Karsten Horne

This year I chose to forgo the glamour of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival and instead flew to the other side of the world to attend the world’s largest travel show – World Travel Mart. London in November, what was I thinking?

I wasn’t alone, over 50,000 industry executives from all over the world descended on the ExCel venue for the event.

For three days we mingled, networked and were herded between our choice of presentations.

Between breaks we would escape to the main floor where just about every country or region in the world had a stand.

From Kazan to Kazakhstan and Florida to Falkland Islands, everybody was attempting to showcase their point of difference.


Responsible tourism was the leading theme of the event, in fact day two coincided with World Responsible Tourism Day where they opened the event with a reminder that for all of us in travel our core business is to make the world a better place.

For me the standout panellist of the day was Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainable Development, TUI Group.

She presented a business case that showed how responsible travel can reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and increase transparency.

TUI is the world’s largest tourism business with a turnover of $28billion and 76,000 staff.

Their 1,800 travel agents alone dwarf any player in this market.


Their sustainability strategy ‘Better Holidays, Better World’ is built around three core pillars to help shape the future of sustainable tourism: http://www.tuigroup.com/en-en/sustainability/strategy

She emphasised that their target audience is not necessarily the educated sustainable tourist, in fact they make up a tiny percentage of TUI travellers.

However, she understood that it was not just TUI’s responsibility but every large travel group’s responsibility to educate the mass market, even if they are not taking a responsible holiday.

I see an opportunity in this region, if TUI can scale it then why not someone like Helloworld?

One thing that my 30+ years in the industry has taught me is that trends come and go very quickly and it’s hard to pick the one that will stick around.

An event like this invariably unearths more trends than you can poke a stick at, here are my top 10.


Top 10 Travel Trends


1. Travellers choosing a holiday destination based on the environment and sustainability. A recent UK survey revealed that 75% of Brits felt this was important and 59% felt it was the industry’s responsibility to make tourism responsible.

2. By 2018 mobile will be number one for travel bookings given internet usage on mobile is already nearing 75%.

3. Supersonic Travel is back with a start-up called Boom, already taking orders for environmentally friendly, quiet aircraft that could fly from Australia to UK in 8-9 hours with similar pricing to current business class levels. See http://boomsupersonic.com

4. Co-living spaces inhabited by Roamies, for a monthly fee you can live and work in a community that offers a nurturing and supportive environment. See https://www.roam.co Hotel groups will need to watch this space carefully and adapt if this ‘hotelification of housing’ continues.

5. Physital is the new buzz word for travel agents. We need to merge our physical and digital presence. In light of this I can see wholesalers providing agents with branded virtual reality headsets to assist us in selling their product.


6. Not far behind are Chatbots, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to interact via an app with potential customers in a human like way without any direct human involvement. Artificial intelligence would be a great way to automate back-office admin functions in order to free up time for customer focused activities.

7. Services providing clothes for frequent flyers will reduce the need for luggage. Companies like unPack give high end travellers access to high quality clothing which can showcase the brand to a new audience. See http://www.theunpack.com Several New York hotels are also getting involved by employing sneaker and bikini concierges. Airlines watch out, with no luggage you are potentially losing a valuable revenue stream.

8. Within 5 years Facebook will be 100% video content, on your next famil whip out your new iPhone 7 and start sharing your experience. Oh, and by then unless you are producing immersive video or 360-degree video you will be left behind.

9. Listen to your customers – SNCF has a concept called “Love Team” which is dedicated to listening to what customers want, gauging their feedback on its digital services and implementing new ideas, this is done through a chatbot on Facebook Messenger.

10. If you live in Europe you are likely to go on a micro adventure – a low risk short holiday tacked on to a business trip where you may even learn a new craft – think kayaking, mountain biking or even as simple as a picnic on top of a hill. Anything that is fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.

11. With all this technology headed our way, by all means embrace it but keep in mind that the one thing that has ensured the survival of our industry is that we know how to use humans as a competitive advantage.

12. On a final note, Travel Responsibly or leave the planet!


This year Karsten Horne chose to forgo the glamour of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival and instead flew to the other side of the world to attend the world’s largest travel show

What do you think of the trends? Share your thoughts below.