Opinions: 

Travel Tech

As the contemporary travel market develops, what once seemed like science-fiction is now becoming everyday reality. Robots are becoming a big part of the makeup of tourism as the 21st century unfolds, but other more traditional travel-related topics still remain relevant. Local, authentic food and exotic travel destinations remain incredibly important in the 2015 travel market.

EMERGING DESTINATIONS

The third of these trends is underlined by the increase in reservations to emerging destinations such as Asia and Africa. As overseas travel becomes more achievable for a wide range of people, so existing tourists are going further afield in search of spectacular experiences. Coupled with the fact that improvements in travel conditions are opening up certain locations to tourists from all over the world, there is a perfect storm in which the variety of the travel experience is widening significantly.

Thus, Okinawa, dubbed ‘Japan´s Hawaii’, tops the list of most interesting destinations for 2015. And the impact of technology is also having a significant impact on travellers. One of the interesting phenomena to develop in recent years are so-called ‘braggies’. These are selfies that are utilised to brag about places that one has visited.

Increasingly, travel consumers' attention is squarely focused on the future. A good example of this is Botlr; a technology that is now being utilised on a widespread basis. This robotic creation began in airports, but has since moved into hotels as many businesses seek an increasing automation of processes that were once tiresome and annoying to customers. Hotel and airline reservations can now be carried out almost entirely automatically.

THE AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCE

To deal with the final preference of travellers in 2015, the importance of meeting with locals in places that are truly representative of the indigenous culture is another massive trend that is developing. According to the WTW Global Tendencies Report, websites such as Eatwith.com (which encourages people to meet with home cooks) and bookalokal.com, (a network of locals in several destinations that offer meals and cooking lessons), are expanding rapidly.

Both of these websites have arguably been strongly influenced by Airbnb, with guests researching the hosts and then rating them on combination of meals, locale and cleanliness. These are essentially peer-to-peer experiences, and it is forecast that such websites will experienced a massive growth in the coming years. Authentic experiences and the connection with local indigenous people is becoming increasingly important to the sophisticated and savvy traveller of the 21st century, and this will play a major role in the development of this type of business.

Travellers want to be able to truly experience the country that they are visiting, and come away with a true appreciation of the local experience. In short, the average tourist no longer wants to feel like a tourist. And this is becoming particularly true of the vital millennial niche. Defining millennials is always a little tricky, but it is reasonable to state that this age group ranges from 18 to 34 years old. If one uses this as the benchmark, then there are potentially almost 2 billion travellers worldwide who are part of this key millennial demographic. And it is fair to conclude that most of them are motivated by “the desire to experience the lifestyle of other countries”, as established by the 2015 Tourism and Travel Trends Report.

THE ZESTRIP CONCEPT

This trend led to the idea of ZesTrip. This is a website that enables travellers to locate the zest of local flavour that could make a trip particularly memorable; a place where it is possible to meet the locals. ZesTrip aims to put emotions back into tourism, by offering authentic and exciting experiences to those travellers who like to wander away from traditional tourist areas. ZesTrip is naturally intended to appeal to those who are a bored of the traditional mass tourism experience.

ZesTrip has recruited a number of locals from a variety of locations across the planet in order to deliver this authentic experience. The ZesTrip website is advertising right now for history and art graduates, sports fans, skilled cooks and chefs, fashion addicts, professional photographers and designers, along with those who just want to share their passion and knowledge of a particular location.

With the founder of the site being Italian, this website places a particular emphasis on the Italian experience. With this in mind, on the ZesTrip open blog, a variety of locals are already hosting their advice on how to live in Italy like an Italian, with travellers also able to share their own authentic Italian tourism experiences.

There will always be a place in travel for luxury, but the importance and commercial value of authenticity at the start of the 21st century certainly cannot be underestimated. This connects with an important millennial demographic, which is one that is actually most likely to engage in tourism. As the millennials pass their values on to a younger generation, it is likely that these trends will grow broader rather than receding, so it is advisable for travel marketers to pay extremely close attention to them right now.

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