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2018 Travel Marketing Trends

Hello 2018 – we look forward to the changes you will bring. Here at Louis Karno we love to predict the future – and sometimes we get it right! But we see some huge travel and marketing changes in 2018, and we wanted to share what we see in our crystal ball.

Sustainable Tourism

In world wracked by climate change, the emphasis on sustainable is more than a trend. Travel tends not to be good for our planet – all the carbon, waste and population it brings. So, smart travelers are thinking about how to leave a smaller footprint and do some good. Mass tourism may be here to stay, but wise tourists are starting to avoid destinations that have become, in a word, fake. They seek the authentic, look for ways to leave a smaller mark, and use less carbon. Look for more rail, the boom of small eco hotels, and tours that help rather than hurt the planet. Costa Rica got its brand this way – as has Iceland – look for others like the Azores to follow.

Rail travel

Our workdays are more and more hectic –and we all want to find a way to just slow down. Slow food was and is a success – so what about slow travel? Rail travel in the US has boomed despite low funding and aging rolling stock. Canada and Europe have sophisticated products that will grow, as more green and slow. Travelers look for ways to truly experience the places they go to. So look for more rail options – and luxury rail trips.

Traveling for art and culture

Travel is not cheap –and more and more people say there is no reason to shell out thousands to find an experience that they can have down the road. Art defines a place – museums, architecture, and history all meet with great theatre, music and creativity to drive numbers. It is rare to find a world-class city without a world-class museum, performing arts center, and public sculpture. So many places still push shopping and outdoors – those items are key too, but an outlet mall or hiking trial rarely has the power of brand to build a distinct preference in a crowded market. Look for smarter preservation, investment in the arts, and promotion of culture among the hottest emerging destinations.

River Cruising

Smaller boats, more local interaction, greater luxury, and fewer run-away illnesses. Look for the savvy traveler to turn their eyes away from behemoth cruise ships, and fall in love with the growing market of river cruises.

Booking less hotels

Hotel prices keep going up and up. So why not rent an apartment? Cook for yourself, be in a more local environment, and save! Airbnb and others have definitely emerged as a great way to save money on vacation. Your accommodations are cheaper, and you can often cook for yourself. In a way, hotels are doing it to themselves by hiking rates.

Siri can you hear me?

Amazon’s Echo Dot was a huge hit this winter, and with a plethora of competitors – look for voice searches to be the new trend. Think about how a voice search could be different from written searches, and how your site is or is not ready to take advantage of this trend. The results are verbal, not written – and that has huge implications. In travel, optimizing for voice search is a must do, not a trend.

Food, food, food

If you think about it – food is culture. We travel for food; we define a destination by food. And food is an ambassador for a destination. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a great destination that does not have great cuisine. So, this trend has nowhere to go but up. So with the rise of food tourism, destinations that don’t offer a strong culinary offering are going to be in trouble. Look for more food tours, cooking tied to spa and place.

Consolidation among Low Costs

The year 2017 was a rough year for some of the low costs. Monarch shut down. In 15 year low cost carriers went from 9% to 40% of the market. We predict consolidation, with mergers and a few more shutdowns. Bottom line, there are too many carriers offering prices that are not sustainable.

Cycling for travel

American travelers are looking for more than shopping and sightseeing. And cycling may just fill the bill. Cycle travel has been growing for the past four years. Virtuoso says that #2 trend for 2017 is active and adventure travel. And this means infrastructure – good website, good services on the ground, safe roads and excellent logistics.

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