WTM Africa Explores Consumer Trends Shaping the Future of Travel

The future of travel continues to be shaped by changing consumer needs and expectations, and today’s travel industry must adapt to stay relevant.

Delegates attending the World Travel Market Africa this week were introduced to several key consumer trends likely to impact the future of travel during which panelists discussed practical examples of how the industry can adapt and evolve to meet the needs of today’s travellers.

Panellists Christy Tawii, Research Manager at Euromonitor, Martina Barth from The Liz McGrath Collection, IGLTA and SATSA, Michaela Guzy, Founder of OhThePeopleYouMeet, and Kim Gunnell, MICE Sales Manager at the South Africa Radisson Hotel Group, covered a range of topics, including the growing importance of personalised and authentic travel experiences, the rise of luxury eco-tourism, and the impact of technology on the customer journey.

The discussion also highlighted the need for travel providers and destinations to embrace sustainability and respect local communities, as well as the importance of reaching consumers through emerging platforms such as private online communities and digital detox travel.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking travel experiences that go beyond relaxation and leisure and offer personal transformation and connection with local people and cultures,” panel moderator and Big Ambitions CEO Natalia Rosa said introducing the topic. “The industry needs to cater to this demand by providing unique and authentic experiences that resonate with consumers.”

Highlights addressed by the panel included:

Travel experiences that offer personal and external transformation are becoming increasingly popular, such as wellness retreats and voluntourism. This trend is likely to continue in the future, and providers will need to offer unique and meaningful experiences to cater to this demand.

Consumers are looking for authentic travel experiences that allow them to connect with local people, cultures, and traditions. Providers and destinations need to facilitate these experiences in sustainable and respectful ways.

Millennials value authenticity in travel experiences and can detect inauthenticity. Providers need to offer genuine and unique experiences that resonate with their target audience.

Luxury travel consumers now prioritise time, emotion, customisation, experiences, and curiosity over material possessions. Providers need to cater to these new luxury expectations.

Consumers seek personalised, tailored experiences, and providers can use data and insights to create customised offerings. However, challenges may arise from this trend.

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards domestic and regional travel, and providers can capitalise on this trend by offering unique and meaningful experiences.

Sustainability is increasingly important to consumers, and providers need to make their offerings more environmentally friendly. Sustainable tourism is likely to play a significant role in the future of the industry.

Emerging technologies such as virtual reality and AI will shape the future of the industry, and providers need to stay ahead of the curve.

With the rise of private or closed online communities for travel information, providers need to effectively engage with consumers on these platforms.

Digital detox travel is a trend where people seek out travel experiences that allow them to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature and themselves. Linked to this is the rising trend towards sleep tourism experiences.

Luxury eco-tourism is a trend where people seek out luxury travel experiences that prioritise sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Technology plays a significant role in the travel experience, and providers need to leverage mobile apps and online resources to enhance the customer journey