Conscious Travel, Going Solo and More Trends to Watch in 2020

Image: Solo female traveler. (Photo via Astarot / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Image: Solo female traveler. (Photo via Astarot / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Mia Taylor
by Mia Taylor
Last updated: 1:05 PM ET, Fri November 15, 2019

The season for making 2020 predictions is in full swing and like many other companies and brands within the travel industry, Amadeus is offering its insights regarding the year ahead.

The global travel technology company, which works with tour operators, travel agencies, corporations, hotels, airports and more, culled its predictions from a variety of research projects it has conducted over the course of 2019.

Echoing the predictions of many other well-known travel brands, Amadeus says 2020 will be the year of conscious travel.

"Sustainability has become a deciding factor for individuals purchasing travel and accommodation, and travel companies are adapting their offers to reflect this," states the company's prediction report. "From reducing plastic in hotels, to the creation of sustainably-focused package holidays, consumers are offered a wide choice when it comes to an eco-stay and are starting to hold companies accountable if they don't meet requirements."

Holidaymakers are keen to ensure that their trips will have a positive impact on the globe and there's an increased interest in understanding how tourism negatively impacts or benefits a local economy.

The shift toward more conscious travel has been gaining momentum for some time now.

In fact, Booking.com's Sustainable Travel Report 2019 found that almost three-quarters of travelers believe people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations. The report also revealed that 71 percent of travelers think travel companies should offer consumers more sustainable travel choices.

Even more encouraging, it's not just millennials leading the sustainable travel charge. Booking.com also revealed in its 2019 report that 86% of baby boomers want to stay in eco-friendly accommodation while traveling.

In addition, 35 percent of travelers in 2019 began acknowledging that they would select one organization over another based on its environmental record alone, according to an ABTA 2019 trends report.

Key takeaway - travel brands far and wide need to start heeding these calls.

Social Media Continues its Reign

Yet another dominant trend in 2020, according to Amadeus, will be the continued social media craze among travelers (sigh.)

Or as Amadeus puts it - if it's not online, it never happened.

"Instagram has more than 500 million active users daily sharing an average of 85 million photos a day," states the Amadeus release, adding that travel photos incite new wanderlust in viewers, so much so that 40 percent of Instagram users under 33 voted that Instagrammability was one of their top factors in selecting a vacation destination.

In addition, notes Amadeus, among younger generations and emerging economies, the smartphone has usurped the laptop as the travel research, booking and content sharing platform of choice. As a result, travel companies must think mobile-first throughout the user experience, said Amadeus.

There are already countless examples of global travel brands acknowledging the key role smartphones and social media play in the travel decision-making process.

Most recently, Carnival has been buying ads targeted to appear when Pinterest users searched on keywords that rookie cruise-goers are most likely to use, said Amadeus.

In addition, Tripadvisor moved to a social-media type of platform, while maintaining their booking capabilities and Ctrip's Instagram-like platform links booking capabilities to the posts, said Amadeus.

And travel world giant Lonely Planet acquired TRILL Travel, which turns Instagram posts into bookable experiences.

Going Solo: Single Travel Continues to Take Off

The rise of solo travel has also been gaining steam in recent years and 2020 will see the continued growth of this niche as well.

"Being single has long been considered temporary. But marriage rates are declining, and the singles population - those never married and those divorced - is rising globally," said Amadeus. "Travel brands need to adjust their offer to meet the needs of these travelers, as traveling solo doesn't necessarily mean traveling alone and hospitality brands must cater to a desire for social interaction and the need for solitude."

Earlier this year YouGov RealTime released data showing that 57 percent of Americans would be interested in taking a solo trip to another U.S. city. In fact, 66 percent of Americans have either done a solo trip or would consider taking one.

Also, notably, there continues to be significant increase in solo female travelers, overtaking men in frequency of solo travel. This trend dates back several years now but is still evolving and expanding. A Global Solo Travel Study conducted by British Airways in 2018 found that nearly 50 percent of women globally had taken a holiday by themselves, with 75 percent of women planning a solo trip in the next few years.

And prior to that, as far back as 2014 and 2016, travel brands had begun documenting the growth in this segment. In fact, in 2014 a survey commissioned by Booking.com found that more than half of women were more likely to travel solo than they were five years earlier.

The travel industry has responded to this seismic shift in many ways, including via companies creating increased offerings and itineraries just for women. In 2018 global leader Intrepid launched new women-only expeditions in the Middle East for instance, and earlier this year, just two months after announcing the launch of its women-only departures, Overseas Adventure Travel revealed that it would be expanding its women-only adventures for 2020, due to swelling demand.

Many cruise industry giants have also taken notice of shifting travel demographics by abolishing the long-time (and very unpopular) single supplement charge.

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