Dinners in total strangers’ homes? Selfie holidays? Pret-a-porter boarding passes? If you’re ready for take-off, then check out these travel trends that our airfare experts forecast will take off in 2015. Some of these predictions are anything but predictable!
1. Boutique hostels
Backpack holiday and boutique hotel are conflicting concepts. Until now. Behold, the posh-tel! That’s right, a posh hostel. Enjoy low nightly rates compared to a hotel, but without it, dare we say, being hostile. A dirt-cheap hostel conjures images of bedbugs and bunkbeds, a posh-tel is anything but.
The rooms may be very tiny or shared, but their swanky design and swishy amenities, like rooftop bars, could rival a boutique hotel. Posh hostels are perfect for young couples, as well as solo travellers seeking to avoid single-occupancy surcharges.
2. Dining with strangers
Branching from the Airbnb concept, locals extend invitations to fatigued and famished travellers for a home-cooked meal. Cheaper than restaurants, it gives eating local a whole new meaning! Airbnb’s Dinner Series was piloted in San Francisco earlier in the year and start-up projects are popping up that are also testing the waters of breaking bread with strangers. Hosts may also act as local guides to their dinner guests.
3. Ethical tourism
The travel industry, from cruise lines to resorts to airlines, has had environmental groups point and wag fingers at it. Passionate travellers wishing to trot around developing countries without leaving carbon footprints will be pleased to know there are options. If your ethical lens points to humanitarianism, you can opt for tours that help, rather than exploit, the people. California-based Ethical Traveler released its top ten ethical destinations for 2015, based on factors like sustainability, citizen welfare and the environment. Selections include Cape Verde, Chile, Dominica, Lithuania, Uruguay and Mauritius.
4. Wearable boarding passes
Samsung introduced its Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Neo smartwatches in 2014, followed by a collaboration with Spanish airline Iberia. The partnership resulted in a wearable boarding pass, thanks to a new app. Similar to downloading your boarding pass to your mobile phone, the smartwatch gets scanned at airport checkpoints. With the much-anticipated Apple watch will be released next year, which is well beyond a timepiece, we are sure to see more of wrist-wielded boarding passes in 2015. Apple is already a part of some airlines day-to-day- activities. (link) and Google Glass became part of Virgin Atlantic’s vision.
5. Selfie vacations
With the rise of social sites like Instagram, came the craze of the selfie. Often captured on holiday, the selfie of course is a photographic self-portait and many travel companies are capitalizing on the phenomenon. Promoting “selfie holidays”, tour operators and hotels, in exchange for a hashtag or mention, offer prizes and promotions to self-shooters. It’s a savvy marketing initiative, as it is basically free advertising. From selfie competitions to enticing travel perks, companies are getting creative in their quest for selfie requests. In fact, Sydney, Australia’s 1888 Hotel has gone as far as to have a selfie lounge for smartphone users to click away and add to their networking sites (it’s dubbed the “world’s first Instagram hotel”) but come 2015, it probably won’t be the last. These holidays are sure to be “snapped” up by young travellers, also opening many travel companies to a new demographic.
6. Smartphone room keys
As we just saw, smartphones will play a big role in shaping the travel experience in the near future. It’s hard to imagine the hotel concierge handing you a metal key to your hotel room, when we’re so used to the ubiquitous swipe card key. Soon the latter will seem like a fossil when hotel guests unlock their room door with a simple flash of their smartphone. Global chain Starwood Hotels is already using this technology at some of their hotels, which include Sheraton and Westin. Guests with smartphones download a Starwood app, allowing the hotel to send the room number and when it is ready. You can then bypass the concierge by turning on your Bluetooth and heading straight to your quarters. Expect to see more of this in 2015.
7. Wellness travel
Travel trends of recent years that have become mainstays include online airplane check-in, Wi-Fi in the sky and gourmet airline food. As as we embark on another trip around the sun as we ring in the new year, these top travel trends for 2015 could be part of your next trip.