Expectations Rise for Vacations in 2018

Rebecca Ames

Rebecca Ames

Associate Strategist

Vacation Exepectations Rise in 2018

As we move into the new year, we’re noticing that consumer confidence is down across the board – and it’s no surprise really, given our current economic, political, and cultural climate. The shifting landscape is forcing consumers to watch their spending behaviors more closely and re-evaluate necessities, and although travel is still a priority, actions like delaying trips, tightening investments and reducing retirement contributions point towards an apprehensive consumer mindset (H2R Market Research).

While domestic travel isn’t slowing down, travelers are becoming more particular and critical of their needs. To stay relevant, travel brands will need to say goodbye to the days of blackout schedules and confusing customer experiences. There is an increasing need for vacations to deliver control, flexibility and a seamless experience, and very little patience for missteps.

Attractions Get a Booster Shot

While the popularity of attractions continues to rise (albeit at a slower rate than years past), visitors are leaving attractions less satisfied overall. This global drop in satisfaction could be due to the more critical nature taking hold in consumers in the wake of a tumultuous 2016 (H2R Market Research.)

Aggregate guest satisfaction decreased across the board from 2015 to 2016 (H2R Market Research)

The majority of attraction growth is coming from Millennials – a demographic cohort with adventure practically built into its DNA. This growth aligns with the increased need for engaging experiences (Kantar Futures 2017). After all, the overwhelming success of Pokemon Go seemed to come out of nowhere, but was in fact built on a strong foundation of these truths about young people, tech, and entertainment (Iconoculture). The real world is becoming experientially dull, and the next generation of consumers expects more from the brands they interact with.

Consumer_Values
Under 30s over-index on values oriented toward novelty and experience (Iconoculture)

Regardless of the many reasons why this trend has evolved, one thing is certain: visitors want more. Attractions like our client Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex are taking note and incorporating more inspiring, interactive experiences into their current offerings. In just a few short months, Kennedy’s new Astronaut Training Experience will virtually transport visitors to Mars so they can experience firsthand what life is like as an astronaut.

 Growing Need for Variety – in Experiences and in Marketing

In addition to the need for more engaging experiences, there is a growing need for variety in those experiences. Vacations used to serve as a break from the everyday – and that included getting some time away from the in-laws. But multi-generational travel has become a popular option for families looking to spend more quality time together. Most important to these unique groups is the incorporation of diverse experiences that will appeal to a wide range of interests and ages.

When it comes to planning these types of trips, the role of decision-maker is shifting. Grandparents are often willing to fund these trips “to help family members enjoy a vacation they otherwise could not afford” (PreferredHotels.com). Kids are also being afforded a much larger role in planning, with the vast majority of parents in the U.S. and Europe giving their children an active voice in determining where the family will go on vacation (HomeAway.com).

So – while attractions and leisure destinations must ensure they can deliver on variety, marketers must now figure out how to appeal not only to parents, but to the family unit as a whole, illustrating the breadth and depth of the experiences their clients can offer.

For more Peter Mayer Travel & Tourism Insights, click here.

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