Online Booking, Voice Tech and Loyalty are Focus of Travel Trends Discussions at Annual Phocuswright Conference

It’s been fascinating to see how Airbnb has been able to build this brand affinity with its user base where people keep coming back and reusing again and again – and they don’t have an official loyalty program

Everyone wants to know what the hot trends will be for the coming year. Whether it’s fashion, travel, green living or anything else, it’s the industry experts we seek for answers. But where do the experts get their information? Well, if it’s the travel industry, you can probably find the experts at the annual Phocuswright Conference. Phocuswright is an independent authority in the travel industry that delivers qualitative and quantitative research on the evolving dynamics that influence the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

The annual conference, held earlier this month, gives industry members an opportunity to gather and share thoughts about the current state of the industry and trends for the coming year. It’s also where ExpertFlyer went One-on-One with Alice Jong, a research analyst with Phocuswright, who shared some of the most interesting and important topics and trends for 2018, and beyond.

One subject that had conference attendees buzzing was the trend toward booking destination tours and activities online, a process that has long been conducted offline and often in person. One might initially think that this drives a dagger straight through the heart of small businesses specializing in local tours, but according to Ms. Jong, new digital platforms are allowing local businesses to mainstream their services. “There are new technology platforms being created that cater to these smaller players enabling them to digitize their inventory,” explained Ms. Jong.

Looking back on a study PCW conducted in 2011, Jong noted that big online players were only lukewarm to the idea of including tours and activities. Now companies such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb are adding bookable activities to their offerings wherever possible. This data supports what Chris Lopinto, president and co-founder of ExpertFlyer, included in his list of trends for 2017 when he said, “You will begin to see an expansion of business models where companies, such as Airbnb, will be getting into the ‘travel business,’…

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