Travel Trends for 2016: Emerging Travel Segments

Millennials, baby boomers, and business travelers are all market segments that most hotel marketers are familiar with. These segments, in particular, have been in the spotlight over the past year as new behaviors and preferences have emerged. Well, bad news for anyone who is tired of hearing these travel marketing buzzwords: they aren’t going away any time soon. Rather, these highly coveted and growing group of frequent travelers are blurring the lines between traditional travel behaviors and up and coming travel trends.

Here are the top travel segments to watch out for in 2016

1.) “Bleisure”

Fans of portmanteau words will appreciate this up and coming travel segment, officially referred to as the “business leisure traveler”. Gone are they days of in and out conference trips and redeye flights. Though jam-packed travel agendas certainly still exist, more and more business travelers are going out of their way to extend their business trips to enjoy new destinations and new experiences.

According to a recent report, 60% of business travelers have taken “bleisure” trips and 30% of business travelers have added two additional days to their trip to enjoy additional activities. Additionally, 78% of those surveyed agreed that adding leisure to business trips adds value to work assignments and 60% said they are more likely to add in leisure to their trip now versus just 10 years ago.

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So what exactly is the “bleisure” traveler looking to enjoy outside of the boardroom? Sightseeing, dining, and absorbing local arts and culture top off the bucket list as travelers seek to take in brand new experiences and understand more about different regions and cultures.

2.) Soft Adventure

As the baby boomer generation grows so does their sense of adventure. According to the population bureau, there are currently over 75 million baby boomers living in the United States. To put that in perspective, this single segment of the population represents about 25% of the total population. Baby boomers grew up in an interesting era that has shaped their need for education, adventure, and travel. This has led to an entirely new travel segment knows as the “soft adventure traveler”. While baby boomers might not want to jump out of airplanes or go rock climbing in the Grand Canyon (though some certainly might), they also don’t want to ride the couch until and soak up soap operas all day until their days are over.

“Soft adventure” refers to activities that get one out of the house and require a certain degree of mental and physical fitness but that do not necessarily provide the thrill or risk of “hard adventure” outings like skydiving. Soft adventure activities are common on vacations and include activities like snorkeling, fishing, hiking, cycling, canoeing, horseback riding, safaris, local tours, and much, much more.

From a hotel perspective, adding these activities to your offerings either through on-site instructors or through strategic local partnerships could massively broaden your appeal to these “soft thrill seekers”.

3.) Health & Wellness

Though this travel trend might not be new, health and wellness tourism is on the brink of officially “booming”. In fact, this industry is just shy of reaching the $500 Billion mark and has grown over 12% in the past year alone. Do we have your attention yet?

To tackle this segment, one must first understand what “health and wellness tourism”
really means. On a broad sense, health conscious travelers are either traveling to seek rejuvenation and to focus on enhancing their overall well-being or are simply seeking health conscious alternatives to take advantage of during otherwise normal travel, like a vacation or business trip.

hotel yoga health and wellness travel

Hotels can differentiate themselves and take advantage of this expanding market in several ways. First, and perhaps most obviously, any on-site dining facilities should offer health conscious alternatives, including utilizing fresh, local products whenever possible and maintaining the flexibility to accommodate special diets. Furthermore, offering on-site exercise facilities, yoga and meditation areas, or even providing communal bikes or group classes can go a long way in keeping current guests happy and attracting new ones.

If you do embrace and promote healthy lifestyle options, be sure to showcase that through your website and other marketing collateral to ensure potential guests know everything that your property has to offer.

Times are changing, as are travelers and traveler expectations. Are any of these emerging travel segments important to your hotel? And, if so, what are you doing to reach these niche audiences through marketing and through specific property offerings?

Want to see more? Be sure to download our full 2016 Travel Trends Report for a deep dive into our top 3 predictions for the coming year.

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Meisha BochicchioTravel Trends for 2016: Emerging Travel Segments
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