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Travel Trends of 2018

With a new year we will see ever more emergent technologies, trends, and preferences amongst travellers. With decreasing airfare, more accessible flights and a soaring interest in adventure and discovery, 2018 is sure to be a big year for travel

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Indians are becoming more adventurous in their travel habits. Along with choosing less traditional holiday destinations, Indian holidaymakers are becoming more and more open to new experiences in general, from the activities they choose to the ways they plan and book their travel. While 2017 was filled with epic experiences and Instagram-worthy destinations, the trend shows no sign of abating in 2018.

Culinary Travel

It is no surprise that while travelling, many holidaymakers would want to try out the local cuisine. However, many are now using food as a criteria on which to choose their holiday destination. Food-inspired tourism is rising as the up-and-coming travel trend, as revealed in a recent KAYAK survey. 1 in 4 Indian travellers surveyed said they regard 'enjoying the local food' as the most important reason for them to travel, while 70% of Indian travellers would feel very frustrated if the food of a highly-rated restaurant fell far below their expectations.

The survey also shows that Indian travellers are very tied to their social media presence while travelling, posting approximately 10 social media updates to their feeds during or after a trip. Nor is the role of social media limited to posting while on holiday:  Travel and food bloggers are becoming ever-more influential presences in the world of travel, acting as trusted experts whose favoured destinations and travel tips are shared and copied by loyal fans and followers.

Local experiences through Holiday Homes

Tourists seeking more local and authentic experiences now have more options than ever before. Nowadays, holidaymakers wishing to connect more with locals can opt to stay in the neighbourhood. To help travellers find the best local accommodation options, many travel search engines are focusing on 'Holiday Homes' for the Indian market, giving holidaymakers an easy way to search for holiday rentals. Travellers can now search hundreds of other travel sites to find unique holiday homes including houseboats, villas and townhomes, and live like a local in a foreign city.

Indian travellers have become more experimentative, and many are now looking to visit unconventional places - whether that means riding through a tea plantation in Guwahati or rafting along the waters of the Ganga, or flying to such trending destinations such as Cairo and Prague - two rising hotspots, as revealed by a recent travel search data. Indian travellers are increasingly looking for immersive experiences set in a local environment.

Technology trends

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has disrupted every sector, and the travel industry is no exception. Research says that by 2018, 75% of developer teams will include some element of AI functionality in at least one application or service. In the travel industry, many of the biggest online players are exploring the possibility of introducing chatbots to aid in trip planning.  Chatbots, computerised customer service agents, can help travellers plan an entire trip, from making flight bookings to retrieving airport and traffic information, making them a perfect, always-available resource for on-the-go travellers. Travel aggregators are investing huge sums to create smart chatbots and AI travel assistants. Though these AI utilities are still fairly new, online players are not shying away from experimenting with them in the travel sector.

Solo Trips
Another trend on the rise is solo travel, with more and more Indian travellers willing to go on trips alone.  According to a recent report published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the state of Punjab ranks first when it comes to single women travellers, followed by Telangana. The rising number is especially striking for solo women travellers, who now account for up to 40% of solo overnight travel. In order to combat safety concerns, services now exist allowing solo travellers to register their trips to make sure they get back safely, as well as options specifically formulated for solo female travellers to help them connect with other like-minded women.

Sustainable Tourism
Another emerging trend in India is the sustainable tourism movement. With eco-awareness on the rise amongst Indian holidaymakers, more and more Indians are looking for ways to travel responsibly, in both an environmental as well as a humanitarian sense. This includes minimising carbon footprints as well as promoting the cultural heritage of local communities while providing them with social and economic benefits. Sustainable tourism is not a fad, but a transformation in the culture of travel that is becoming recognised around the world as a vital and timely development. To increase its influence, the United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

With a new year we will see ever more emergent technologies, trends, and preferences amongst travellers. With decreasing airfare, more accessible flights and a soaring interest in adventure and discovery, 2018 is sure to be a big year for travel.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Abhijit Mishra

The author is Regional Country Manager, India, Kayak

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