As the travel industry looks for signs in current trends that will hint at the future of tourism, many indications point to a drastic paradigm shift. Several emerging factors show a radical change in how people wish to experience their leisure time, and to be truly successful, the travel industry will need to internalize these changes in the coming years.
Some hotels, such as Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York, already embody several of these new trends; today the resort is a sprawling complex of lofty towers that overlook a quiet mountain lake, with an indoor pool, spa, workout center and a myriad of outdoor activities. Travelers today want more than a corporate hotel stay; they are looking for a rounded experience that adds a sense of history or includes a meaningful purpose behind the place they temporarily call home.
Historic hotels such as this are able to fulfill the longing for substance by introducing travelers to the surrounding culture of their location or by bringing history alive through such time-honored activities as hiking ancient deer trails, canoeing on a lake or sitting out under the stars. Travelers can enjoy the simple pleasures and delight in the pastimes of yesteryear in a way that is unavailable to them in modern hotels.
Forward-thinking hotels are beginning to adopt another popular trend, that of preservation and eco-friendly travel. Buildings listed as a National Historic Landmark in celebration of their past can also encourage preservation by engaging in recycling and adopting other “green” practices to lower the impact they have on the surrounding environment. Travelers who wish to enjoy their leisure time without impacting the planet in a harmful way are assured that their stay at one of these hotels will remain true to this endeavor. Weather patterns are changing dramatically and while businesses have no control over this, they can take steps to assure their guests that they are working with the environment rather than against it.
Another trend that is arising in the travel industry is an increase in leisure travel in both China and India. These countries each have a population around one billion and their entry into the travel market means businesses can expect an uptick in visitors from these two locations in the decades ahead. To take advantage of this growing market, businesses should offer resources for these travelers in their own language and provide some of the familiar comforts of home for them to enjoy while they are far away. In 2014 alone, there were more than 50 million Chinese tourists traveling internationally. This number is expected to rise, and businesses that can capitalize on this market stand to do very well in the years ahead.
Prognosticating future trends is a difficult thing to do; so many interrelated factors must conspire together, and that can make capitalizing on trends more of an art than a science. Trends that do seem to be on solid ground include a rise in tourism from China and Southeast Asia, the value of culture and history over an impersonal hotel stay and the value of respecting the environment. Businesses that focus on giving their traveling customers the things they want from these three areas will meet the next few years with a firm foundation lacking in those that do not. As the lessons of historic hotels that are implementing these changes make clear, it pays to remain true to a vision that includes respect for the environment and a well-rounded experience for guests that honors their culture even as it introduces them to its own.