Travel Trends of 2017

March 3, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

Travel news and analysis website Skift has released what it believes are the biggest trends affecting travel this year.

Skift—a travel news, data, and analysis website—outlines changes occurring in the industry and reports on how these trends are likely to transform the travel experience for business and leisure travelers each year. The site recently issued its Travel Megatrends 2017 report.

Here are 4 of the biggest trends that will affect travel this year.

Bringing Humanity Back to Travel

In addition to being high tech, companies now need to be high touch. Travelers may stay highly connected via their mobile devices, but they still “want the humanity back in travel,” says Rafat Ali, cofounder and CEO of Skift. “All of the data in the world is much more powerful when placed in the hands of a well-trained, empathic person who can anticipate, be flexible, and help steward a cohesive experience.”

Rafat acknowledges that “travel is a huge investment of time and money.” And while travelers will not remember what companies offer through tech and what they say in their ads, they will never forget how those companies make them feel.

Combatting Overtourism

Some of the most successful and popular tourist destinations can be overwhelmed by throngs of people, especially in the summer. Getting a feel for the local culture when there are thousands of tourists surrounding you can be an extremely difficult task.

Some destinations try to combat this fact by promoting lesser-known neighborhoods and limiting new hotel construction and vacation rentals. New York City, for example, publicizes Brooklyn and even Queens as authentic Big Apple experiences to spread out tourists and deliver their dollars more widely than just in the popular Manhattan area.

Targeting 50-Year-Olds

According to Nielsen, about half of the adult population in the United States will be 50 years of age or older in 2017, and this group controls about 70% of the country’s income. It’s no wonder, then, that travel brands are targeting them. While difficult to pigeonhole, travelers in their fifties have the tech savvy of Millennials but with the far bigger cash flow of the Baby Boomer generation.

According to Skift cofounder and Editor-in-Chief Jason Clampet, travelers in their fifties are more likely to hail an Uber XL than rent a car, dislike packaged tours, and spend on travel. Fifty-something vacationers might book an Airbnb apartment or a hotel, but it all depends on the moment and their budget.

The Importance of Dining Out

The dining experience continues to evolve, and the steady flow of people and families who eat out has not lessened. In fact, says Skift’s Kristen Hawley, “The way we dine out has changed—instead of serving just a meal, restaurants have become destinations in their own right.”

Technology now allows diners to research and reserve tables using their mobile devices, creating a personalized dining experience like never before. And restaurants are taking notice, updating their designs to create more unique experiences that help them stand out and creating menus that feature items meant to be sampled and shared. Anything to garner a photo on social media.