Last Monday 5th November was the start of one of the most important international tourism fairs, the World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

Nearly 5,000 exhibitors came together for 3 days, under three premises, “connect, learn and do business“. More than 10,500 professionals from all over the world attended to learn about the latest novelties and trends in the sector. A panorama that opens up business opportunities, providing opportunity for B2B marketing and synergies of all kinds.

Photo by WTM London 2018

So it was to London that Boutique Hotels Spain duly travelled, hand in hand with our boutique hotel Casa A Pedreira in order to see the ins and outs of this year’s new tendencies. A fascinating addition this year was Travel Forward, a new event focused on new technologies.

The days proved to be intense but also stimulating and revitalizing with debates over key issues in the sector as well as a touch of constructive self-evaluation and criticism. Below you will find a summary of what we took away from the event.

  • A constant and growing demand for new experiences. The traveller is “thirsty for more” and is looking for new and different experiences. Unusual, strange destinations, moving away from conventional tourism (museums, cathedrals, etc…) to go in search of hidden destinations. Trends range from extreme adventure and risk to more introspective experiences, in which the consumer looks to find himself or herself.
Moon Base Experience. Photo by: Boutique Hotel Aire de Bardenas
  •  This idea of the new and different, is also applicable to the search for new places to stay that possess a special charm, such as natural shelters, traditional Japanese inns, yurts, cabins, igloos, etc.. The consumer is demanding more ‘Make it Mine, which is to say, they are willing to spend on fully customised products and services and make their trip a luxury experience. This is why the hotel sector is ever increasingly embracing personalisation… This new demand for different and personalised experiences is something which is driven by and goes hand in hand with new technologies.

  • Digital Dilemma: The Use of New Technologies and Social Networks Vs. the tendency and increasing awareness of the need to escape from them. Users live connected to their smartphones, but during their holiday prefer to temporarily switch off form them. In relation to these previously mentioned points the sector sees itself as a key player in improving user experience and offering an ad hoc choice. It sees the use of new technologies as necessary to reach its audience and offer interesting information as well as facilitating any process of purchase or consumption of a service/product. The appearance of new Apps designed for the enjoyment of leisure and cultural activities, to guide and geolocate the traveller…. the increase in gamification is also very noticeable in terms of the use of augmented reality, for example to explore cities and destinations. In the end it’s all about making travel easy and convenient and using technology in the right way. The extent of use, or not, of these apps is really down to individual choice.

  •  We have also been able to see that Instagram is playing a very important and decisive role when it comes to choosing a destination, as the user sees the experiences that others share first hand in this community. For this reason there is an emotional benefit to social networks. This fact emphasizes that, this network has become a potential marketing tool, as the content can be instantly published (streaming) and feedback and investment can be measured on a massive scale in a very affordable manner.
  •  Finally, a topic that is in the spotlight, Responsible Tourism. It can be interpreted in several ways from the “turistification” approach, the environmental impact of the development of tourism or the responsibility of companies in the area of health and safety of the guest. It is vital to find the right balance between the needs of visitors, companies and local communities.
Photo by: WTM London 2018

We hope that our visit to the fair has given you a clear idea of what is new in the sector. We learned a lot in these few days, and now we have to take on board and apply what we have learned… See you on your travels!