Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

Travelport recently released its Online Travel Trends 2020 report, and it holds some important takeaways not just for OTAs but for the industry at large -- including home-based travel advisors.

As the report points out, "These trends are not just for global players -- they are concrete ideas for small and medium-sized businesses to contend in an increasingly competitive market."

The report takes a look at a number of technologies and trends that will impact the industry in the coming year. I'd like to highlight one: The rise of the environmental traveler.

This one isn't a surprise. The conversation around travel's impact on the planet has been ongoing, especially in recent months as Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, an environmental activist, has really gotten people talking.

It's an important thing for the travel industry, and travel advisors, to be sensitive to. Travelport found that younger people, especially, are changing their travel behaviors: 53% of millennials are choosing ecofriendly options, compared with 20% of those age 55-plus, Travelport found. But even 20% of older travelers, the bread and butter of many agencies, is enough to stand up and take notice. And Travelport found that 42% of consumers overall are making travel decisions based on environmental considerations.

That means that travel advisors should be able to provide ecofriendly options to their clients. Be prepared to have a conversation about it and research options appealing to environmentally friendly travelers -- it's becoming increasingly likely you'll have some as clients.

"The key challenge for travel brands will be to facilitate those ecofriendly, meaningful travel experiences that future generations will continue to demand," Travelport said.

Fortunately for travel advisors, many of the industry's largest agency networks have created resources and are working to combat some of the impacts travel has, environmentally and otherwise.

For instance, Virtuoso has long championed sustainable travel and has an entire team dedicated to the subject. Travel Leaders Group earlier this year introduced an initiative to study and address overtourism. Ensemble Travel Group partnered this fall with the nonprofit Cool Effect to offset the carbon footprint of its conference as well as give advisors access to a Travel Offset Tool they can offer to clients. These are just a few of the initiatives the industry is involved in.

This year, make it your resolution to prepare yourself to talk about travel and its environmental effects with clients. Chances are, they'll be asking.


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