There were a few acronyms at the show and Pank is my favourite. It refers to a growing trend of Professional Aunt No Kids taking their nieces, nephews and godchildren on holidays. The market in the United States is estimated to be 23 million with an average age of 36.
The Pank market is big in domestic travel, theme parks and often combines culture with adventure. Uncles are, of course, Punks.....
Another acronym that we are familiar with is BRICS now to be replaced by the SLIMMAs – which are Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina. Asia is key to global travel growth, as is Mexico which will pass the 25 million visitors level this year. Your sons and daughters may have tangoed in Argentina and now it’s time for the rest of us to try it too.
Overall Global Market
The IMF is predicting a growth of 3.8% in the world’s travel market arena and advanced markets such as the US, Japan and Europe have returned to growth and emerging markets are increasing, improvements in visa regulations are helping.
Guidebooks are back, with 59% of people taking one on holidays. Good news for NC2 Media who bought the Lonely Planet guidebook company from the BBC earlier this year and Dorling Kindersley are re-launching their colourful Eye Witness guides.
Smartphones are becoming significant in the travel market – I remember being at WTM three years ago and the talk was of these smartphones, and we all wondered how that could happen, and now look at us. Hotels are particularly enjoying the increase in business from smartphones.
Online Travel Agencies are making inroads in bookings, and this year it is the OTA market is expected to increase by 12%. Worldwide it is Expedia, Priceline in the US and CTrip in China. In Ireland we are familiar with clickandgo.com, gohop.ie,lowcostholidays.ie, steintravel.ie etc.
Social Media and roaming.
More than 60 per cent of people said that they would like to use social media on holidays and when Europe sorts out the roaming costs there will be a big upsurge in people using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ to share their holidays and keep in touch.
Do you know what a mobile concierge is? Basically it’s a person at the other end of the smartphone who will give you advice, tips or help in some way to make your holiday better. We will see a growth in companies providing this type of service as part of your holiday.
The big change in European travel is the use of peer to peer networks. Travellers using sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp and other online resources as well as friends and family to decide on where they go. Other things like meeting locals where you go, i.e.touristlink.com and car sharing, blablacar.com are a growing peer to peer resource.
The other big change is that people will be more likely to stay in self-catering accommodation. We Irish have always like self-catering, but the rest of the world is beginning to do it too. Sites like AirBnB, Homeaway.com, Housetrip are growing hugely. The hotel industry is fighting back, particularly in big cities like New York. Spain is expected to be the biggest growth market for self-catering in the next few years. The market is expected to be worth $15 billion by 2017.
The big event of the next four years begins next year with the Great War Centenary. Flanders is well ahead in the planning and there will four years of commemorative events, VisitFlanders.co.uk for the English site.
As families we may find ourselves doing a lot more exciting multigenerational things like going on Safari in Africa or doing more activities together. It may include volunteerism and sustainable holidays, as well as cruises.
The world continues to get bigger and bigger ships. The cruise market by Chinese has jumped from a standstill start to 200,000 this year and China will outstrip the US cruise market by 2017 i.e. four years. The Chinese are cruising to countries where they don’t need visas and major cruises lines have opened offices in China and moved ships there. The visa issue for Chinese is a big deterrent for any country trying to grow that market.
When it comes to flying in Europe the only way for airlines to increase business is to steal from each other. Recent news of Ryanair’s new improved softly softly approach may be behind their search for growth.
In the Middle East there is a big growth in low cost carriers, but many of them have business class too at a lower cost than other airlines. They love a bit of luxury in the Middle East. The Dreamliner, the newest, biggest aircraft now operating, despite initial problems is getting a very high satisfaction rate from passengers.
This year we had the Gathering and it has been a great success, next year it will be the year of the Wild Atlantic Way, with 2,500 kms of coastline waymarked. Not only can you drive it, but you can also now drive it by electric car, with charging points all along the way. Sports tourism will be big next year too, with US Colleges football in Croke Park on August 31 when University of Central Florida plays Penn State brining thousands of fans to Ireland. The Notre Dame vs Navy game in 2012 brought 30,000 extra visitors to Ireland.