Career advisors always say ‘do what you love and you will succeed’.  I couldn’t agree more. I always loved to travel and I have been fortunate to have worked in and around the travel industry since the start of my career with Pan Am.

Over the years, we have seen some dramatic changes in the world of travel.  Believe it or not, people used to ‘dress up’ for an airplane trip – especially an international one.  Hot meals were served onboard most flights – with luxury dining on real china and crystal in First Class. And there was almost no limit to ‘checked baggage’ as travelers set out on long journeys or vacations.  Today, it’s all about ‘carry-on luggage’.

What hasn’t changed is that people love to travel.  More people are traveling now as air travel has become more affordable with more frequent flights to more destinations. In increasing numbers, they are taking to the roads, rails, ships and boats to head out and see the world.

The Internet can be credited with bringing about some of the most significant changes we have witnessed in the industry.  Travelers are more savvy and better informed. They can plan their own trips and shop for the best deals. Social media has become like a billboard where everyone can read reviews and comments. They can see Instagram posts of photos and YouTube videos.  If someone isn’t satisfied, they can tell the world.

It appeared that the Internet might also cause the demise of the traditional travel agent as people could now research and book their own trips. Not so. In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal  reports that 21st Century travel agents have recast themselves as full-service experts. Sometimes called ‘travel curators’ they cut through the clutter on the internet to design customized travel experiences including detailed itineraries and personalized recommendations.

The Internet has also changed the way we market travel. It has given rise to a phenomenon known as ‘Influencers’ – those high profile people with big social media followings who can engage potential buyers and help sway decisions.  With new FTC guidelines about paid Influencers, we can expect brands to become more transparent about their partnerships.  Many now prefer to market through Champions – real people who really love a particular brand.

As travel marketers, we need to keep a close eye on emerging lifestyle trends and their impact on travel patterns.  Here is what we are seeing:

  • More personalization – People are looking for a travel experience based on their own preferences for itineraries, services and facilities.
  • Living like a local – No longer content to be passive observers, today’s travelers want a more authentic experience. They want to connect with locals and explore the destination…its food, history, culture, and entertainment.
  • Travel that enriches – Whether a retired senior or a young family, people are looking for trips that educate and enrich. We can expect to see more focused ‘niche’ travel geared to special interests…art, music, history, literature, wildlife and nature, fashion and cooking.
  • Looking for new experiences  – Working on a real farm or a fishing boat…going on an archeological dig…or doing yoga on a sandy beach, the quest for new experiences has given rise to a new sub- category called ‘experiential travel.’

Yes, people love to travel and it’s an exciting time to be part of this dynamic industry.  It has never been more creative or more challenging.  What’s your favorite destination or your most memorable experience?  We would like to hear from you…


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