Travel Trends for 2015

by on 26.02.2015

Predicting the future in an industry like the travel and tourism sector is impossible, but if we look beyond our immediate surroundings we are able to detect seemingly insignificant changes in people’s behaviour and the fragile travel eco-system. These are a few trends that are relevant to South Africa for 2015.

Connecting the human to the heart

This trend will stand out above all else in 2015 and it is of particular relevance to South Africa:

Today’s consumers are dictating a more caring and committed culture, looking for value for money offerings combined with authentic local experiences. They are making choices based on their impact on the world and the communities they visit. More than ever, travellers want meaningful experiences that have a positive impact on local communities, the economy and the natural environment. In addition, going green in travel continues to gain momentum as Fair Trade organisations all over the world punt environmentally and socially responsible products to travellers.

* The work that Destinate does with the Stellenbosch Tourism Board, Stellenbosch 360, is quite enlightening as they aim to promote Stellenbosch beyond wine tourism and lay the region out to bare – warts and all.

Destinate manages Stellenbosch 360’s blog www.stellenbosch.travel/blog, writing content around the little known gems and attractions of the area such as the arts, heritage and culture, sport and study. Around the time of tourism month we also share the stories of locals on www.mystellenboschstory.co.za, a canvas of Stellenbosch inspiration.

* In early 2014 Destinate also assisted Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism with the launch of a new online platform that shares the stories of the area, focusing on aspects of the destination that had, until then, not had a chance to shine through.

The new relaxation

Whilst tourism companies are competing to make travel more relaxing, travellers themselves are spending less time “relaxing” at the poolside, opting for more active ways to explore destinations. Biking, hiking, running and cooking tours have become popular ways for people to get to know places better.

Convenience Technology has played an increasingly definitive role in achieving convenience with more consumers now in pursuit of trying to manage their days more effectively. We need to make it easier for travellers to find relevant information, enquire, book and navigate through our destination.

* Destinate has worked with Reunion Island Tourism for over a year on creating more awareness around the destination as a highly accessible island destination perfect for the active South African traveller. To launch the awareness drive we worked closely with the Reunion Island Tourism Board to create a brand new blog designed specifically for the South African market. All content is based on identified key themes for the South African market, spreads the message that South Africans do not need a VISA to travel to the destination and promotes specials on flights and activities. The hashtag #gotoReunion was created to drive awareness and track conversation within the South African marketplace.

The results? The #gotoReunion hashtag has seen 33 796 807 deliveries in people’s timelines reaching 4 642 067 individual users throughout 2014. It has had 383 538 624 opportunities to see and R9 398 695 worth of digital coverage.

The blog clicks through to an English version of their main website where travellers can book the travel experiences they’re interested in.

Online influencers

Mobile technology is transforming the tourism landscape. Social networks are fast becoming “virtual shop windows” and regular consumers like you and I are able to share our thoughts, movements and favourite things immediately, steering the buying preferences of those around us who trust our opinions.

* Destinate works with Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Stellenbosch 360 on a joint initiative called the Stellenbosch Experience, which aims to promote Stellenbosch as a leading wine tourism destination and showcase the depth of the greater Stellenbosch area’s offering beyond its quality wine. The main tools for this campaign is a blog called Stellenblog and the hashtag #visitStellenbosch, which features content from various sources, from participating members to professional bloggers and ‘regular Joes’ that love the region and have stories to share.

Shopping

Whilst online shopping allows for foreign shopping at the touch of a button and is sometimes significantly cheaper, the desire for real shopping experiences are not obsolete altogether. Malls are being reinvented as stylish community centres, becoming hubs for social and business activities, as well as the opportunity to be exposed to sought-after international brands. Another big factor in retail is food, with consumers opting for artisan bakeries, fresh-produce markets, authentic local food experiences, craft beer, biodynamic wine, designer butcheries, delis, coffee roasters, organic and locally produced goods on the rise.

* In 2014, Franschhoek Wine Valley took Destinate onboard to assist with an overhaul of their digital marketing activities and with this the launch of their new blog. In December 2014 we hosted a handful of travel bloggers in Franschhoek to experience #FestiveFranschhoek’, a week of late night shopping and festivities in the area. Last year the focus was on handcrafted goods and the excursion went down a treat with the bloggers who enjoyed Franschhoek’s wine, hand-made chocolates and High Street shopping offerings (read more).

Millennials

Travel by Millennials is on the rise and is one of the biggest growing markets in the world. Mobile payment methods, wearable electronics, real-time mobile translation and flexibility will become important tools for millennial travellers as they explore new and often ‘off-the-grid’ destinations.

* All of Destinate’s work in the digital sphere speaks to this market as digital becomes the way of the future in terms of marketing - launching online platforms that tell the stories of the area, social media that connects to these platforms, and specific hashtags that track conversations around happenings and make it easier for potential travellers to find the information they’re in search of is what’s needed in this ever-changing travel environment.

Health conscious

Consumers have become increasingly health conscious, taking to digital media for news on fitness, healthy lifestyles, daily workouts and diets, as well as apps that are able to track their progression. Yoga retreats, active holidays and responsible, healthy travel options will gain popularity in 2015.

* Destinate recognises the need to share the different aspects of a destination for a variety of travellers; always messaging wellness, health and active lifestyles alongside other content across the destination platforms we work on.

Overall, South Africa must position itself as a healthy and safe travel destination for the curious, active traveller – tailor-making experiences and packages that suit both Millennials and older generations. The one area that needs serious investment? Making it easier for the kind of travellers we want to attract to buy all-inclusive, interesting packages for travel to the country.

A more in-depth version of this blog was first posted on SA Tourism Update. You can read it here.

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