Five top travel trends in 2018 and how to benefit from them as a surf house owner

The travel industry is one of the largest industries in the world. The insights on the latest travel trends are, therefore, interesting for many businesses. That is why you’ll find many reports on individual statistics and trends around. Few, however, delve into the possible effects or returns from these trends on the daily business.

The trends in travel for 2018 do not seem to radically differ from the previous years. However, some of them give some new perspective on why and how travellers make their holiday decisions. The growing sustainability trend is a good example of that and is one of the five trends we’ll speak about.

In general, surf as an activity and lifestyle fits most of the trends in 2018’s list that we put together from different travel research, as well as our own. Here are the five most important travel trends for this year and how you can benefit from them as a surf house owner.

Travel like a local

This trend is sticking from last year and becomes even more evident in today’s travellers’ holiday decisions. Rather than following the masses, the travellers of 2018 are looking for even more ‘off the beaten track’ holiday experiences. It’s the reason for Airbnb to be so successful (or did they maybe set the trend?) and why their number of bookings are still increasing - in 2017 the percentage of all leisure travellers that use Airbnb grew from 18% to 23%.

To visit places where little other tourists are is a way to ‘get away from it all’ as well as a form of exploring, going on an adventure. It’s why most travellers want to use local transportation when they travel, why they want to try the local food, and stay in remote places or stay with local people. As travellers, we all want to understand the world and the people that live in it.

If you’re running a local surf house, it’s not hard to think of the benefits you can reap from this trend. But even if you’re not a local, there are ways to promote your business while giving your guests that local feel:

  • Tell something on your website about local customs, food, and activities to address these travellers
  • Target these travellers to come in low season when mass tourism is over (if possible)
  • Offer activities that show how the local people in your area live and what they do (we bet surfing is one of them)
  • Offer local food and meals at your surf house
  • Use your own website for your bookings, rather than OTA’s where the masses book

Experience-focused travel

Everything is about experience in 2018 and has been for quite a while. Shops, restaurants and even supermarkets say they are no longer selling products - they sell an experience. This is the same in travel and it is why today’s travellers no longer want to sit by the pool or beach all day on their holidays. Although this is still an important aspect for them (and for good reason), they are looking for more. They really want to experience something. Here’s where surfing comes in.

When you ask any surfer about their passion for surfing, what do they tell you? They’ll probably talk about how surfing makes them feel or how they experience being in such close contact with nature. Why do you surf yourself? It’s comparable to the way we look at travelling. It provides us with a certain feeling, it adds something to our lives. It’s because it’s an experience, rather than a product you buy. This is what you sell as well. This is how you can appeal to the experience-focused traveller;

  • Adjust your web copy to tell about the experience people get, rather than ‘the product’
  • Use beautiful imagery on your website and social media - pictures speak louder than words
  • Create themes for your room descriptions on your website
  • Sell experiences by offering packages of accommodation and (surf) activities

Active and health travel

Nobody could have missed the health trend that’s been active for quite some years now. Eating healthy, as well as physical and mental fitness, is more and more a priority for most people. This positive turn also changed the way people behave during their holidays. They are looking for ways to continue with their active and healthy lifestyle while they are on holiday, meaning they make different decisions.

Yoga and the rise of yoga retreats in mass tourism is a good example of how this general health trend found its way into travel too. Although the practice of yoga has been around for ages, it’s only in the last few years it’s gotten the mass market’s attention and people have started going on yoga holidays. The same happens in surfing and the growing attention for the sports (it has even become an Olympic sport ) helps boost its popularity among travellers too. How to take even more advantage of this:

  • Sell packages of accommodation and surf rental and/or surf lessons to attract this audience
  • Offer healthy food and meals at your venue
  • Combine surf and yoga in your activities to attract a larger group of people

Sustainable travel

A trend that is rather new in the travel industry is the sustainable travel trend. The emphasis of 2018 travellers will shift towards consciousness. This means people are more conscious towards the environment, both in terms of the local community (which has an overlap with the ‘travel like a local’ trend) and the ecological environment itself.

The above implicates a growing desire of travellers to act responsible. This is, as aforementioned, twofold. It will (1) result in more travellers who want to stay in locally-owned accommodation or homestays, who want to take guides from the local community, and who will buy their products from local producers; and (2) mean travellers are looking for eco friendly accommodation and other ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

How to tap into this trend as a surf house owner:

  • Emphasise what you do at your venue to reduce water and energy consumption, to improve recycling, and to reduce waste
  • Offer ecotourism itineraries
  • Source organic and local food, and communicate this on your menu
  • Support the local community yourself by referring guests to local restaurants

Solo travel

Solo travel is at its peak in 2018. With the growing number of single households, especially in developed countries, and the increased individualisation in different parts of the world, more people tend to travel on their own too. Not only that, there is also a growing desire to travel solo, mainly among millennials. The desire to go on an adventure and discover new destinations at their own pace, and to meet new people is what attracts these travellers to going solo.

Your surf house is the ideal place for solo travellers to meet like-minded people. So if you haven’t done so yet, make sure to target this group through your communication channels. Use your website, your social media and advertising to attract this niche. Most of the aforementioned tips are also effective for this target group:

  • Offer packages on your booking page to show solo travellers they can take activities with other people that stay at your surf house
  • Organise group dinners at your surf house for your guests to meet each other and communicate about this on your website

Other 2018 travel trends; Emerging destinations travel

In addition to the above mentioned five trends for 2018, we see another trend coming by. We call it the ‘emerging destinations’ travel trend. It’s a trend that shows travellers seek to visit destinations that are less known by the larger public but are getting more popular by the day. You see this happening in Europe, where countries like Georgia and Albania are expected to be the new hotspots in a few years from now. That is why some travellers want to go there now before the big crowds arrive. Other destinations outside Europe include for example Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Although this trend seems to be more like a threat, you could also take some advantage of it. This trend is very much related to some of the others we’ve seen because of the motivation behind it. Travellers are looking for more unique experiences during their holidays. Technology and innovation have made us adjust our way of thinking to reinvent ourselves and the world around us and to look for new ways to do things. This is how we can summarise the 2018 travel trends and what gives you an opportunity to create such an experience at your surf house this year to keep it fully booked.

This list of trends was compiled from different sources, amongst which are: ABTA, Intrepid Travel, Airbnb, Forbes, research from different travel blogs and our own.

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