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Travel trends: What will define the tourism industry for the next decade?

Posted by Renee Welsh on 28-Sep-2016 10:00:00

Travel trends: What will define the tourism industry for the next decade?

The hint of sunnier weather heralds the beginning of another peak season. School holidays, long sunny days and then the New Year’s break attract locals needing a rest after a long year, and those abroad wanting to escape the cold northern winters. While many are getting ready to let their hair down, for those who work in the travel industry, these are the busiest times of the year.

In the quieter months, hopefully you’ve had some time to think about what is going to propel your business forward. Keeping up with travel trends isn’t just a worthwhile practice, in an industry where disruption is the new norm, it could be the difference between your business being around in the next few years or going the way of the Palmersaurus.

Yet, the two biggest travel trends aren’t a ‘what’ they are a ‘who.’ There are two groups who consider travelling an enormous priority in their lives and will spend their money in the pursuit of memorable travel experiences.

So who are they and more importantly, what can you do to ensure they find your tour or attraction?

Who is your customer?

In the past few years we’ve seen some really exciting new markets emerging, both in a broader global sense and specifically to Australia. There are two in particular, The independent Chinese traveller and the millennial market who have the potential to create enormous opportunities within the travel sector.

The rise (and rise) of the Chinese independent traveller

As we’ve discussed previously, the Chinese market is projected to be the biggest international market with enormous potential for growth. The Conversation has estimated that Australia is currently only attracting 1.5% of Chinese outbound travel, which equates to a considerable dollar amount, roughly between $7 billion and $8 billion a year. Given that we are snaring such a small piece of the pie at the moment, there is plenty of room for growth. In fact, Business Insider projects that growth to be 20% year-on-year.

Within these figures, there is one particular segment of the Chinese market that Australian tour operators should be focusing on: The group that Tourism and Events Queensland have called The Chinese independent traveller.

Tourism and Events Queensland have commissioned research into this emerging segment and discovered that this group is educated, adventurous and tech-savvy. They are excited by different cultures and see travel as an opportunity to immerse themselves in new experiences.

If you would like to tap into this fertile market, you should be focusing on how your experience could offer the Chinese independent traveller a unique Australian experience. The research also suggests that you don’t necessarily need to show Chinese travellers in your marketing material (because they want to come and meet locals) but you do need to be where they are. In fact, many tourism companies now have a presence on Chinese social media sites such as Weibo, Renren and WeChat.

Also consider having your website updated to include a Chinese language section, display amenities that will attract, such as free wifi or the local/authentic elements of your tour. Given how plugged-in this group is make sure your website is optimised for mobile.

Some of these considerations may seem like they will be pricey, but this market is not going away, in fact it is getting set to explode. And when it does, you must ensure that you have all the necessary elements in place to capitalise on it.

The millennial traveller

Like the Chinese independent traveller, millennials are also an exciting emerging market. Given the instability that has characterised their work and home lives, it’s no wonder that millennials are constantly putting their Toms into their vintage leather backpack and taking off.

In fact The Huffington Post estimates that they are ‘on track to spend $1.4 trillion on travel each year by 2020.’ That’s right $1.4 trillion. Luckily a lot of what drives the millennial also drives the Chinese independent traveller. They are craving real experiences, they are independent, value culture and they are also very heavy researchers.

If you want to appeal to the millennial, you need to give them a unique, personal experience (preferably one that can be snap-chatted). They love sharing stories with their friends so consider catering to that. This could include:

  • Offering a personal photographer with your experience
  • Partnering with an authentic restaurant or bar as part of your offer
  • Giving a shout-out to your customers on social media


In fact if you don’t already have a strong social media presence, it is wise to start considering ways in which your attraction can use these platforms to interact with prospective customers in an authentic and fun way. It is estimated that 36% of millennials base their travel decisions on social media and 97% use it while travelling. If you are not using social media as part of your strategy, then you are invisible to the millennial.

Key takeaways

Both of these groups, the independent Chinese traveller and the millennial, aren’t really that different. No matter the age-group, country of origin or reason for travelling, more and more people are getting on their devices to chat to their friends, discover new places and to be inspired.

Given the saturation and globalisation of experience, the need to find something for yourself, to do something novel (and then tell all your friends about it) is also going to increase. Then there are the more universal elements that travel evokes: the desire for fun, to create memories, to do something truly special. If your experience can do that for a traveller then your attraction will always be en vogue.

If you would like to know more about the new traveller, please download our guide to the top industry trends for 2016.

Refer a

Booking Boss is an online booking system for tour operators and attraction providers. Trusted by many in the tourism industry, Booking Boss is about getting you out of the spreadsheets and into the sun. We provide free education resources for operators like you, to make your business the best it can possibly be.

Topics: Blog

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