The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently released a wide-ranging report in which it discusses the various ‘mega trends’ that it forecasts in the global travel industry over the coming decades.
One of the headline figures – perhaps alarmingly for those keeping an eye on the pace of climate breakdown – is a prediction of eight billion air travellers by 2037, though the report also suggests that travel and tourism companies will need to take sustainability into account, responding to trends in ethical consumption by ensuring that the destinations they promote remain well protected.
The report also notes that consumers seem to be moving away from treating travelling and similar experiences as social currency and focusing more on shared experiences that inspire stronger personal connections and drive self-improvement and existential meaning. It states that millennials and Generation Z are less interested in the words of experts than previous generations, have little loyalty towards brands or employers, and therefore rely on personal networks when making decisions around travelling. Technology is something that the modern consumer tends to be comfortable with, but at the same time over-automation is a cause for concern; consumers still relish the human touch where possible and want to be treated as individuals by the companies that provide services for them.
“We live in an era of rapidly accelerating change,” said Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of the WTTC. “Powerful, global forces are fundamentally changing the way we live, work and travel at a rate we have never witnessed before. These converging forces – or mega trends – present immense opportunities for those who recognise them and adapt their strategies. The challenge is for destinations and businesses to embrace the opportunities of this changing global landscape and the expectations of tomorrow’s consumers.”
According to the report, the most profound and seismic changes in the travel sector over the coming decades will involve: technology, as people’s lives become more integrated and connected; new economies such as the gig and sharing economies, which will change working and cultural expectations; the ubiquity and power of data; shifting geopolitical and social power dynamics; and the need for eco-friendly, sustainable living and business practices, as ballooning populations and resulting consumption habits rub up against the unfortunate reality of a finite world.