2017 Travel Trends Gaining Momentum

If you want to stay on top, pay attention to trends in tourism. Luckily, there is a lot of research on tourism around the world published every day. Tourism has grown from 50 million international travelers in 1950 to well over 1 billion travelers in 2013. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 1.8 billion.

Growth graph of international travellers from 1940 to 2030 reaching up to 2 billion

Factors like a large growing middle class, a decrease in travel barriers (such as flights costs), and our constant connection to the web, are attributing to this growth. There is also a lot of research into the value people place on paying for experiences. People are spending more on holidays and entertainment, and less on clothes and food – a good thing for a tour operator!


Staycations are not a fad but an increasing long-term trend. People are drawn to the idea of less planning, less distance, less stress. Google Trends shows that searches for “staycation” were up 10% year over year from 2011-2014. With the rise of travelers staying close to home, there’s a big opportunity to market your tourism business locally.

Several key ways to market nearby are to claim and optimize your TripAdvisor page, offer a “locals discount” (could even be during the off-season), invite and write to your local press, network at business and tourism industry events (by word-of-mouth), and optimize your website for local searches on search engines.

Solo travelers

37% of millennials traveled solo in 2015, and this generation is expected to make up 50% of all global travelers by 2025 (Horwath HTL). They report that traveling alone is easier and cheaper to plan. Despite heading out on their own, these solo travelers are still looking for opportunities to be social and meet new people. Hotels and niche tour companies have started to notice this trend and are finding ways to facilitate more opportunities for their guests to mix and mingle.

Some hotels are redesigning their lobbies to create more common spaces for guests to hang out in and meet others. Also, some tour companies have focused their efforts on increasing the socializing aspect of their tours, such as starting and ending with an opportunity to mingle.

Traveling off the beaten path

A similar emerging trend is the desire to visit “untouched” places. With so many self-proclaimed globetrotters, travelers are seeking unique experiences. Tour operators have the opportunity to share once in a lifetime experience with travelers, providing memories that far outlive their trip. If your tours are not already unique, look for ways to add some personal touches. Look for a unique story or aspect about your tour companies city or activity.I once traveled to visit a friend who took me on a tour of the underground parking lots in their city. The parking lots all connected so we traveled underground from one side of town to the other. As absurd as it sounds, it was one of the most entertaining and memorable city tours I’ve ever had!

Girl using a map while hiking

Mobile bookings

Having an online presence is crucial. 65% of searches are done on mobile devices now, and there has been a huge growth in online voice searches. Not only are consumers demanding real-time information, but search engines penalize websites for not being mobile friendly. 27% of travel transactions were done via a smartphone in 2015. 48% of business travelers and 40% of leisure travelers report sharing their experiences online. If these aren’t enough reasons to make your business mobile friendly, what is?

Travel trends and online trends: 65% searches done on mobile, 27% travel transactions on mobile, 40% leisure travelers share experiences online, 48% business travelers share experiences online

Chinese travelers

In 2014, Chinese travelers spent nearly half a trillion on travel – 500 billion! This makes them the fastest growing market in outbound travel. You don’t need to start translating your website and advertising in Chinese, but due to culture and language barriers, Chinese travelers prefer travel companies with a strong online presence. Being able to find and book information online is essential for capturing the Chinese traveler.

It is worth noting that the world’s middle class is expected to be 4.9 billion of the world’s population by 2030, which means a huge growth in disposable income. The majority of this middle class will come from Asia-Pacific where e-commerce growth and mobile device use has far surpassed North America’s. This will greatly alter travel trends in the future.

2014 Chinese traveler spending, $500 billion

Final thoughts

Stay in the game by catering to the staycationer, providing social activities, accommodating international travelers, and being mobile friendly.  One of the biggest takeaways from these current tourism trends is the importance of being mobile. Everyone from staycationers to international travelers with language barriers are searching for you on their phones.  Keeping up to date with the latest trends in worldwide tourism will allow you to shift and adapt to this rapidly expanding market.

The State of Mobile Bookings for Tours & Activities

Download this report to learn how mobile usage impacts in-destination bookings.

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