Members of the travel industry gathered for the annual Kuoni Trends Report at the Mondrian Hotel, London this week (February 19) to talk trends, travel and the all-important top 10 of 2018/19 according to reviewed booking patterns and more than 300 personal travel experts.
With key speakers ready, the lighting dimmed and the rustle of popcorn respectfully muted, we were teased by videos of envy-inducing wild landscapes, bustling cities and the infectious enthusiasm of the Kuoni staff that live by the inspired motto 'our experience makes yours'.
The 'wow' factor: With 59% of holidaymakers still preferring real advice from trusted experts when booking a holiday and 79% of people admitting that they’re saturated with online data, forums, reviews and prices - it's important to give travel customers something special - something which stands out from the crowd.
The ''wow' experience is increasingly what customers are looking for. Some of Kuoni's top wow moments include a private dinner by a tumbling waterfall in the jungle with The Sarojin in Khao Lak, Thailand; a luxury Robinson Crusoe moment in the Maldives; a flight over volcanoes on La Reunion; and tango lessons in Buenos Aires.
Special occasions: Stand out days like landmark birthdays and anniversaries are always popular times to book a holiday but a new special day is attracting travel bookings - engagement travel is making the list for the first time. There is a growing trend of couples seeking to make their marriage proposal as memorable as the big day itself. The Indian Ocean archipelago tops the list of destinations for special trips where the average spend is now six thousand pounds per couple.
Honeymooners still take the top spot for special occasion travel though, followed closely by milestone birthdays and family gathering, and Maldives, Mexico and South Africa are the hot spots for newlyweds in 2018. Findings also show newly singles are embracing travel while the last holiday before a baby is proving a popular excuse to tick a bucket list trip off.
Cruising east: Demand for premium worldwide cruise trips has risen by 45%. Japan is a rising star in the best selling cruise destinations of 2018, with the promise of spring cherry blossom and stop-offs in ports including Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kobi and Mount Fuji, as well as a trip on the famous Bullet Train enticing cruisers. Alaska is the top seller and the Med, Caribbean and Mekong still make the top five.
Rising fast: Thailand is one of the star performers for 2018 overtaking Sri Lanka in third position. Kuoni predicts that South Africa will make the top 10 by the end of the year as it has been steadily increasing in popularity for the past three years with help from the favourable exchange rate and increased flight capacity with British Airways. Bookings to the USA for 2018 show a much more positive outlook despite talk of a "Trump Slump" with fly-drive itineraries with popular San Fran to LA on the up along with new interest in Route 66, New England and Colorado.
The tour operator has seen a huge rise in demand for Costa Rica with a growth of more than 300 per cent since 2015 thanks to the launch of direct BA flights. Kenya tourism has been buoyed by a number of prestigious awards in 2017 including Africa's leading national park as well as the world's best safari destination at the World Travel Awards and the Caribbean is back on track post-hurricane with its wedding destination appeal.
Italy has taken the top spot for European holidays this year with international visitors reaching almost 60 million in 2017, continuing a decade-long upward trend that is predicted to continue growing for the foreseeable future. The areas around Sorrento and Lake Garda remain firm favourites. Cyprus has knocked Croatia out of the top five which also includes Greece, Spain, and Portugal.
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