The tourism industry is constantly evolving, driven by shifts in consumer behaviour.
Alan Campbell, Brand and Marketing Manager of Premier Hotels & Resorts, unpacks some of the trends that shaped the industry in 2016:
The Move to Mobile
With Google confirming that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers, tourists are able to explore, plan and make decisions wherever and whenever they want. The industry responded to this with the provision of apps.
In addition to review apps like Trip Advisor offering tourists more information about the best places to see, eat and sleep, hotels have begun creating their own apps too. These enable guests to book their stay, order room service, make a spa appointment, set a wake-up call, get their luggage collected and grab a taxi.
The Boost in ‘Bleisure’ Tourism
Travel that blends business and leisure, ‘bleisure’, is becoming increasingly popular. Fans of these types of trips report that it helps them to work more effectively, takes some of the stress out of business travel and keeps them more relaxed while away from home. Hotels that offer the best of both business and leisure facilities have had the upper hand when it comes to attracting these tourists.
An Increase in Intergenerational Expeditions
In our fast-paced society, most families don’t get to spend too much time together. However, group holidays away offer the ideal opportunity for grandparents, parents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins to connect. Accommodation options that cater for the needs of old and young, as well as offer joined suites, are reaping the benefits.
The Surge in Social Media Reviews
In the past, online travel reviews tended to be posted solely on platforms such as Trip Advisor and online travel agent sites. Now, there has been an explosion of reviews appearing on social media sites such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Collectively, these social media platforms are surpassing the more traditional review sites as resources for potential travellers.
Looking to 2017, Campbell believes that more South Africans will be opting for staycations instead of travelling internationally due to the impact of the financial crunch on their pockets. He also anticipates that they will be more inclined to explore less popular areas. In terms of government travel, he notes that there will be a marked reduction in spend due to their efforts to curb expenditure by R1 billion year on year.
Campbell is optimistic about South Africa’s continued desirability as an international destination, but is concerned about how the country’s political climate will affect potential visitors’ perceptions. He says: “South Africa is an attractive stop for international travellers and I hope that in the next year we will be in the media for the right reasons.”