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WTM highlights wearable tech, 'poshtels' and 'braggies' in annual trends report

By Tom Anstey    04 Nov 2014
The travel industry is expected to experience a number of consumer shifts in the year ahead / Shutterstock.com

The World Travel Market’s WTM Global Trends Report 2014 , carried out by Euromonitor International, has highlighted a raft of emerging trends in the global travel and tourism industry.

Since its launch in 2006, the report has been at the forefront of predicting major trends in the tourism and travel industries, with social media bragging, wearable technology and African surfing all featuring in the 2014 list.

Of the top identified trends, some of the most interesting included:

The rise of ‘Poshtels’ in the UK

Following the recent economic crisis, consumption patterns have shifted to a place where there has been a demand for low-cost, high-value travel along with non-conventional lodging establishments.

The UK’s hostels are looking towards the cost-conscious, attempting to entice the style-seeking consumer by glamourising communal living, rooms and atmosphere to compete with the country’s boutique hotels. As part of the push, many hostels are emphasising modern and luxurious design – something not traditionally thought of when thinking of a hostel – offering restaurants, twin en-suite rooms, free WiFi and breakfast, also coining the term “poshtel”.

The hostel sector is predicted to record three per cent growth between 2013 and 2018, to reach sales of £216m (US$345.7m, €276.2m) in 2018, with 653 hostels to be in operation by the end of that timeframe.

Travel technology going mainstream

Wearable technology is on the brink of hitting the mainstream and so is travel-related technology, according to the report.

In 2013, global online travel sales amounted to US$590bn (€471.2bn, £368.6bn), 27 per cent of total travel sales for the year. With mobile devices increasingly key in the travel industry, mobile bookings are expected to account for 35 per cent of all online travel bookings by 2018.

The report says that wearable electronics will become an important tool for travellers, who will be increasingly connected to the internet through various types of wearable internet-connected devices, which will also allow travellers to constantly receive notifications and services during their trip.

With wearable tech predicted to hit the mainstream by 2016 – from nine million units in 2013 to a forecasted 180 million in 2016 – products such as the Sony SmartWatch, Samsung Galaxy Gear, Apple Watch and Google Glass will be increasingly important in terms of travel and technology. The report also suggests that the rise of wearable tech and its integration into travel will be increasingly important and travel companies will need to be swift to embrace the technology.

Middle East records growth but violence hampers some areas

The number of trips taken to the Middle East rose by 4.4 per cent in 2013, with the trend predicted to continue through to 2015. This growth, however, is concentrated in small pockets of Gulf countries considered safe.

Violence across the Middle East is hampering tourism development, with Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt the worst affected, and neighbouring countries suffering a knock on effect in places such as Jordan and Lebanon.

Africa suffers from Ebola outbreak but surf tourism on the up

Africa has continued to experience solid economic expansion, resulting in rising middle classes which is benefiting business and leisure travel across the continent.

The spread of the Ebola virus has however had a negative effect on tourism in Africa, with recent suggestions being made that the continent should divide itself into regional blocs to boost its image.

Intra-regional tourism remains key for Africa, accounting for 50 per cent of international arrivals, though visitors arriving from India and China are taking on a greater importance.

Thanks to Africa’s 26,000km (16,155m) of coastline and a focus from the International Surfing Association (ISA), surf tourism is on the up, with the ISA making expansion of the sport on the continent a top priority, aiming to stimulate and develop local economies using surfing as a catalyst. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are expected to benefit the most from this, thanks to their ideally-suited coastlines.

”Braggies” becoming a new global trend

With social media users across the globe increasing by 18 per cent to 1.7 billion users worldwide, the trend for “braggie” photos is emerging as a key par of building online awareness for resorts and destinations.

The braggie trend is a recent behaviour trait whereby holidaymakers upload a photo of themselves on holiday within 10 minutes of arriving at their hotel. The new fast and efficient way of “bragging” to their social media contacts will be encouraged by hotels, offering incentives to promote their brand online – offering anything from discounts to a complimentary gift.

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