil­lion in an­cil­lary rev­enues (that’s bag­gage fees, seat se­lec­tion fees, in­sur­ance, credit card fees, board­ing pri­or­ity passes, and the list goes on).

What was sold a decade ago as air­lines of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial-cri­sis­bur­dened cus­tomers a way to fly with no frills, has per­sisted and, in fact, wors­ened as con­sumer spend­ing im­proved.

Low-cost car­ri­ers wrote the book on users pay, and now make on av­er­age 30 per cent of their to­tal rev­enue from an­cil­lary fees.

Now, on some air­lines, you have to pay a penalty for the ‘‘frill’’ of check­ing into your flight at the air­port. Sadly, this trend will be­come even more main­stream in 2019.

Off the grid moves on trend

While some trav­ellers (my­self in­cluded) love to over-share and brag their way through their for­eign

es­capades, 2019 will see a grow­ing num­ber of tourists want­ing to go off the grid. No, re­ally.

Tram­pers and cam­pers will scoff, ‘‘yep, we’ve been do­ing that for years’’, but now the other end of the mar­ket is catch­ing on.

That’s right, pur­pose­fully snub­bing wi-fi, screens and so­cial me­dia is now the pre­serve of posh ho­tels, bou­tique re­treats and sa­fari lodges where it was once held up as an es­sen­tial marker of a good star­rat­ing. Fo­cus on the now, not the next so­cial me­dia post – your fol­low­ers prob­a­bly de­serve the break.

Nip­pon clip-on

Af­ter com­ing off the boil over the past decade, Ja­pan will come back in a big way for New Zealan­ders in 2019.

Af­ter Au­gust your so­cial me­dia feed should see a steady stream of pho­tos (prob­a­bly sta­dium-cen­tric) from the Land of the Rising Sun. Why? The Rugby World Cup. Pre­pare for tens of thou­sands of rugby tourists ex­plor­ing all Ja­pan has to of­fer.

Air New Zealand has ramped up its sched­uled flights from Auck­land to Tokyo (Narita) to co­in­cide with the tour­na­ment’s Septem­ber to Novem­ber fix­tures (although fly­ing with one stop in Southeast Asia can be 50 per cent cheaper).

From snow thrills and onsen spas in the win­ter to the in­fa­mous cherry blos­som spring to big fes­ti­vals and sashimi sam­pling in sum­mer, it’s a year-round des­ti­na­tion sure to please the senses, even if you’re not watch­ing the All Blacks.

Skin in the game

There must be something about cen­turies-old stone carv­ings, an­cient re­li­gions or hik­ing up steps at sun­rise or sun­set, but tak­ing snaps of your bare butt at a cul­tural mon­u­ment and post­ing them on­line is stay­ing.

Yes, the trend no­body asked for. Just this month, two Dan­ish tourists caused out­rage af­ter break­ing the law to scale the Great Pyra­mid in Giza and pose nude (and more) atop it af­ter dark. They al­legedly paid off mem­bers of staff in the park.

It fol­lows sim­i­lar feats by cul­tur­ally tone-deaf tourists in Cam­bo­dia, Malaysia, China, and even in lit­tle ol’ New Zealand.

While some say ‘‘when in Rome, do as the Ro­mans do’’ (ie, cover up), a grow­ing num­ber of tourists re­ply ‘‘free the nip’’ (among other things).

Class warfare

In 2018, many thou­sands of col­umn inches were ded­i­cated to busi­ness-class seats and first-class lounge ex­pe­ri­ences that most of us will never ac­tu­ally get the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence.

Of course, these mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar in­vest­ments re­sult in to­tal lux­ury and make long-haul travel in par­tic­u­lar an ef­fort­less plea­sure.

Door-to-door concierge ser­vices, hide­away suites in the sky and your own per­sonal chef show the lengths air­lines will go to in or­der to fill its seats (and now suites) in the front end. This is where they make their money.

It’s of­ten said the cheap seats, where I’m more likely found, barely cover the fuel when filled.

The re­sult? The trend of strat­i­fi­ca­tion of air travel, based on your his­tory and fu­ture like­li­hood of loyal spend­ing, will con­tinue.

Things will get bet­ter and bet­ter up the front, while air­lines con­tinue to put the squeeze on pas­sen­gers’ wal­lets and knees in econ­omy. Which is an­other rea­son 2019 will see more air­lines try­ing to cram more in to cat­tle class. A 3-3-3 lay­out down the back of a twin-aisle Air­bus or Boe­ing air­craft is be­com­ing a rar­ity.

Safe (if cramped) trav­els.

Tak­ing snaps of your bare butt at a cul­tural mon­u­ment and post­ing them on­line is stay­ing. Yes, the trend no­body asked for.

123RF

Fo­cus on the now, not the next so­cial me­dia post – your fol­low­ers prob­a­bly de­serve the break.

Low cost car­ri­ers wrote the book on user pays, and now make on av­er­age 30 per cent of their to­tal rev­enue from an­cil­lary fees.

123RF

2019 will see a grow­ing num­ber of tourists want­ing to go off the grid.

123RF

All eyes are on Ja­pan this year.

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