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Travel Trends 2011: Truth, Myth and Pith
The bright researchers at PhoCusWright consistently deliver quality insights and information about travel industry trends, but translating their lofty “market-speak” into language travelers can use, can be daunting.
The recent webinar aptly called "Truth, Myth and Pith, PhoCusWright’s 2011 Travel Trends" was pithy indeed.
It featured the usual stellar group of researchers, communications experts and marketing gurus.
In essence, their pronouncement was that travel, moribund if not actually dead in 2009, made a significant comeback in 2010.
But 2011 is experiencing a huge pent up demand on the part of Americans to get back on the road, in the air or on the seas.
The webinar audience of about 400 were able to vote on the top three or four trends out of the eleven posted, but here’s our take-away
• The Vacation is Back
The traveling public is not only ready to break lose and travel again, but they consider travel today to be a necessity, not a luxury.
Most of the panel predicted that the improving economy, the wide availability and use of mobile devices and the huge appetite for travel among “emerging” nations are a perfect storm of opportunity for the travel industry.
In many cases, the “developing world” has seen mobile devices hooked into travel planning and booking sites that were up and running... before the runways and airports were.
China, India and Indonesia were referenced as travel’s sleeping giants just awakening to travel options and technology.
* No Computer, No Problem
Researcher Ram Badrinathan sumed it up:“No computer? No problem.” As travel demand grows in other countries, the lack of computers is not the problem it once was.
Mobile technology and platforms have surpassed computer usage and rendered the need for a traditional computer obsolete.
More importantly, perhaps, travel suppliers are enhancing their mobile platforms to change the travel experience, to make mobile travel platforms more interactive.
So where Royal Caribbean, might have displayed a passive layout of their ship, it’s now a much more interactive display.
Bellagio, instead of mentioning its fountain, now brings it to life on its mobile application.
While China, Brazil and Mexico, may have missed Web Travel 1.0 and 2.0, they are up and running with mobile and social media strategies, building better and smarter consumer mobile travel experiences.
• Tablet Wars
Researcher Carroll Rheem noted that at a recent Consumer Electronics Show there were more than a hundred tablets on display.
While these iPad wannabes will not topple Apple, they are changing the travel experience. “The industry is just now figuring out how to exploit the tablet,” said one of the marketers.
She painted a picture of the traveler lying on a couch, scanning destinations he or she wants to visit, making the booking..and taking the tablet along.
The most immersive, fastest tablet will win the travel tablet wars.
One question was why Social Media was left out of the top trends.
Senior Director of Research, Doug Quinby, quickly answered that Social Media is no longer a trend, in travel or anything else.
Whether browser-based or mobile, Quinby pronounced Social Media to be fully part of the fabric of travel, and of life online.
I asked what about the consumers? Are we paying attention to what excites them, or only what great travel technology is out there.
Carol Rheem, Director of Research, said that the “idea generation space, “ engaging the customers and making travel planning easy and fun is a huge ongoing activity.