Around the globe, more people are taking off in search of exotic cities in 2016, using personalized travel apps to knock down their biggest barriers to travel. That’s the picture emerging from statistical data provided by this year’s ITB World Travel Trends report, the Visa Global Travel Intention study and the WTM Global Trends report. After many years of declines in travel and tourism due to economic woes and safety concerns, the global desire for adventure and exploration is finally heating up again. Take a look at 5 of the most exciting travel trends today and one app that ties them all together.
- Cites On Top In The Off Season
Trips centered on specific cities, as opposed to natural wonders, have grown by 82% over the past few years. They now come in second only to sun & beach holidays. In comparison, the number of trips involving regional tours has risen only slightly and countryside destinations have stalled. Among the top reasons that travelers are choosing cities is the timing. The biggest increase in number of trips (60%) is in the January to April timeframe. While summer is still the preferred travel season, off-season is less expensive and offers original city attractions, mostly indoors due to weather conditions.
- China Launches New Travelers
Last year, China moved up to second place, after the US, in most money spent on outbound travel. 84 million people in China took trips last year. Travel from Asia Pacific overall leads the world growth, with a 65% increase up to 170 million trips last year. China outpaced Japan this year to be the number one country in the region with the most outbound journeys. Going forward, more than a fourth (27%) of Chinese travelers say they intend to travel more in 2016 over the prior year. All this adds up to the fact that China’s travel spending is on track to reach ¥3.9 trillion ($615 billion) by 2020. They way they use technology to book travel is leading the world also. Two out of three travelers in the Asia made their arrangements entirely online, using advice social media and blogs. One of the biggest difficulties cited by these new travelers is adjusting to different time zones. In China, the entire country is governed under one time zone, which adds a layer of complexity to their international travel. Simply crossing the border from western China to India takes a travel backwards in time by 2 ½ hours.
- Into The Unknown
The outré is in. In other words, travelers are seeking more exotic destinations along roads less travelled. Until recently, the majority of travelers seemed content to visit to the old favorites: Hong Kong, Paris, Istanbul, Cairo. In 2016, more travelers are going to places they can’t pronounce, such as Hafnarfjörður, Iceland, and Sossusvlei, Namibia. Similarly, formerly niche travel trends that have gone mainstream this year include ultra-short holidays, extreme adventure travel, health & wellness escapes, culinary tours, multi-generational packages, historical re-creation programs and itineraries based on the journeys of fictional characters.
- Travel Apps Take Charge
Nearly 60% of online travel sales are coming through travel apps. Travelers are using them to improve their travel experiences and for practical necessities that were highly inconvenient before now. For example, the Xe currency exchange app helps travelers trying to do more on tight travel budgets as well as to recognize scams on the spot. To help them spend less time with their noses buried in guidebooks, Yelp’s Monacle turns any smartphone into an augmented reality device, overlaying travel info on top of camera images. Travel apps are keeping voyagers safer, as well. Wolfram Sun Exposure app issues warnings about approximately how much time you can lay in the sun before you burn, given inputs like your GPS location, the time of day, your skin type and SPF level. As apps move into the Internet of Things and next gen devices that are more convenient for travelers, like the Apple watch, the demand for practical travel apps has grown exponentially.
- The World Gets Personal
The small but rapidly expanding market share of sharing tourism, such as AirBnB and BlaBlaCar, made a big impact this year. Non-hotel arrangements accounted for 40% of international stays in 2015, but that includes traditional bed & breakfast rooms, camp grounds, water-based accommodations and youth hostels. Sharing tourism specifically refers to peer-to-peer travel arrangements brokered directly over the web instead of using traditional vendors for hotels, cars and organized tour operators. Language and time coordination problems continue to plague travelers on these networks, but the always-on messaging channels and electronic currencies like Paypal have greatly simplified logistics. In the past, travel agents would have to set alarms to call at odd hours, pay expensive long distance rates and wire money for special arrangements like these. Those days are long gone.
Five in One
The influence of all five of these trends can be seen in the new Circa travel app by labs108 and Carbon12. It simplifies the complexities of the world’s time zones into a visually stunning and fully personalized travel dial. Travelers can add their own unique set of destination cities and they appear as concentric time arcs that can specify ideal arrivals, departures, open hours and meeting times. In a glance you can see the time in your current or home city compared to cites anywhere in the world. You can just turn the dial with your finger to answer the essential traveler’s question “If it’s X o’clock here, what time is it there?” It’s optimized for Apple Watch in addition to iOS and Android phones.
There are versions for both Android phones and iOS phones, as well as a new version for the Apple Watch. In its latest update, Circa added Chinese language support for both Simplified and Traditional characters. The name of the app even sounds the same in Chinese (Circa becomes 时刻 and 時刻). On the back end, developers are constantly expanding Circa’s functionalities to help global travelers. For example, the intelligent city search now accepts non-Latin characters, such as 西雅图 or תל אביב .
For many globe trotters, the fun of mapping out the journey and figuring out how to get there is the best part of travel. Others just want to hit the beach as soon as possible. No matter where you fall on that continuum, it’s essential to get your timing right if you want to have an epic adventure. Never miss a international connection or a rare meeting due to timing issues on the road. The Circa app is one piece of critical gear that every world traveler needs to pack.
ITB World Travel Trends
WTM Global Trends