Photo by Nick Wong

Welcome to a new year. With the arrival of 2018 comes the reality that the hotel world is expected to post a solid year. Occupancies are up, RevPAR continues to grow and Canada is billed as a top destination.But tempering the news is the reality that uncertainty has now become a part of our lives; political policies, geopolitical tensions and financial concerns are at an all-time high. In fact, in 2017, the Global Policy Uncertainty Index, which began in 1997, hit an all-time, 20-year high.

According to Booking.com — an e-commerce site that connects travellers with a wide choice of accommodations — several key trends promise to impact the industry globally this year.

First off, the world of AI is fast approaching. Almost a third of travellers state they are comfortable letting a computer plan an upcoming trip based on data from their previous travel history; half (50 per cent) don’t mind if they deal with a real person or a computer as long as their questions are answered. More than six in 10 travellers (64 per cent) say they would like to ‘try before they buy’ with a virtual reality preview, while 50 per cent find that personalized suggestions for destinations and a to-do list encourages them to book trips.

The coming year promises to be a year to dream big. Forty-five per cent of travellers have a travel bucket list and the majority, 82 per cent, aim to tick off more than just one destination this year. The trend for wellness getaways continues to intensify with almost double the number of people planning to take health and wellbeing trips in 2018 compared to 2017 (up from one in 10 in 2017 to nearly one in five in 2018).

Other health-and-wellness-inspired activities high on the travel agenda in 2018 include visiting a spa or receiving beauty treatments (33 per cent), cycling (24 per cent), water-sport activities (22 per cent) and taking a full body detox holiday (17 per cent). Experiential travel continues to gain popularity, with 59 per cent of consumers saying they prioritize experiences over material items when on holiday.

Today’s travellers are becoming savvier, and more economically minded. Many consumers base travelling decisions on finance-related matters, a trend expected to continue. Finally, given the growth of Airbnb, in 2018, rental homes are gaining traction — not just for travellers looking to stay in one, but also home owners who are thinking of inviting others to stay in their own homes. One in three travellers (33 per cent) say they’d prefer to
stay in a holiday rental (a holiday home or apartment) over a hotel and one in five (21 per cent) would consider listing their home on a travel accommodation site.

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