Americans roll up for 21st-century mystery tours

Magical Mystery Tours are the craze sweeping the American travel industry, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2011 release today at World Travel Market.

The trend is being led by American Express which is tapping into a number of business critical trends in the US, reveals the report, produced in association with Euromonitor International.

American Express’ Nextpedition business combines technology, customer service, value, innovation, demographics and social media to create a personalized 21st-century travel experience.

Travellers take an online quiz at nextpedition.com. The responses are used to give the traveller one of 20 ‘travel signs’ such as Adrenalista, Hiplomat or Histocrat. Travellers are then invited to post their sign onto their Facebook wall, while allowing an American Express travel agent to contact them and discuss a possible trip.

The agent will work within the traveller’s budget to create an itinerary which the traveller will not find out until departure. American Express will send its client a smartphone device which will unveil the trip day by day.

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American Express US Retail Travel Network Vice President Ellen Bettridge said the concept would appeal to “the Millennial generation which has spent most of their lives online”.

The WTM Global Trends Report 2011 reveals the Millennials will see their gross income increase in the Americas over the short term. 20-24 years old will be earning more than $23,400 in 2015, with 30-34 year-olds taking home in excess of $28,000.

The trend has also emerged on the other side of the Atlantic with companies such as lastminute.com’s Top Secret Hotels, where four and five star hotels sell their rooms at a discounted rate by not revealing the brand until purchased.

Nextpedition’s mystery offer is an extension of the opaque model used by online travel agencies such as laterooms and Hotwire. Buying a hotel room at a discounted rate without knowing the name of the hotel is an established revenue stream for the OTAs. Hoteliers use the channel to sell rooms without compromising other pricing channels and without undermining the brand.

Reed Travel Exhibition Chairman World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery said: “The magical mystery tours craze it a fascinating trend which taps in to the sense of adventure going on holiday brings.

“It also demonstrates the trust holidaymakers have in the travel industry as experts and knowledgeable about the world and the different kind of holidays available. This trend has great potential in other global markets.”

Euromonitor International Head of Travel and Tourism Research Caroline Bremner said: “Against a backdrop of economic doom and gloom, mystery trips help put the fun back into travel and also allow travel operators to provide greater levels of customisation.”