The face of the travel and tourism industry is changing rapidly, not only in the way that people access information on their holiday destinations, but also the kind of travelers and the experiences they are looking for. According to Google, 19% of hotel queries came through mobiles in 2012 , and it is predicted that more people will access the web through their tablets or phones than from desktops or laptops in 2013.
Also the profile of travelers is changing. A new report released by the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG): The new kinship economy: from travel experiences to travel relationships, identifies changing trends. The report (cited by Tourism Update 13 March 2013) identifies new emerging categories of travellers:
• Evolving families: who represent the changing shape of the family traveller today. At one end of the spectrum the industry is seeing multi-generational families taking over whole floors in hotels, whereas at the other end of the scale, the growth of the single-person household is driving the need for stimulating independent travel.
• Laptop and latte workers: a new breed of business traveller. Often young, the typical nine-to-five working environment and business centre atmosphere is alien to them. They prefer creative coffeehouse-style environments where they can be inspired by meeting other travellers while they work on their own laptops and smart phones.
• Expansive mid-lifers: the growing numbers of adventurous over 50s travellers – currently and for the first time the fastest growing and most affluent age group. These travellers seek new experiences yet demand services that respect their needs without labelling them as old.
• New global explorers: travellers from high-growth countries such as China and India. They follow well-trodden paths, want to visit all the must-see sights and are high-spenders. The report highlights that Asian travellers alone will account for a third of the world’s travel spend by 2020.
The category • Predictive Service is particularly relevant for the Guesthouse industry. This emphasizes the need for personalised and customised service. It is only in small owner run guesthouses that guests personal eating preferences are remembered for example.
Another category:• The Invisible Traveller will only apply to a hotel clientele. This describes a guest who travels, and may never interact with hotel staff. From planning to booking, check-in at the airport to check-in at the hotel, room service and even concierge services, some travellers are already opting for an entirely independent, human-free travel experience.
This will never happen at guesthouses where there is a conscious emphasis on individual needs and interaction with real live people!