These 5 Travel Trends Could Make or Break 2017

November 3, 2016  |  Mary DeLong

Travel & Tourism

As 2017 marketing plans are being developed, one challenge most U.S. travel marketers are facing is a decline in visitors from many of our key international markets of origin, most notably Canada, the U.K. and Latin America. Additional pressure will be placed on the domestic market to deliver even more visitors.

As a result, strategic plans will need to be focused on specific ways to grow market share.

But where to turn?

In the past few years, all five of the following travel trends have been on a very positive upswing and are expected to show continuous growth. With proactive planning, precision targeting, a little creativity and relevant consumer-focused content, nearly any destination can take advantage of these trends over the next 18 months:

Last-Minute Travel On the Rise

The trend for people to decide at the last-minute they want to get away continues to grow, especially among Millennials. In the last 12 months, one-third of all U.S. leisure travelers decided ~5.6 days prior to travel to take ~2.1 last-minute trips annually. Nearly 50% of Millennials took almost three last-minute trips deciding just ~4.8 days prior to travel. And this trend is only expected to continue since 13% of all leisure travelers and 36% of Millennials are planning to take more last-minute trips next year.

The last-minute booking trend also continues with 37% of all U.S. leisure travel visitors and 48% of all Millennials booking a hotel less than 48 hours prior to arrival. If DMOs and travel suppliers want to actively participate in capturing this segment, they have to provide the kinds of offers and last minute deals consumers are actively searching in real time.  Lower-funnel marketing programs need to be timed accordingly.

Vacationing Close to Home Continues to Grow

Staycations of two or more days within 50 miles of home nearly doubled between 2012 and 2015. In 2017, travelers are expected to take an average of three staycations. And in the next 12 months, the net increase in interest to take more staycations is a whopping 25%, with Millennials leading that pack at 38%.  The reason cited most often for taking a staycation at 44% was just wanted to get to a place and relax versus spend the time traveling. Last year nearly one in five of those that took a staycation did so because they didn’t want to leave their pet behind. Which brings us to Trend #3.

Pet Travel Has Never Been Stronger

Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. adult leisure travelers have at least one pet in their household. Three-quarters of pet owners feel guilty about vacationing without their pet. The number of pet owners saying they “always” (23%) or “sometimes” (44%) take their pet with them when they travel continues a multi-year upward trend.

That dominant four-legged travel companion is a dog at 85%. Nearly all pet-friendly hotels, rental properties, and campgrounds are only small-animal friendly — which only addresses about a quarter of pet travelers since most popular travel companion (42%) is a big dog (40-80 pounds). Curating and creating this content should be a small investment to tap this sizeable and growing market. Consider kicking off the “pet-friendly” initiative before the summer travel season in May during National Pet Week (first full week of May) to give your program a timely lift.

Celebration Vacations Booming

This trend and multi-generational travel are so intertwined it’s hard to separate. Families and multi-generational groups are increasingly traveling together to celebrate milestone events. Almost 70% of U.S. leisure travelers took a celebration vacation together. Among multi-generational travelers, the number climbs to as high as 80%.

Multi-Generational Travel

Even if there isn’t an occasion to celebrate, multiple generations still travel together. More than a quarter of all U.S. travelers are grandparents and 42% of them took a trip with both their children and grandchildren last year. 38% also took a trip with just the grandchildren. In order to truly be a multi-generation-friendly destination, DMOs and travel suppliers have to help appeal to the differing priorities, interests and abilities of such travelers. In general, Millennials are seeking adventure while their parents are looking for more laid-back options with some light adventure and their grandparents primarily just want to spend time together. When Millennials become parents they behave more like Gen Xers. DMOs and travel suppliers can play a valuable role by providing content on activities and experiences that will keep everyone happy.

BVK specializes in powering strategic marketing and advertising campaigns for some of the world’s leading vacation destinations, tourism bureaus, and travel brands. Learn more about how we can help you break through the clutter of the travel industry.

Research Sources: Sojorn + Skift – The Rise of the Last Minute Booker March 2016; TravelTripper.Com cited study by Criteo; TravelPulse; POAT 2016; Phocuswright.com/travel-research; tnooz.com – archives ; The Harris Poll “Pets are a member of the Family” May 2015; GoPetFriendly.com Pet Travel Survey; AAA/Best Western; Dogvacay.com “State of Pet Travel in the U.S.”; American Pet Products Association; Portrait of American Traveler; AARP.org “Travel finds Celebration Vacations Popular with Boomers”; LeisureGroupTravel.com “Market is strong for family celebration vacations.”  YouGov.com data analysis.

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is a Senior VP, Director of Tourism Division at BVK

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