Travel Trends 2020

Generational shifts – A number of last year's travel trends have climbed right into the new decade but as trends go, they shape and mold to our ever-evolving sociological needs and issues. Social media has certainly managed to blast every world border out of existence up to and including... space. Yes. Puzzling as it is, what with space tourism not quite a reality just yet, the rising excitement around Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic's progress toward space tourism has pushed space travel right onto the Travel Trends 2020 list.  Internet millionaires from Gen X on down, appear to be ready to take on the challenge!

The Influencer Effect – We can't help but wonder how Greta Thunberg feels about the notion of blasting toward the skies in a rocket? The next generation to enter the travel market is Gen Z (currently 10 - 25 years old). While environmental consciousness is certainly not new or indeed restricted to any one generation, Gen Z with Greta at the helm of environmental activism will drive massive change throughout society and the travel industry. As last year's trends morph with this year's issues and demands, changes are already afoot.

Not planes, but trains, automobiles and undertourism – They are three trends that could be good news for Vendée hospitality businesses much more than say... space tourism. For travellers seeking tranquil surroundings, nature, and friendly local culture over the usual over-touristy destinations, the Vendée is quite the perfect vacation destination. Add in genuine curiosity about how an area (and its people) was shaped historically and well... Bob's your uncle. Question is, are you ready to reevaluate the travel demands of overworked, over-stressed and environmentally conscious travellers?

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Meeting the negative impact of travel... starting now

Selecting a holiday destination depends more than ever on how to get there with a reduced carbon footprint, suggesting a shift toward train -and car travel over flying. Rail companies in Europe are taking predictions to heart by adding more high-speed trains to -and from Paris throughout the high-season this year.

While the Vendée is easy to reach by train, even the tourists arriving at its golden beaches by shuttle bus from Nantes, La Roche-sur-Yon, or La Rochelle may enjoy a day or two of adventuring in the Vendéen countryside which may increase the need for car-hire.

Helping travellers achieve their goal of sustainable travel is not only set to become a necessary part of customer service, the adaptive process will help to reduce your own carbon footprint.

Environmentally friendly accommodations are equally important. It would be quite difficult to meet that demand overnight, but our tips can get you started.

  • Partner with a car rental company that offers low-emission cars.
  • Collect guests at the local TGV train station (La Roche-sur-Yon).
  • Talk about your up-cycled furniture and processes.
  • Bamboo over plastic (e.g. bamboo straws, bamboo toothbrushes...)
  • Buy local, or create an organic veg garden.
  • Use non-toxic, sustainable building materials, paints and cleaning products.
  • Drought or not, limit shower time and water usage.
  • Use/ offer ethical brands

Whatever you choose to implement, through good SEO on your website and clever content on social media platforms, make it a point to mention how your accommodations and services are growing to help balance the negative impact of travel.

Platforms to list sustainable vacation homes are Zerobnb and Fairbnb. There is also a new search engine to book hotels Ecosia Travel which uses proceeds from booking commissions to plant trees.

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Vegetarian and Vegan alternatives

Ecotourism manifests in many different areas of the hospitality business. Green accommodations can mean anything from going back to nature, to sustainable construction and solar energy, to vegan or vegetarian meal options served at breakfast or supper and much more.

A bigger city like Challans or La Roche-sur-Yon does have multiple vegan restaurants but otherwise the Vendée is not exactly big on this concept... yet. It is time to rethink this approach. Necessity is the mother of all reason, after all.

In fact, in most cafes or restaurants it seems vegetarianism is nothing more than an afterthought while veganism is otherworldly altogether. To welcome our vegan and vegetarian travellers, it is therefore important to bring change locally.

An organic garden where guests and children can pick vegetables fresh to prepare for dinner in an area where veganism and vegetarianism still seems 'conceptual', is a very good idea. Parents will not only appreciate the wholesome food, but also the opportunity for an immersive experience to be shared with the whole family... right on the doorstep. It is the amenity to offer your guests!

Food is not the beginning, nor the end of vegan friendliness. It also translates to no animal-derived products in the guestrooms.  Out are goose feather, wool, silk and leather. In are mattresses and bedding fashioned from breathable plant-based materials like hemp, organic cotton, or bamboo. More tips:

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Clothing... optional

The desire of going back to basics is not at all superficial. Like conscious travel and veganism and many other emerging or growing travel trends, going au-naturel is not so far-fetched considering our fast-paced, technology dependent lifestyle.

Much more than getting naked, shedding the outer layers is very much a sociological response that symbolizes a desire to strip back, to de-stress and to disconnect from hectic lifestyles; to feel liberated, equal... even vulnerable among like-minded individuals. A nakation is not only about the accommodations we choose, but about embracing a travel experience that extends to activities like nude hiking, nude yoga, nude cycling, sunbathing etc.

Social media influencers such as @naturistgirl or @a.naked.girl whose online platforms are growing and growing... and growing, explain the what and the how of this type of travel. Have a look at what they are doing. More tips:

  • create a tasteful social media presence on Instagram.
  • read about social media tips for Naturist Businesses here.
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Microcations, the top trend

Micro-holidays have been trending in recent years for a plethora of reasons from "cheeky trips" like stag -and hen parties or friend-escapes, to family reunions, to gastronomical escapes and romantic getaways etc etc. But more and more, micro-holidays are yet another sign of just how much we need to decompress away from our normal environments.

When we stay home for long weekends, after all, there is always something that needs doing.

Shifting slightly from last year, frequent micro-getaways are becoming the way to unwind and recharge the batteries. In a direct extension of the conscious travel trend, tiny-trips foster slow travel by car or train. They are a gateway for sampling curated experiences regardless of the season, and yes, count foodie holidays among them as well.

Tips:

  • it is predicted that micro-holidays will be the 2020 trend to count on for hospitality business owners
  • focus advertising with special offers and niche marketing for all seasons
  • wellness is an important part of micro-getaways
  • Check these Exodus Edits holidays for microcation inspiration
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Emphasis on mental health

For many years now, healthy living remains an important reason for well-being travel. Nutrition and fitness holidays, yoga retreats, cheaper medical procedures or holistic healing, healthy aging and spiritual pilgrimages drive our fellow-man-and-woman in choosing their holiday destinations.

But like other well-established travel trends, there is a shift toward well and truly decompressing. Perhaps the idea of physical exercise is too much an extension of the normal workday, rather than a relaxing holiday activity? Possibly.

Mental wellness to help combat fatigue is top priority. The trend encompasses a myriad of possibility, some of which (such as non-toxic spa treatments) are also rooted in eco-friendliness. 2020 also introduces a strong desire to go back to nature with clean breathing and... forest bathing, two trends to which the Vendée is ideally suited.

Forest bathing knows its origin in the Japanese culture. In shinrin-yoku one simply turns off the phone and walks into the forest barefoot to fill the senses with its sounds and atmosphere. The activity is simple, free, and effective as it appears to subdue cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body. Pillars of travel like Yoga or meditation have flowed into the practicing of breathing techniques in pollution-free environments for clean breathing.

Detoxing and tension-release are big with sound massages (a sound bowl is used to create sound frequencies, hereby alleviating tension in the body), and with hypnotherapy massage to relieve tension and muscle pain. Both techniques show an inherent need for relaxation and recharging the batteries. In addition, infrared saunas are also in high demand. Unlike the traditional method, infrared heats from within, releasing endorphins and resetting the sleep pattern. Tips:

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It started with the Mayflower

While it's not uncommon to tread the footsteps of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents e.g. to follow their path in one of the World Wars, ancestral travel seems as surprising an emerging trend as space travel.

Why is that? Look no further than the ready availability and affordability of at-home-DNA kits.

This year also marks the 400th anniversary of immigrant ship the Mayflower which sailed 102 passengers from the shores of Plymouth to America. It is estimated that, today, 30 million Americans can trace their ancestry back to that voyage. Isn't that fascinating?

The Mayflower itself probably has little to nothing to do with the Vendée, but many a prisoner and immigrant were shipped from the Atlantic shores in France, to North America as well and the ancestral tourism trend is expected to grow.

In spring 2019, Airbnb announced a partnership with biotech firm 23andMe, offering travel experiences based on ancestry meant to make it easier to plan a true heritage holiday where local culture and a sense of belonging in the greater world are central. Tips:

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From Friendmoons, to skip-generation, to sharing expenses

Family and ‘multi-generational’ holidays, including ‘skip-gen’ trips,  where grandparents take grandchildren on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, were already on the rise last year. Anno 2020, we can add friendmoons to the list of travel trends.

As generations go, the Boomer generation is busy retiring, the Gen-X and Millennial generations are experimenting with a better work-life balance and Generation Y-Z is reaching travelling age.

Family reunions, multi-generational holidays, bachelor -and bachelorette parties, even cycling holidays and girlfriend trips, lend themselves to group travel to which large holiday homes, manoir B&Bs and chateaux are popular accommodation options.

Friendmoons is just what the newly coined term suggests: it's a proper honeymoon, with friends along for the journey. Behind the friendmoon lies the wonderful idea to keep the wedding party going for a few days longer in a lovely location as life is busy and best friends have less time to spend with each other.  buddymoon – or matemoon, friendmoon, honeybud

Summer or winter, special occasions or just as a getaway... group travel is about togetherness with friends and family as well as cost sharing.

Tips:

  • friendmoons are a new niche market to target with interesting packages and specials.
  • other keywords are buddymoon, matemoon, or honeybud.
  • think about what off-season specials can you offer (incl. itinerary suggestions) to groups and families to facilitate togetherness and cost savings?
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Of ladies and waves...

In the realms of travel trends, surfing knew an upsurge in 2019 and with the sport reaching Olympian status for the first time in Tokyo 2020, the interest in learning or honing surfing skills is set to continue. Sadly, surfing influencers have talked about the Vendéen coastline often being overlooked as a suitable location to practice the sport.

World-wide, surf parks with artificial waves are in the works, specialist retreats are being organised, and surfing outfits are expanding to accommodate the demand.

Interestingly, the sport is being embraced by women more and more, which offers niche marketing opportunities. Research where these women are spending time on social media and engage!

The Vendée region receives the highest sunshine hours on the French Atlantic coast and according to connoisseurs there is a good selection of underrated waves from spring through fall, even without the power of the more famous surfing spots further south. Our tip:

  • research outfitters (surfing business) that offer courses from beginners on.
  • have the information available in your hospitality business even if it is located in the countryside.
  • invite a surfing social media influencer to stay with you
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Extending home, on vacation

A super luxurious travel experience is no longer preferred by some travelers. In yet another effort to escape over the top busy lifestyles, simplicity is key. Home design has become more spartan and clean, even linear - fostering the idea of bringing order to chaos.

Less is more. In the new wave of trends, the traveller is looking for a simpler way of life. Tasteful minimalism is an antidote to daily stress, beginning at the packing stage at home. Tourists are bringing less for easier journeys and simpler arrivals. They want a feeling of being home away from home, and... pets are an integral part of the family. According to booking.com, 42% of pet owners choose their holiday destinations based on pet-friendly accommodations and activities, and they are willing to pay extra for it.

Our tip:

  • reduce knick-knacks for a clutter-free but homely accommodation
  • create pet-friendly spaces
  • include special pet-amenities
  • investigate inviting a volunteer traveller to pet-sit for your guests
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Last but definitely not least

With busy lifestyles our travellers place more of an interest in having that all important travel plan delivered to them ready-made and tailored to their budget and family.

While it's no longer unusual for modern-day travel to bloom from the heart of social media, there is an over-representation of 'the usual' destinations, fueling desire to vacation far away from the beaten tourist path with targeted experiences and curated adventures will become the new norm, off- season travel included.

Trends show a shift towards the adventurous, village life, and living like the locals do. We want to drill right down into what an area has to offer through immersion.

This trend extends to a myriad of sub-groups (not that we like this word, but for the purpose of niche marketing...) such as LGBTQ+ friendly travel. The data-driven search platform Destination Pride provides info on LGBTQ+ laws, rights and social sentiment in any country and area. Another extension is Humanitarian and Volunteer Travel.

Exploring different countries for a cultural exchange while supporting local communities, the environment or interesting projects remains important.

This type of travel can range from disaster/ rebuild. to plastic clean-up and other volunteerism. Research: VolunteerForever  and Projects Abroad and Working Traveller,  Workaway. stayonskill.com. Our tips:

  • from transportation to accommodations, to experiences,  work with local service providers or hospitality businesses to create curated travel packages. Share them on social media.
  • it's a nice idea to offer e.g. a 7-day itinerary specific to your [rural] area as a digital gift in return for newsletter sign-up.
  • with growing desire to tour an entire area or taking in two or three destinations in one trip (cost savings and environmentally friendlier), working together, even with the competition, will become more important than ever.

THE VALUE IN TRAVEL TRENDS

Keeping up with news reports in recent weeks, you may have heard that two night trains are being reinstated from from Brussels; boozy destinations like Ibiza are changing marketing strategies to clean up their image; the Netherlands is no longer promoting traditional tourism.

Leaders of cities like Amsterdam, Dubrovnik and Venice have listened to the locals and made the tally of security and infrastructure repair costs.

Tourists are welcome, but e.g. by hugely increasing tourist taxes, removing souvenir stands from the streets, restricting the number of cruise ships docking at port, reducing the number of tours in city centers and even the number of restaurants with street-side seating...

...the war against the mass-tourism of recent years is officially waged.

These strategies also support the idea of emerging ecotourism and undertourism trends. Through strategic marketing and social media these actions will have a major impact locally, but also for less well-known areas.

According to statistics published by Vendée Expansion, tourism has been growing steadily in the Vendée.

So, how can 2020's travel trends be translated to your business? How can you transform to meet the traveller's ever evolving needs and bucket lists and translate that to social media marketing and finding your target groups? Or what are you already doing that fits the bill?

Use the latest trends to connect the qualities that are inherently part of the Vendée with strategic planning, let them guide upgrades to your services, and use social media to create a path that leads (new) guests to your business for direct bookings.

Our prediction for an emerging travel trend in 2021 are bookings through online organizations that facilitate a vacation payment plan.

Check back next year to see if we're right!

Images pixabay
Sources – Forbes, Traveller, The Independent, CNN travel, BBC travel

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