Remember 2010? Well, the iPhone 4 was cutting-edge and the era of mobile check-in using smartphones or PDAs had just began; London was gearing up to host the Olympics; and Iceland was a movie location not a tourist destination. Who, then, could have predicted what would happen in the decade since? From technology and social media to climate change, there’s been no shortage of change in travel—over the past ten years.
Unlimited Paid Time Off
The Cayman Islands’ number one inbound traveler, the Americans - are notoriously bad at not taking their vacation days, but mindsets are beginning to change. So much so that several companies such as Dropbox, Netflix, and Virgin Management- to name a few - introduced unlimited vacation days in the 2010s as a policy. Data on how much paid time off employees really take when it’s no longer metered is limited, and subjective evidence suggests it may actually make them take less time, rather than more. But when taking off Friday or Monday doesn’t burn a precious vacation day; it allows people to change the way they travel—and increase their number of trips. Eighty percent of millennials say they would rather take several small breaks rather than one big one, while 53 percent of all travelers reported more planned weekends away. Those are pretty significant numbers considering 320 million international trips were expected to be made by millennials each year by, according to Forbes’ Millennial Traveler report.
Wellness tourism isn’t a new concept—but the last decade has seen a surge it. In the last two years alone, the global wellness sector has grown by 14 percent overall, and is expected to continue to expand. In 2017, travelers worldwide took 830 million wellness-focused trips, almost 140 million more than two years earlier. Unsurprisingly, the industry has been quick to respond with new offerings: from yoga; to intermittent fasting retreats and clean-eating menu options; to in-room mediation. Eco-minded hotel and resorts are recycling rainwater, using local ingredients in onsite restaurants and have exchanged paper note pads in rooms with chalkboards.
Two destinations, one trip? After the financial crisis of 2008, some destinations, in Europe especially- began aggressively marketing the concept to generate some much-needed cash into their economies. One destination even launched the hashtag, #Mystopover to help spread the word on Instagram. This travel model is still quite popular today. Visitors to the Cayman Islands have a unique opportunity to experience the Sister Islands as well as, Cuba and Jamaica during one trip!
Cruise shore excursions
According to Cruise Critic, the year 2010 was pivotal to the cruise industry. They recognized that passengers are as interested in the destinations as the ships themselves, so they began to change their message to say destination immersion is the most important aspect of a cruise, downplaying the cruise itself and playing up time in port. A decade later, many cruise lines are even offering pre- and post-cruise trips that take place entirely on land.
Sharing economy startups such as Airbnb and VRBO have boomed in the past decade. Home shares have unlocked new neighborhoods in destinations, allowing visitors to live amongst the locals rather than alongside tourists in hotels. They’ve turned ordinary people into “hosts”, and of course, the rise of Airbnb has also pushed hotels to innovate and adapt. It hasn’t all been straightforward though, spanning everything from concerns over redevelopment to safety. Many destinations have yet to decide how to tackle Airbnb's expansive presence, so expect a continuing tussle as we enter the next decade.
The rise of Instagram
On July 16, 2010, Instagram was born. Within two months it had 1 million registered users. A decade (and an acquisition by Facebook) later, it’s surpassed 1 billion. Instagram has reshaped many sectors—the rise in posting photos of our food has changed how dishes are plated, and selfie-ready backdrops in stores have usurped eye-catching window displays—but its impact on travel in particular has been outsize: by one estimate 70 percent of all Instagram content is travel-related. In other words, Instagram has become the 21st century equivalent of sending a postcard. If a destination doesn’t have an Instagram strategy, they are missing out!
Our social media feeds are flooded with footage of wildfires ravaging parts of Australia and California, and tourists wading through the waters in Venice, which suffered the worst sustained flooding in recent years. We’re seeing actionable change, too. Cruise lines and airlines continue to announce that they’re eliminating single-use plastics. Norwegian, for example, has pledged to nix water bottles on its ships by January 1, 2020, while United Airlines flew a trial flight dubbed ‘Flight for the Planet,’ where bagged snacks were replaced with plated nibbles, service ware was compostable, and the entire journey was powered by biofuel. Hotels in delicate ecosystems are also trying to minimize their impact—powering by biofuel produced from coconuts at their own facilities. Travelers are avidly pursuing chances to visit places they feel may be gone soon.
Brooke Meyer is the managing partner of Caymera International, a Caymanian-owned hospitality and tourism consulting and advisory firm. Visit Caymera at www.caymeragroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.