Back to newsBack to news  |  21st June 2024

After a few bumpy years, the global travel and tourism industry is in pretty good shape with revenues estimated to reach €866.03 billion euros (US$927.30 billion) this year, according to Statista. With resilience and a willingness to adapt, tour operators and cruise lines have successfully navigated the challenging economic landscape and fulfilled customer expectations for new destinations and holiday formats.

Statista data suggests package holidays – in one form or another – are expected to capture the lion’s share of consumer spending in Europe this year. According to ABTA, packaged holidays accounted for 61% of UK bookings this year (2023-24) with Spain, Germany and Italy, among the trending destinations.

Even though the outlook is optimistic, consumer attitudes constantly change and keeping abreast of trends that impact the travel industry can help tour operators and cruise lines plan and adapt strategies accordingly.

Automated Booking

Automation is essential to growth in the travel industry. This includes investment in automated third-party systems that allow travel brokers to provide seamless end-to-end efficiency, accuracy and transparency throughout the booking process.

While global online travel booking market was worth €560.36 billion euros (US$600 billion) in 2023 (and estimated to exceed €747.14 billion euros (US$800 billion) by 2028), UK bookings through a travel professional have remained steady over the last few years. ABTA figures indicate that consumers are drawn to them because they offer value for money, save time, and give users access to expert help and advice. As a result, 35% of travellers chose this holiday booking method in the last 12 months – for cruises (50%), all-inclusive (50%) and package (49%) holidays.

Awareness of emerging technology is essential for business growth – to foster adaptability and competitiveness. Furthermore, technology is being used in other creative ways to engage customers, such as creating a hyper-personalised experience.

AI and Data-Analytics

Generative AI and machine learning is changing how we book and experience travel; it can help consumers find holidays, create personalised recommendations, dynamic itineraries, and improve customer service through the use of intuitive chatbots.

Access to historical and real-time data enables operators and brokers to anticipate and respond to evolving travel demand, optimise their offer and enhance the overall travel experience. In addition, by harnessing data, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and quickly adapt to new trends.

Data analytics generated by online activities, give travel companies valuable insights into consumer behaviour, preferences and travel patterns, allowing them to create personalised recommendations, including tailored itineraries and suggestions based on personal interests.

Moreover, airlines using AI to monitor and reduce the impact of pollution from contrail clouds that account for around 35% of aviation-related global warming. This innovative approach uses satellite, weather and flight data to map and predict contrail formation, allowing pilots to cut contrails by 54%. In addition, predictive AI can help customers avoid crowds and provide exclusive access during off-peak times and enhance the travel experience.

Experience Travel

Consumers are increasing seeking experience holidays to make up for missed opportunities during the pandemic and, in many cases, holiday destinations are inspired by data-driven recommendations. This combined with streamlined booking systems – whether online or through travel brokers – have helped boost industry recovery.

Alternative holidays are increasingly popular and provide a lucrative source of revenue. This includes Bleisure travel, transformational trips, and sustainable tourism.

More and more consumers are combining business trips with leisure, known as Bleisure travel, that satisfies demands for a better work-life balance. Bleisure is a growing trend among both millennials (aged 25-34) and experienced travellers, with benefits for businesses, employees, and the travel industry; it improves employee satisfaction, costs companies virtually nothing, and provides a additional source of revenue for travel companies.

Similarly, transformational trips, such as wellness getaways, holidays in off-grid locations or retreats, and set-jetting (for film buffs) cater for in-demand holidays that offer authentic and immersive experiences. Likewise, sustainable tourism supports environment-friendly aspirations and travel companies that support carbon-reducing initiatives are likely to win favour with consumers.

Group Travel

Group travel is experiencing a resurgence, prompting tour operators to block book seats on aircraft. Following the pandemic there’s been an increased demand for family reunions, destination weddings, corporate events, and group trips. The social phenomenon ‘togethering’ shows travellers are more interested in travelling with family or with a group. If tour operators and cruise lines incorporate this trend into their marketing strategy, there is huge opportunity to secure higher value forward bookings.‌

Short and Micro-Cations

Shorter trips and micro-cations are gaining popularity as travellers look to maximise their time away. Series seat booking for popular bank holiday travel periods means as a tour operator you have access to the flight availability for peak travel periods

Many tour operators are keen to promote travel over bank holidays and days like valentine’s pushing shorter breaks, but more often than not they don’t have the operations in play to make real commercial value. Having series seats with a partner like Skytrail will ensure you have the right availability for the periods you want to make more commercially viable.

Booking efficiency with Skytrail

Skytrail helps tour operators and cruise companies optimise their customers’ travel experience. Our specialist team can arrange last-minute or advance single seat or group bookings with major airline partners, or whole plane charters, to destinations throughout Europe and worldwide. Skytrail’s state-of-the-art OPTO booking system allows us to provide a fast, efficient, and seamless booking service for our customers.