Consumer Trends Impacting Travel in 2011

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The big consumer trends that are likely to shape travel in 2011?

The top trends reported by Travel Market Report have been evident the past couple of years but are expected to pick up more momentum this year. Experts think travelers will be shaped by these eight trends.

1. Boomers Rule

Baby boomers will celebrate their 65th birthdays this year at the rate of 10,000 people a day. They have time, money, energy, and a strong desire for experiences. Trips that appeal to this group includes trips that nourish, rejuvenate and enlighten, learning and volunteer vacations, and customized adventures. Often, trip price is secondary to “what is the cost of that week in terms of its importance in my life?”

“By the time you reach your 50th or 60th birthday, you understand that happiness is likely to come from having a great dinner with friends, a fabulous vacation, or discovering a new aspect of yourself,” said Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave in Emeryville, CA.

2. Search for Meaning

The result of the recession is renewing a focus on meaningfulness that “make people look inward at things that are really important to them,” said Daniel Levine, trend consultant. What matters now are: families and friends; education and self-improvement; health and spirituality; creativity; community involvement; and the environment.

“Travelers are willing to spend a lot of money on travel experiences, but they need different reasons to spend it,” Levine said.

3. Go Green

Environmental awareness is influencing consumer choices in a big way.

“Concern about sustainability and the planet is top of mind for everybody,” said James Canton, CEO of the Institute for Global Futures, a San Francisco firm that advises global Fortune 100 companies. At Avant-Guide, research shows that environmental concern is “the biggest social trend for the rest of our careers,” Levine said, “People are willing to pay more for things that are really important to them, and green issues are one of those main things.”

4. The Influential Consumer

Consumers are now in the driver seat and are considered the “new influentials,” according to Canton. “Brands selling direct to the consumer are now being substituted by consumers recommending to consumers.” Travelers may be getting recommendations from other consumers via the Internet, but also “want integrity of information.”

5. Defensive Mindset

“Consumers are hedging their bets against events or circumstances that might blow their budgets,” said Alexandra Smith, global trends analyst for Mintel International Group in Chicago. “It’s this defensive mindset around spending.”

6. Strong Women – With Friends

“Expect to see growing numbers of single women over 50 traveling with their friends,” said Dychtwald of Age Wave. Compared to earlier generations, boomer women are “more highly educated, more empowered, more independent, more powerful in almost every single way.” These women have money, which some  inherited from their husbands or parents, and they have a passion for learning.

“Women Boomers are taking up any invitation from friends to go anywhere where they can learn. They’re saying, ‘I’m going to South Africa. Do you want to come?’”

7. Internet Everywhere

“The Internet will be everyplace. It’s converging with TV, with computing, with cell phones. It’s the convergence of all this information technology into one kind of appliance. Every consumer purchasing decision is going to be mediated by this convergence,” Canton said. “The move to mobile computing, mobile communications, mobile transactions is going to transform consumers – always-connected devices that give me choices.”

8. Tell a Story

“The way that news and cultural influences spread has undergone a profound change,” said Lisa Johnson, CEO of the Reach Group in Portland, Oregon.

“Things that are impacting culture and what we’re talking about are trickling up,” said Johnson, “Things don’t come on slowly anymore. They come on like a flood, and they don’t have to be mainstream. Stories communicate and they spread quickly. Story is the new flavor for marketing, the enduring flavor.”

photo credit: katerha

1 Comment

  1. It will be interesting to see how these trends will pan out. I’m thinking the baby boomer travel market will be huge in the next few years. There is still plenty of opportunities for travel companies to extend their services into this market.

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