With 1.3 billion humans travelling for the purposes of tourism in 2017 according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, someone was bound to be going pretty much everywhere for pretty much every reason you might imagine. Nevertheless, each year some destinations and themes rise above the others, prompting travel industry prognosticators to weigh in with forecasts designed to suggest a playlist of what’s to come, at least until the following year.
Beyond interesting reading, these exercises may even prove helpful for retailers by suggesting somewhere new to consider sending clients that may not have been top of mind before; somewhere to book early (or not at all!) because it’s going to be crowded and probably expensive; or a hot or growing trend/niche that may inspire a successful group departure. Similarly, new trends in tech or business practices might help companies or individuals keep ahead of the curve, or the competition.
What fuels what’s “hot” varies, of course: technological innovation; events; film/TV exposure; celebrity endorsements or affiliations; rebound from natural disasters, war or terrorism; improved accessibility, infrastructure or new attractions; forward bookings or client intention surveys; or perhaps, cynically, somewhere a company simply wishes people would go to support its program there (it’s still hot for them!).
G Adventures Canadian Marketing Director Aizaz Sheikh explains his company’s hot list process: “We looked at factors such as trending sales data, operational improvements, new flight routes, social buzz and upcoming events around the globe,” he says, admitting, “Some of it is gut instinct.”
Typically, such hot/trend lists begin to appear in late fall and continue into the New Year. Indeed, it’s hard to keep up with them. With this in mind, I’ve done some of the heavy listing to aggregate a one-stop shop of 2018 hot lists. I hope it helps.
G Adventures – Number one is Egypt, in part due to the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the world’s largest archaeological museum, later in the year. More hot stuff: Portugal, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Hawaii, South Africa, Bolivia and Oman.
Booking.com – Sapporo, Japan – “a great base for exploring the mountains and hot springs of Hokkaido (with a) thriving food scene.” Others: Nashville, Tenn.; Bucharest, Romania; Zakopane, Poland; Taitung City, Taiwan; Brisbane, Australia; Bogotá, Colombia; Portland, Or.; Lima, Peru; and Hannover, Germany.
Club Med – Italy was tops in 2017 and will be the hottest summer destination again in 2018 forecasts Club Med. Like Booking.com, Club Med also names Hokkaido, Japan.
Sunwing – Top 10 Caribbean resorts for 2018: Riu Dunamar, Playa Mujeres, Mexico; Royalton Bavaro, Punta Cana; Plaza Beach, Bonaire; Hotel Xcaret, Riviera Maya; Krystal Grand Los Cabos; Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana; Resort Mundo Imperial, Acapulco; Royalton Negril; Iberostar Bella Vista, Varadero; Royalton Saint Lucia.
Booking.com – Bucket list travel will be big in 2018 with 45 per cent of travellers surveyed by Booking.com stating that they are aiming to tick one or more destinations off their list this year. Those dreams include seeing a wonder of the world and visiting a theme park. Also: vintage vacations – visiting childhood favourites; pop culture pilgrimage – based on films, TV, books and music; wellness, especially walking and hiking; mate escapes – travelling with friends; and living like a local by renting a home.
Virtuoso – When it comes to luxury, the Virtuoso cooked up the following hot list for 2018 – lifestyle hotels with character, a cool vibe and great amenities; adventure travel, from soft to extreme; city stays for shopping, spas, art and architecture and food; exotic glamping in Africa; and family travel.
CruiseCompete – In it’s cruise crystal ball for 2018, the online marketplace expects the following trends to heat up: yacht experiences by ultra-luxury hoteliers like Ritz Carlton; expanded culinary choices and enhanced gastronomic experiences at sea; personal wellness experiences; millennials discovering river and small ship cruising; more sophisticated kids and family camps; increased popularity of multi-gen, boomerang (open jaw) and back-to-back cruising.
Insight Vacations – According to Insight, the “idea of communal dining [is] something that has fallen by the wayside over the years, but has been brought back to the forefront as a quintessential human experience.” To that end, the tour operator has partnered with VizEat to connect clients to local hosts to experience authentic meals and “memorable dining experiences.”
Artificial Intelligence – Amazon's voice service Alexa can now help Air Canada customers get fare quotes, check flight status, find out what carousel their baggage will be on, and other travel information. AC is the first Canadian airline to connect to AI.
Virtual reality – According to Booking.com 64 per cent of travellers surveyed said they would like to ‘try before they buy’ with a virtual reality preview. Air Canada, G Adventures and St. Petersburg, Fla., are among the suppliers already using the technology.
Vision Travel – “One of the things we’ve evolved to this year is the understanding that there are super sellers and that they deserve support,” says Lynda Sinclair, VP Leisure Travel. “One of the advisors said to me, ‘I’m so busy that I just need time to think.’ It’s taking away the invoicing, point-to-point airline tickets, some of the ‘drudgery’ of some of these top sellers… They’re going to make way more selling a Silverseas cruise… Giving them support people is a real evolution we’ve focussed on this year, and it has paid off.”
Credit: photo courtesy/ G Adventures
Egypt will be back on track in 2018, predicts G Adventures.