A report launched shows that since 2002, demand for “one size fits all” breaks has dropped by almost ten per cent as specialist interest holidays booked online have boomed. Instead of accepting what travel agents tell them is available, cash rich and time poor holidaymakers who feel they deserve to indulge themselves have a list of demands and are using the internet and specialist travel companies to satisfy them.
It’s meant that activities and hobbies are increasingly being combined with holidays and that specialist activities as wide ranging as salsa dancing, sushi cooking classes and skydiving are increasingly replacing the standard sun, sea and sand.
The report from Travelzest, an online travel group which owns specialist holiday companies, in association with the Centre for Future Studies reveals that from 2002 to 2006 holiday packages fell by 8.9% and that this drop is set to continue.
Chris Mottershead, chief executive of Travelzest said: “We’re moving away from a mass market culture to one of unlimited choice. Through the internet, reaching small and specialist markets is now economical, an example being that about a quarter of Amazon’s book sales come from titles outside their top 100,000 sellers. It’s a similar story in the travel industry, with the biggest growth sectors being in specialist breaks such as activity, health & spa, nature and wildlife trips and escorted tours such as opera, cycling trips, dance, cooking or wine-tasting.”
Dr Frank Shaw, Foresight Director for the Centre of Future Studies, who helped to compile the report, said: “People are spending more money than ever before on life-enriching experiences, such as luxury “small indulgencies” and travel trends reflect this. We are seeing much more sophisticated and confident travellers who care about the world around them and want authentic travel experiences. Both men and women are putting a high emphasis on “me time” and are looking to blend hobbies with their holidaymaking. That might mean arranging a trip to Verona and booking tickets to an opera at the same time. Travel companies need to be much more focused on individualism.”
The changing social landscape is impacting on travel trends. The fit and active baby boomer generation who have time and money to spend to enrich their lives also present a big opportunity for travel companies. Also with fewer married couples and a rise in people choosing to live alone, the report highlights the opportunity to create tailored trips for successful, single women who have a high income, no family and see holidays as a fashion accessory.
The top 10 “niche” travel markets tipped to grow over the next five years are:
? Learn-a-skill-in the-sun (eg cooking, surfing, painting, salsa dancing)
? Inner self escapes (eg yoga, meditation, spa)
? Hobbies abroad (eg art, gardens, cycling)
? Festivals & Fiestas (dance, opera, food & wine)
? Wildlife & nature tours
? Sports tourism (following teams and playing sport)
? The home-from-home hotel
? Soft and extreme adventure
? Nip/ Tuck tourism