Key Learnings from World Travel Market 2019

World Travel Market, one of the travel industry’s largest annual events, took place from 4th – 6th November at London’s ExCel Arena. Members of the Flagship team were present on each day of the event, which meant that we were able to gain fantastic industry knowledge, network, and see what to look out for in 2020.
From listening to travel leaders speak on what to expect in 2020, to exploring the travel trends shaping the future of the sector, below is some insight from two of the best sessions we attended.
Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel – Euromonitor International
Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel at Euromonitor, presented the Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel report looking at global travel trends and what we can learn from other countries. Her key insights included:
Mobile first
Travel bookings using a mobile device are growing at over 10% per year, so travel brands need to ensure they implement a mobile first strategy. Many brands are already doing this, however customers will always want an improved experience, so ‘mobile first’ needs to be an ongoing part of all communications strategies.
The ‘Greta’ effect
Airlines and travel operators are seeing more and more customers pulling back from flying. KLM, one of the world’s leading airlines, even introduced a ‘Fly Responsibly’ campaign to encourage people to fly less. Although KLM is not suggesting that customers stop flying entirely, but instead simply asking them to be aware, this is a clear sign that airlines are starting to see the effects of their services on the environment.
Accessible and inclusive tourism
More operators are trying to ensure that tourism is accessible for all, and VisitEngland’s accessible tourism campaign further highlights this. A good example of inclusive tourism is the Be My Eyes app that was first launched in Denmark. The app connects blind and low-vision individuals to sighted volunteers and companies all over the world through a live video call, where users can request assistance in over 180 languages.
What we can learn from Asia
Asia is emerging as a major innovation hub, and the travel industry is at the forefront of this trend where many brands and sectors are digitally transforming. 65% of online sales are a conducted on a mobile device in Asia, which coincides with Euromonitor research showing that travel bookings using a mobile device are growing globally.  This suggests that we should be looking at trends and innovations across Asia to see what might be around the corner in the UK, Europe, and elsewhere.
For example, the OYO Hotels brand first began in India in 2013, and is known for heavily investing in AI, creating apps (for customers and staff), and gathering useful data that has allowed them to optimise and micro-target potential new customers. OYO now has more than 23,000 hotels in over 800 cities in 18 countries around the world, and is one of the fastest growing companies globally.
Social commerce
Now that consumers can buy direct from social media platforms such as Instagram, more customers will want quick and easy ways to book their trips and experiences too- a demand that is going to continuously change and develop the travel industry.  Retailers and tour operators will need to ensure that their platforms allow customers to have a seamless booking experience in order to retain and attract business.
The best part of travel – Arival
Douglas Quinby, Co-Founder and CEO of Arival spoke about the best part of travel: tours, activities, attractions and experiences. Key learnings included:
Tours, activities and experiences should not be overlooked
Travel entails so much more than simply flights and hotels- but, a lot of the time, those two areas are the given the most focus. Known as ‘the best part of travel’, the experiences and activities that consumers plan for their trips present the biggest opportunities for profitability. Whilst somewhat obvious, this is a statement that is often overlooked.
Attractions during a holiday or trip are generally decided closer to the trip taking place, or even on the day itself. For example, a family may decide to visit a specific theme park on the Thursday rather than the Monday of their week-long holiday, with the decision being made at the very last minute, as tickets can be bought on the day. Technology that enables the sale of last minute seats or tickets is key to making the experience seamless for customers, as they will want to be able to book at any time on their mobile devices.
With a whole host of other upcoming key travel trends, these are the focuses that Flagship Consulting will be considering in our travel campaigns for 2020. We are continuously keeping ahead of industry trends, and you can read our previous blog posts on other trends including the ABTA Holiday Habits report 2019 and the Reuters Digital News report.