The Future of Travel (And It Involves Glasgow)…

23rd October 2013
Pól Ó Conghaile

The end of the year is approaching, and the crystal balls are coming out.

So what does the future hold? Well, cruise lines judged by their cuisine, the onward march of mobile and hot destinations that include Portland, Xi’an and … erm, Glasgow… according to some of the biggest brands in travel.

Expedia and Egencia recently unveiled their Future of Travel report, a global study into travel habits across the generations. 8,535 adults on five continents were quizzed as to their travel preferences and expectations.

The results are unsurprising.

“We see the traveller of tomorrow operating in an ever-more fluid space, a world of blurred boundaries. They expect to move seamlessly from device-to-device; from online to offline and back again; from business to leisure and vice versa. Mobile is their personal assistant… Wi-Fi is more important than extra legroom or upgrades.”

To me, that sounds more like the present than the future. But it’s interesting to see a great deal of the report focussing on ‘Millennials’ (travellers born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s). As 20 and 30-somethings become more influential at work and in their personal lives, their behaviour is expected to start driving more and more changes in travel.

Some of the findings:

  • 69% of Irish Millennial respondents save data (such as passport details, credit card information and contact details) online to streamline the travel booking process, compared to only 51% of non-Millennials.
  • The majority of Irish business travelers (68%) now use smartphones, tablets, or both when travelling.

Already we’re seeing the importance of mobile impacting on travel booking. For players like Expedia, the growth in mobile has fed back into new responsive design approach, the company says.

Meanwhile, Condé Nast Traveler has been making predictions for the future based on its Readers’ Choice Awards. It lists the coastline of mainland South East Asia as a hotspot, predicts that quality cuisine will become more and more critical to cruise ships, and tips some surprising cities for the years ahead:

“Ann Arbor, Asheville, Hilo, and Portland, Oregon, in the United States, will continue to rise in the ranks, mirroring the upswing in their food, shopping, and restaurant scores. Overseas, the Readers’ Choice team will be watching Xi’an, Siem Reap, and Glasgow.”

Glasgow is also cited by Lonely Planet as one of its reasons for including Scotland in its Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2014. The city is looking forward to hosting the Commonwealth Games next year, with investment including improved transport links and a regenerated harbour.