Travel industry research company Skift brought its Megatrends 2019 event to Dublin on Tuesday 29th January with a full-house event sponsored by Tourism Ireland at EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum.
Skift, which publishes a daily newsletter on travel and which has recently added Skift Table (for restaurants) and Skift Wellness and bought Airline Weekly four weeks ago, has been publishing its annual Megatrends report for the past seven years.
Presentations on six of the 12 Megatrends, were given by Rafat Ali, Founder and Chief Executive, and Patrick Whyte, Europe Editor, Skift, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session with Enda Corneille, Country Manager Ireland, Emirates; Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive, Irish Tourist Industry Confederation; and Mark Henry, Central Marketing Director Tourism Ireland.
The 72-page report can be downloaded HERE! – but these are the 12 Megatrends, together with Skift’s summary, and a paragraph from each that caught ITTN’s attention:
- BRANDS GIVE TRAVELLERS MORE CONTROL OVER THEIR EXPERIENCE
Skift Take: Creation is the new consumption, as travellers weary of commodity travel seek to have a more active role in curating their experiences, and digital platforms more seamlessly mediate in-trip discovery increasing the opportunity for serendipity.
ITTN Snippet: “The emergence of co-creation and collaboration between travel company and traveller has become perhaps the most impactful change the industry has seen, the end result of a long period of digital development by the global travel sector. The control that travellers now have during every phase of their trip will begin to revolutionise the sector starting in 2019, and smart travel companies are paying attention to ways they can empower their customers without eroding the value of their brand.”
- PREMIUM MEDIOCRE GOES MAINSTREAM
Skift Take: Despite what the name might suggest, premium mediocre isn’t necessarily something bad. It’s just that after a while consumers are going to cotton on to the fact that simply adding avocado to every meal doesn’t always make it more luxurious.
ITTN Snippet: “Premium Mediocre is a phrase fit for our sliced-and-diced times where companies are increasingly looking for new ways to sell us average products at luxury prices.”
- TRAVEL UPSELLING GETS SMARTER THAN EVER
Skift Take: Travel companies have long tried to woo their current customers into buying more, but their promotional tactics have tended to be generic and blunt. Not anymore. Brands are now adopting sophisticated technology to make their sales pitches relevant and effective.
ITTN Snippet: “Carriers famously sell more than tickets to fly. They long ago pioneered charging for nearly everything. Now, like other travel suppliers, they are moving away from one-size-fits-all, open-to-everyone promotions. Airlines have long known they could boost their sales of high-margin products and services if they better understood how to target relevant offers to different customer segments at ideal times. However, they struggled to do that because they had divided their customer information among a jumble of separate databases, such as reservation systems and customer relationship management software. Today, airlines and other travel companies are solving that problem by merging the data in various ways.”
- EVERYTHING IS CONVERGING IN HOSPITALITY
Skift Take: This is the year the hospitality industry starts seeing itself the same way its guests do.
ITTN Snippet: “If every individual traveller comprises his or her own demand segment, the implications for the industry go far beyond blurring categories, or borrowing ideas from different verticals. It means that the entire hospitality industry needs to rethink how it organises itself, how it markets itself, how it develops product, and also how it sells it.”
- UNDER-TOURISM IS THE NEW OVER-TOURISM
Skift Take: Skift has covered every angle of the overtourism debate for the past three years and the more we’ve reported on destinations at capacity, the more we’ve realised those places are outnumbered by many others that understand tourism is about quality rather than quantity.
ITTN Snippet: “Destinations increasingly say that they are committed to spreading tourism beyond congested areas to neighbourhoods in need of tourism spending, or grow tourism during less popular seasons. But the dispersal approach, if successful, only marginally shifts the problem elsewhere rather than solving it. This approach is often taken before businesses in these neighbourhoods are fully tourism-ready or willing to accommodate visitors, or before the off-season actually has compelling offerings that could rival the high season.”
- ONLINE TRAVEL AGENCIES SCURRY FOR SALVATION BEYOND HOTELS
Skift Take: Online travel agencies will be around a decade from now, but food, activities, and rides will be a lot more important to them and their customers. The saplings of this future growth are already visible in 2019.
ITTN Snippet: “As the online hotel booking business gets more competitive, with big chains pushing direct bookings, Google getting into the fray, and Airbnb throwing its weight around, you can look for online travel agencies to continue to point their businesses beyond hotels.”
- LOW-COST CARRIERS LOSE SOME LUSTER
Skift Take: Customers like low-cost airlines, but none so far have perfected the model for long-haul flights. It’s not clear they ever will.
ITTN Snippet: “Systemically, the low-cost model doesn’t work as well for longer flights as for shorter ones. Take fuel. On a long journey, it accounts for much of an airline’s costs. While low-cost carriers usually have several advantages over legacy airlines, including lower labour costs and a more efficient workforce, every airline pays roughly the same price for fuel.”
- CONSOLIDATION CREATES TRAVEL BRAND BULLIES
Skift Take: In a rush to scale, consolidated travel companies find themselves with outsized market share that often leads to muscling consumers to their advantage. With no good alternatives, how will travellers react to the pressure?
ITTN Snippet: “Make no mistake: increased segmentation ends up costing consumers more and driving more revenue for airlines. It also forces flyers to adopt an aggravated state of constant vigilance during the booking and travel process that is at odds with the stated mission of the airlines to provide comfortable and timely travel service.”
- WELLNESS IS THE NEW HOOK IN TRAVEL MARKETING
Skift Take: It used to be food that created the buzz that lured travellers to all sorts of destinations. Now, wellness is taking over as travellers seek out healthier, more active vacations. Food is still a draw, of course, but it better satisfy a wellness craving.
ITTN Snippet: “To take advantage of this momentum, smart destinations have begun prioritising wellness in their messaging, luring tourists who want to escape otherwise stressful lives or further their quest toward inner peace. And so far, it’s working: world travellers made 830 million wellness trips in 2017, 139 million more than in 2015, according to the Global Wellness Institute. If the upward trend continues — as experts predict — in 2019, the numbers could reach one billion.”
- TRAVEL LOYALTY IS OVERDUE FOR DISRUPTION
Skift Take: Being a member in loyalty programmes today is about as engaging as a trip to the auto mechanic. For most, complex rules and constraints take much of the utility out of the programmes while other, more motivated travellers simply find them uninspiring. To survive, tomorrow’s loyalty programmes will need much more than blockchain — they’ll need true disruption.
ITTN Snippet: “We are in an era of copy-and-paste loyalty programmes. Cowed by active investors and afraid of straying too far from the pack, operators of today’s airline, hotel, and car loyalty programmes run the conservative game of offering nearly the exact same thing that the competition delivers. That formula may work for now, but tomorrow’s consumers want more from their loyalty programme. Tomorrow’s travellers are less interested in the drumbeat of accumulating points for their weekly flight between Omaha and St Louis and more in how they can use those points for unique experiences. In short, they want faster gratification and deeper engagement from their loyalty programmes. Even shorter: they want disruption.”
- LABOUR SHORTAGES FORCE A WAKE-UP CALL FOR TRAVEL BRANDS TO TREAT WORKERS BETTER
Skift Take: From cockpits to guest rooms, the travel and tourism industry confronts a dire need in finding and training qualified job applicants to fill their needs. Training and rewarding workers in even the lowest-paying jobs is vital because they can make or break a brand or a trip.
ITTN Snippet: “Many tourism boards around the world grapple with training locals, from taxi drivers to airport employees, in customer service so visitors will have satisfactory experiences when arriving on vacations.”
- REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCES GAIN VALUE IN AN ERA OF TECH BURNOUT
Skift Take: Travel companies are honing their own technological innovations even as Silicon Valley acknowledges the dangers of tech overload. Travellers must find a balance.
ITTN Snippet: “Airlines, hotels, and cruise lines are working harder than ever in 2019 to foster tech-driven relationships with their customers. They are updating their apps to better track behaviours and tailor offers. They are wiring more rooms to let guests control lights, temperature, and TV settings with their phones. Cruise lines – once known for terrible and expensive Internet access – are upgrading their infrastructure to keep passengers more tech-tethered than ever. And social media remains an important way for travel companies to promote their products to consumers. Fewer eyeballs online could mean fewer potential guests at a hotel or destination.”