Radha Patel writes: We’ve just finished a new report for the IHG Group (Intercontinental Hotels, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza) on the future of travel, which was launched today by IHG’s chief executive, Richard Solomons, at an event in London. The new kinship economy: from travel experiences to travel relationships develops a theme of The Futures Company – and then uses it as a lens to explore the future of the travel sector.
The big trends that will shape the travel sector are, in a sense contradictory. On the one hand we see the rise of the new Asian travellers, who have the budget for the first time to see the world’s sights; on the other, travellers from richer markets are looking to explore ‘unknown cities’. As in other categories, demand is being shaped by some of the big social shifts, in particular the ageing population; the over-50s – the ‘expansive mid-lifers’ are growing fastest in numbers and have more money to sprend. At the other end, the changing attitudes of millennials is creating a new generation of business trveller that values informality and exchange with other travellers.
And, of course, digital and social media are now deeply embedded in the travel experience. For the hospitality sector, this is producing its own paradoxes. The new ‘invisible traveller’ – who has researched and booked online – may be happy to have no contact with hotel staff, even having their room activated by, say, a mobile download. ‘Predictive service’ though, describes a world of deeply customised and personalised service – in which the traveller’s digital footprint makes it easier for the hotel to respond to their visitors’ preferences.