More frequent trips to more faraway places is a trend that was highlighted during a presentation by industry experts of the Travel Leaders Group held on January 22 at the company’s headquarters in New York City.
According to the Travel Leaders Group 2020 Travel Trends Survey, about 37 percent will travel more in 2020 as compared to 2019, and 52 percent plan on spending more on travel this year.
Another positive finding is that the number of Americans with passports has hit a record high. In 1990, only 4 percent of Americans had one. Last year, that number reached more than 42 percent.
CEO J.D. O’Hara compared the vibrancy of the world of travel to 2008 when he served a key role in the company’s formation. “In 2008, industry experts said travel agents were dinosaurs, on their way to becoming extinct, and were going to be put out of business by the Internet and the do-it-yourselfers,” he explained. “But at Travel Leaders Group, we understood that our clients relied on their advisors and that we were not in the same business as online travel agencies. We knew that, as the complexity of the travel marketplace grew, this was a distribution channel that had tremendous potential for growth.”
And today, the more complex and expensive the trip, the more likely a travel advisor will be used. Plus, according to the research, travel agencies book 75 percent of all U.S. international travel.
One of the top leisure travel trends identified is “beating a different path” in less-visited destinations for immersion vacations, including Greenland, Borneo, and Oman. Another hot button, according to John Lovell, president, leisure travel, supplier relations and networks, Travel Leaders Group, is celebration travel. This type of “trophy” travel celebrates a milestone or special occasion in a big way.
Cruises are booming, adds Lovell. He reports that Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) projects 32 million passengers will take a cruise in 2020, up from 30 million last year. Solo travelers are a focus of cruise lines with studio cabins and single-friendly activities being added, and single supplements eliminated.
More than 66 percent of Gen X and 71 percent of Millennials have a more positive attitude about cruising versus in 2018. The survey reports that 100 new cruise ships are expected by 2027 that represents a combined spend of $9.8 billion. This year alone, eight new mega ships, 19 new river cruise ships, and 13 expedition ships are being introduced. This represents a 6.6 percent increase in capacity.
Greener cruises are trending as well. Ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) that is cleaner than those powered by heavy fuel oil (HFO) are growing in popularity as well. The survey states that 44 percent of new builds will use LNG for primary propulsion. All new builds will have advanced wastewater treatments in place.