Photo of Rosanna Caira
Photo by Nick Wong

By Rosanna Caira

Given that the world continues to spin out of control amidst rising geopolitical tension, disruptive technology and fear of economic recession, it’s interesting to note that travel patterns remain strong. According to Greg Klassen, senior director at New York-based Skift Advisory, who spoke at Destination Toronto’s recent Spring Briefing, this marks the first time that low consumer confidence hasn’t negatively impacted travel patterns.

Speaking on the topic Influencing Tomorrow’s Traveller, Klassen told attendees there are three phenomena at play to help us better understand travel patterns. “Travel is off-the-chart expensive, with higher rates for car rentals, restaurants, hotel rooms and flights,” adding that consumer confidence has fallen to its second-lowest recorded score in Canada but “consumers plan to spend more on travel despite those rising costs,” says Klassen. “We might not buy some things but we’re going to continue to travel.” That may be a response to COVID. “Travel is at a statistically high point. There’s an anomaly – a phenomenon, I would call it.”

Klassen referred to the second phenomena as the “tourism of Taylor Swift (and big events). We’ve never seen this happen before where there’s such mass appeal of a single individual or a single event that has created a tourism phenomenon with spending. There’s going to be benefit to the city of Toronto (and Vancouver). It’s not just Taylor Swift that can pull this,” he says, pointing to sporting events such as FIFA, adding the importance of imagining those future events and leveraging them to introduce new travellers to what our cities can offer.  

Finally, the third phenomenon, says Klassen, “is the tourism of Me,” explaining that in the post-COVID world, we’ve become hyper focused on ourselves. This is fuelled, he says, by algorithms and social feeds, which know more about us than we do. “We’re all getting personalized data and information making us believe it’s all about us.” 

Not surprisingly, these phenomena are fuelling a set of new trends. For example, consumers are becoming more hyper focused on their health and pampering themselves. When it comes to improved health and wellness, Klassen says it’s taken on a broader connotation, moving well beyond the spa component to incorporate sleep, performance and nutrition. 

On the travel side, it means “that luxury is back with a vengeance,” says Klassen, adding that luxury is expected to grow from a $628-billion market to $1.2 trillion by 2031. 

Klassen believes AI and digital innovations will continue to fuel changes to provide a more personalized view of luxury, including taking over the concierge function. He also told the audience “a loneliness epidemic is spurring growth in the solo-traveller market, with 62 per cent of consumers now travelling alone, the majority of this group being female travellers.”

Finally, he advised attendees not to forget about sustainability. “Eighty per cent of luxury travellers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable experiences, meaning, it’s no longer a fringe idea,” says Klassen. 


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