In a more connected world, we want and need to travel more. Whilst the world has shrunk through communications, that also drives the lust for more distant adventure, and the interconnectedness of business.
From Asia to Asia
The most significant growth in air travel will be in Asia. The past dominance of North American and transatlantic routes has been replaced by the rapid growth of intra-Asian, African-Asian, and North-South American traffic flows. Beijing and Mumbai will replace Atlanta and Chicago as the world’s busiest airports. Seoul to Jeju is already the world’s busiest route, followed by Sao Paulo to Rio de Janiero, and Beijing to Shanghai.
Whilst most millennials will expect to travel the world, and live in at least three different countries during their lives, there is huge wanderlust too in the over 60s market. Vacations become more frequent, with shorter trips to more exotic destinations, whilst dispersed populations make more flights home to visit family and friends.
The growth in the business travel market will be even more significant, with its much higher margins. Companies in the west and north seek the growth markets and the east and south, exporting or entering the markets, competing or collaborating. Whilst tele-conferencing becomes an everyday norm, rising early for eastern partners, staying late for westerners, there is still no substitute for meeting people, understanding culture, and building human relationships.
Making it real and easy
As travel democratises, we spend more time on-board or in-room, driving airlines and hotels to adapt their formats, business models and service styles to the needs of the modern traveller.
For airlines, the on-ground experience will matter as much as the in-flight experience, particularly as airline like Emirates build new global hub and spoke networks. Travellers want to be in control, with personal itineraries that can easily flexed, and realtime alerts rather than relying on boarding announcements. Luggage companies like Tumi for example seek to make the fast-track security channels even faster with fast-pass bags.
On-board the experience will be more like home entertainment fused with a great coffee shop. Several hours immersed in your own world is a rare opportunity, and so calls for the best music or movies, or previous time to work or learn. In a world where attention is rare, it is also the ultimate brand showcase, to sample new gadgets, to browse a digital mall, to experience a brand more deeply.
For hotels, few people aspire to the staid opulence of Ritz Carlton, or the oppressive sameness of a Marriott anywhere in the world. More casual and comfortable, healthy dining and free wifi, modern art and a good movie, or even more sociable areas rather than unnecessary atriums. When it comes to service, relax and smile, and stop calling me sir. Relevant benefits are far more important than yet another plastic loyalty card to carry around, and throw away your brochure, I only trust Tripadvisor.
- State of Travel 2016 report by Skift
- Future Traveller Tribes 2020 report by Henley Centre
- The Future of Travel 2024: Booking report by Skyscanner
- The Future of Travel 2024: Airport report by Skyscanner
- The Future of Travel 2024: Destinations report by Skyscanner
More dramatic innovations will transform travel over time – from the customisation of experiences around the traveller, to business models with new revenue streams from subscription to sponsorship – from the biological sequencing of body clocks and time zones, to the hypersonic, intercontinental space hops promised by Virgin Galactic.
Meet the Gamechangers in Futuretravel
Aeromobil – The incredible flying cars from Bratislava
The flying car has long captured the imagination of the futurist. For Stefan Klein it was his life's passion. When he retired from designing cars, the inventor set his mind to adding wings.
Airbnb – Now you can belong anywhere
Airbnb is a great example of collaborative consumption, making more of under-utilised assets, whilst also enjoying the social experience of sharing. All built around a sustaining community.
BeMyGuest – Taking Asian travellers off the beaten path
BeMyGuest is your gateway to Asia, in one sense an online marketplace of small travel companies from across the continent, but more importantly a traveller's guide to the most unusual, interesting and spectacular places in a largely undiscovered continent.
Boom Supersonic – Supersonic is back with a boom
Supersonic flight has existed for over 50 years. Yet the Concorde of the 70s and 80s seems a distant memory, and everyone returned to jumbos and dreamliners. Until now. A breakthrough aerodynamic design, state-of-the-art engine technology, and advanced composite materials enable an ultra-fast airliner as efficient and affordable as business class in today's subsonic wide-body airliners.
Ctrip – China's travel market is ready for take off
China's largest travel site, Ctrip, lets users book hotels, flights, and packaged tours around the world. In 2016, an estimated 250 million travelers used the site, making it the world’s second-largest online travel agent. (In 2015, the company booked nearly $50 billion in travel.) Ctrip now owns one of the world's biggest flight metasearch engines following its $1.74 billion purchase of the Edinburgh-based Skyscanner in 2016. And with its recent acquisition of several tour companies in the United States, Ctrip is forming itself into an online travel service that’s part aggregator, part booking platform, and part end-to-end tour operator. In November 2016, Jane Jie Sun became Ctrip’s CEO and director of the board.
Momondo – Content inspiration for your next travel adventure
Momondo was founded in Denmark in 2006 and is headquartered in Copenhagen. As of 2016, the company has more than 200 employees from more than 30 nationalities. When Momondo was first launched in September 2006, it was a flight search engine only. It's inspirational travel blog was launched in 2007. In the same year, the company launched a series of city guides called Momondo places. Momondo is perhaps most famous for its DNA Journey advertising epic that made people rethink about their connectedness in today's world.
nuTonomy – The world's first self-driving taxis
nuTonomy is a leading developer of state-of-the-art software for self-driving vehicles, developed by two MIT researchers, and first launched in Singapore in 2016.
Ofo – China's global bike-sharing platform
Ofo, China’s largest bike-sharing company, now more than 10 million xiao huang che, or “little yellow bikes” around the world with users in 170 cities making 25 million trips a day.
Surf Air – The "Netflix of the skies" takes off in Europe
There’s a smarter, better way to fly in Europe. Since 2013 Surf Air has delivered all-you-can-fly subscription air travel between key cities in California, and now its taking off in Europe, with the same revolutionary unlimited travel business model.
Uber – Creating disruption on the streets of the world's big cities
Uber is changing the way the world moves, connecting riders to drivers through its technology platform. The potential to "uberfy" almost any type of business is obvious.
Virgin Galactic – Astronauts all, but the goal is long-haul
The space race is on, to provide regular affordable flights for business, research and tourism. And whilst the development has not been without problems, Virgin’s vision, determination and spacecraft design, promises to go where others haven't, or at least from London to Sydney in one hour.
Zipcar – Why own a car when you can hire a cooler one?
Collaborative consumption drives the better use of assets, and often a better deal for customers. Better products at a fraction of the price. The subscription model builds community and loyalty.