The best human travel planners are a bit like old friends: They just “get” you. A big part of their jobs—aside from building the local connections that lead to the best travel experiences—is to be able to quickly understand what travelers want and find creative ways to provide it. That’s why we think this list of trends is interesting. What follows are the observations of some of our Trusted Travel Experts—longtime vets of the travel-planning world who book hundreds, if not thousands, of trips each year. This is what they’re seeing travelers ask for most…as well as their predictions for the experiences travelers will be asking for in the coming year.
What other services or types of trips would you like to see travel planners provide in 2016? Tell us in the comments below.
A Blend of the High and the Low
“When it comes to culinary experiences, travelers want to mix haute cuisine with street food. The same goes for culture—they’re mixing high-brow culture with real interaction with locals. The trend is echoed with glamping: Travelers want real remote nature and adventure combined with luxury.” —Zach Rabinor, Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico
“People don’t want to die with a lot of cash. They would rather spend it on helicopters over the Cliffs of Moher, or a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a master Scotch whiskey distiller at their favorite distillery, or paying what it takes to beat the crowds.” —Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland
“I’m seeing many more solo travelers! Thankfully, Ireland is perfect for this. You never have to feel alone.” —Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland
Travel Influenced by Pop Culture
“We see people chasing scenes from movies and books. In the U.K. and Ireland alone, you can see sites related to Outlander, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, MacBeth, Sherlock Holmes, Doc Martin, Dr. Who, and James Bond.” —Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland
Travel Influenced by Food Photography
“Also, we’re getting a lot of requests for photo tours, so we’re doing a new tour where travelers learn how to take photos of food. We all love taking photos of food when eating new things! Travelers also want to go home with new recipes so they can cook what they have eaten in the destination.” —Virginia Irurita, Trusted Travel Expert for Spain
Millennials and Mobile
“Our demographics have shifted wildly towards millennials, who are booking our tours for the intellectually curious at a higher rate than any other demographic. They are also repeating more and staying longer. So, in other words, they’re a more engaged demographic than Gen X or Boomers. We’re also seeing a decided shift toward mobile bookings and last-minute bookings.”—Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Experiences
Increased Interest in Turkish Art
“There is an increased interest in exploring the contemporary art scene in Istanbul. [My company] has arranged exclusive tours of art galleries with local art experts and the opportunity to meet gallery owners and interact with learning experiences and the history of the artists.” —Karen Fedorko Sefer, Trusted Travel Expert for Turkey
The Rise of Colombia as a Family Getaway
“More and more families are coming to Colombia: Many Americans, particularly from the Eastern corridor, are opting for quick escapes to Cartagena, due to direct flights from NYC , Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. We see a trend of families visiting the coffee country, which is not really on many Colombia itineraries but offers a plethora of outdoor and cultural activities that have wowed our family travelers. The town and region of Barichara in the province of Santander has one of the most charming, well preserved colonial villages in all Colombia. Coupled with this region being an active adventure capital of Colombia, it will surely be more and more visited in 2016. [My company] rents ranches and country homes in this region for families.” —Eric Sheets, Trusted Travel Expert for Colombia