Global megatrends are fundamentally changing the way we live, work and travel; they are shaping new imperatives for the travel and tourism sector

29 January, 2019

As global forces converge to create unprecedented change across all industries, the future of travel and tourism will be shaped by those companies and destinations which provide unique and meaningful experiences, harness the power of networks, provide a personal service to sustainability-minded consumers, and are led by trustworthy and responsible leadership, according to a new research.

The 'World, Transformed: Megatrends and their implications for Travel & Tourism' study, produced by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Bloomberg Media Group examines how powerful global demographic, political, economic and technological forces are impacting the travel and tourism landscape and identifies clear opportunities and risks for travel and tourism sector in the near future.

Travel & Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors, accounting for more than 10% of global GDP. According to the report, sustaining its growth and hitting industry forecasts, such as the eight billion air travellers predicted by 2037, will require continuous innovation and reinvention across the sector. Leaders will need to manage companies that are able to pivot quickly in response to new customer demands and expectations, the next revolution in data capabilities, and heightened business risks.

Gloria Guevara, president & CEO, WTTC, says "powerful, global forces are fundamentally changing the way we live, work and travel at a rate we have never witnessed before". The report shows how these converging forces - or megatrends - present immense opportunities for those who recognise them and adapt their strategies. "The challenge is for destinations and businesses to embrace the opportunities of this changing global landscape and the expectations of tomorrow's consumers," acknowledges Ms Guevara.

The report concludes that:

  • Consumers are increasingly moving beyond experiences as social currency to seeking shared experiences to deliver meaning, self-improvement and stronger connections;
  • Millennials and Generation Z have little loyalty to employers or brands and are more likely to rely on personal networks than experts;
  • Consumers value technology but are uncomfortable with over-automation, which seeks to replace customer interaction with intelligent bots;
  • Consumers want to be treated as individuals by companies that trust their privacy, share their values, and provide authenticity;
  • Travel and tourism companies will succeed by responding to the rise of ethical consumption trends and protecting the very destinations they promote.

The report identifies five areas where change will be most profound across Travel & Tourism.

  • Reality, Enhanced - "as people, communities and businesses become more sophisticated in adapting new technologies for analogue experiences, new ideas and beliefs are emerging about how best to live a connected life. Online and offline experiences as a result are becoming increasingly integrated".
  • Life, Restructured - "growth of tech-powered economies such as the 'gig economy' and 'sharing economy' continues to create new expectations for work, life and culture. As the structure of people's lives become more fluid and self-directed, travel will become more of a lifestyle, mobility will increasingly become communal and service-based, and businesses will need to rethink their workforce".
  • Data, Revolutionised - "power of data will drive a new frontier of innovation and deliver unprecedented ability to better understand and predict outcomes… These technologies offer tremendous opportunities for the travel and tourism sector, including leveraging data to build a fluid, cohesive travel experience, implementing large-scale Internet of Things, facial recognition and use of voice assistants to streamline travel".
  • Power, Redistributed - "significant shifts in power dynamics will have dramatic effects on both local culture and global markets as technology, globalisation and population growth continue to redistribute power".
  • Consumption, Reimagined - "the availability of resources and health of our planet are increasingly threatened, there is a need for responsibly balancing short and long-term priorities… Sustainable business practices and aligning brand stories to sustainable solutions can become the core of a robust growth strategy for the travel and tourism sector".