THE FUTURE OF HOLIDAY TRAVEL

Much has been said about the future of luxury and holiday travel but hotel groups such as  , IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and TIME Hotels are taking it a step further to find out trends that will work for their target tourist audience. Stakeholders within the travel industry are also investing in new innovations for seamless and more convenient travel. We have the full story.

 

While some travellers still follow the traditional route of sitting in front of travel agents for their travel arrangements, many have taken advantage of information available online and have taken control of their airline, hotel and tour arrangements online.

 

Going a step further, we now see an emergence of travel apps from airlines, hotels and agents where all bookings can be made directly from the mobile. Keeping that in mind, hotel groups, airlines and agents are investing more time and money in understanding travellers needs to stay ahead of the game.

 

We witnessed the success of Musafir.com, one of UAE's premium-experience travel website known for online campaigns with destinations to reach a wider demographic audience. Musafir.com aims to play a vital role in acquiring customers through its mobile travel app which aspires to change the way travellers book their holiday and business travel.

 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) not long ago announced the first investment by the NDC Innovation Fund, a strategic investment fund supporting innovation in airline distribution using the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard. The Fund has agreed to invest in ETA, which stands for Executive Travel App, is a Silicon Valley-based start-up company developing a mobile application to support seamless travel shopping, buying and management for the $120 billion self-managed travel market.

 

As part of the investment, ETA has committed to supporting the delivery of rich NDC-based content via its mobile platform. The aim is to develop an intuitive mobile application to seamlessly integrate personalized air, hotel, car, and in-destination services, while addressing key pain points across a business traveler’s journey. The self-managed business traveler will be able to support key aspects of his or her business trip via this app, including cross-airline product searches, displaying a unified view of their journey, engaging in community-based content with other business travelers.

 

Hotels are also investing heavily in knowing their clients needs. Recently the InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts sought the expertise of Fortune 500 Futurist, Faith Popcorn while the UAE-headquartered TIME Hotels, in partnership with BNC, have brought together a group of Generation Z teens to get their perspective on key travel and tourism issues.

 

Looking at luxury travel trends of the future, Faith focused specifically on the guest experience, service, destinations as well as hotel design for IHG. Described as “The Trend Oracle”, Faith Popcorn has worked with leading Fortune 500 companies to help them accurately predict consumer trends.

 

With a documented 95% accuracy rate, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts teamed up with Faith as part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to remain at the forefront of luxury travel. The collaboration with Faith comes as the InterContinental brand celebrates 70 years of pioneering luxury travel and looks ahead to the next 70 years.

 

Faith believes that Virtual Reality (VR) escapism and immersive brand experiences will shape service and guest experiences in the future of luxury travel:

 

§  Clanning Experiences: VR technology will enable real-time sharing of adventure and luxury among friends or family who are spread around the world. It will mean that guests and their loved ones can enjoy simulated adventures in real-time, whether it be a walk through the Serengeti or an ocean swim with extinct marine life.

§  Customised Wardrobes: Hotels will partner with fashion brands to sponsor guests’ in-room wardrobes, complete with 3D printed designer clothing. Wardrobes will be customised to suit personal taste based on online shopping habits, size and local weather conditions.

§  Fantasy Escapes: Luxury as we know it today will become so accessible that consumers will seek more extreme and un-attainable experiences. Hotels will provide guests with game-like environments for fantasy escapes, which could involve living out danger in a safe environment.

 

As the world becomes smaller each day with seamless travel solutions, collaborations to offer discerning travellers such solutions are most welcome.

 

In a press statement, Faith Popcorn commented: “In envisioning with InterContinental Hotel & Resorts to mark their 70-year anniversary, we’ve forecast what the future holds for luxury travel. Consumers will be craving immersive experiences which will allow them to indulge in luxury in both a physical and a virtual sense. By harnessing Virtual Reality (VR) and the constant flow of personal likes, dislikes and bio-data, hotels will be able to provide guests with once-in-a-lifetime experiences seamlessly and spontaneously—or so it will seem.”

 

By 2086, as space itself becomes the ultimate luxury, VR will evolve interior design so that it can be tailored by guests, and luxury travel will offer access to never-before-explored locations and immersive experiences:

 

§  Building Down: With 70% of the world’s population set to be urban by 2050, the design and structure of luxury hotels will change dramatically with brands set to adopt new architectural solutions such as ‘building down’, to fit to the changing landscape.

§  Immersive Spaces: Guests will be able to design spaces specifically tailored to their personal aesthetics and needs. From customisable holographic wall art to fully adjustable interior design, guests will be treated to state of the art facilities to ensure maximum satisfaction and relaxation.

§  World Experience: Different wings or rooms in hotels will be created to offer guests a taste of cultural experiences from different corners of the world – from golden Caribbean beaches to white blanket ski slopes, all located in the same hotel.

 

In order to continue creating new experiences for guests that elevate the everyday, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts have teamed up with world famous interior designer specializing in luxury hotel design, Tara Bernerd, for the development of the brand’s new design philosophy.

 

Tara Bernerd mentions, “InterContinental Hotels & Resorts are constantly looking to evolve their interiors and aesthetic to make their properties more unique and luxurious for guests. Interior architecture and design play a very powerful part of a guest’s experience and I am delighted to be supporting InterContinental Hotels & Resorts on their new design philosophy that will hope to see them continue to push the boundaries of luxury travel into the future.”

 

Adventure travel is becoming more popular as well. InterContinental Hotel & Resorts is set to break new territory with the Songjiang Quarry Hotel in China. The hotel is set to be built in a 90m deep quarry outside of Shanghai. Boasting cascading waterfalls, extreme sport facilities such as bungee jumping and rock climbing, underwater bedrooms and cutting-edge conference facilities.

 

It is also set to be the greenest hotel ever built, with plans to power the luxury resort with geothermal and solar energy. According to Simon Scoot, VP Global Brand Strategy at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts the collaboration with Faith Popcorn and partnership with Tara Bernerd further ensures the InterContinental brand remains at the forefront of luxury travel. Innovation and pioneering spirit is in the InterContinental brand’s DNA.

 

Other hotels are really getting to know their clients through active dialogue with different age groups. TIME Hotel brought together a GEN Z panel recently with teenagers to discuss the appeal of Dubai as a family holiday centre, and to share their insights on what the emirate can do to secure its place as a world-leading destination for family travel.

 

Currently, Dubai’s top three source markets are Saudi Arabia, the UK and India, and international overnight spend in the city last year saw tourism receipts totaling US$11.68 billion, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2015.

 

Dubai already has an active year-round calendar of visitor events with a strong family focus, including the evergreen Summer Surprises season and Modhesh World, and a host of edutainment and entertainment activities such as the Dubai Aquarium, Burj Khalifa, KidZania, Aquaventure Water Park and Ski Dubai.

 

According to the Gen Z panel, when hosting their own visitors to the emirate, the beach, mall scene, water parks and desert are top-rated attractions, but they also highlighted the need for more theme park offerings.

 

In order to grow its market share, in terms of family tourism, the teens felt that Dubai still has some work to do, especially when considering the value for money aspect. Entry to popular waterparks for example costs around AED275 and that doesn’t include transport or lunch, which would probably add at least another AED50.   

 

The consensus on hotel facilities for teens and young adults was that Dubai’s leading hospitality brands need to tailor activities to suit this well-travelled and opinionated audience, with teen clubs a big draw.

 

Travellers around the world with the internet age are learning more about destinations and the industry is responding with new tactics and innovations to help the airlines, hotels, cruises, agents and related stakeholders cope with the increasing demand.

 

 Shereen Shabnam

 

 

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