What 2018 Tourism Marketing Has in Store


The travel industry is considered one of the strongest in the global economy and will continue to be so in 2018.  The travel companies that can leverage 2018 tourism marketing trends will push themselves ahead of the competition. These travel trends include:

Travelers are Demanding Experiences and The More Local the Better

Traveling like a local is nothing new – but packaging it at scale and delivering is. Airbnb’s 2016 launch of local guided experiences allows interested travelers to participate in specially crafted activities designed by locals.

This influx of local experience travel and hospitality marketing is disrupting the industry. Just as accommodations through Airbnb used to be a fringe idea, travelers demanding local experiences will continue to grow.

Mobile Bookings Will Only Continue to Increase

Who remembers when you had to call the hotel or airlines to make a reservation? Then came the ability to do it online and now we can do with the phone sitting in our pocket. According to research conducted by TrekkSoft, “82% of bookings were made through a tour or activity operator's own website, and of those bookings, almost half (49%) are made on mobile. While the completion rate of mobile bookings is lower than that of other industries, this behavior on mobile has grown significantly compared to 2016, which was at 31%.”

These stats represent both enormous opportunity and concern. The opportunity is in knowing where and how travelers want to interact and book with your brand. The concern is in how few can successfully do it - in comparison to other industries. This means the tourism and hospitality marketers who can make their mobile presence eloquent and fluent – will be those that can pull out in front of the competition.

Overtourism Backlash & Safety

Sustainability is no longer only a sign of how environmentally friendly and green a destination or business is. It is now about how sustainable tourism is to the character, culture and identity of a location.

Barcelona and Venice were at the forefront of this in 2017 as locals took to the streets to protest the impact of overtourism on their cities. These protests were the catalyst of conversations around Europe about the current lack of sustainability practices and control over the impact of tourists in their areas. This problem is becoming so prevalent that articles are being written about where not to visit because of it.

Couple this with terrorist attacks in areas frequented by tourists and it all adds up to as MMGY states, “Perceptions of safety are clearly impacting global tourism, but trips are being changed - not canceled.”

For tourism marketing this means previously unexplored destinations will become more popular. And the first companies to make inroads into these destinations - could see game changing results.

More Travel Programs Specifically for Solo Travelers

Gone are the days where travelers felt they needed a friend, a spouse or a travel companion to see the world! According to the ABTA Consumer Survey 2015: Holiday Habits Report, nearly one in six people or 15% of travelers – are solo travelers. The travel industry is starting to catch on that accommodating this solo traveler is not only a requisite to continued success but also lucrative.


Single travelers have different needs than those traveling with a companion or in groups. The travel companies and operators who can respond to and communicate effectively with this audience will win.

Targeting Growing Female Travel Segment

Women are making headlines all over the world and now they are traveling all over the globe too. REI Adventures reports that the number of women traveling has grown by 60% since 2010. REI also reports that that this number not only continues to grow every year, but that in the prior year 58 percent of their guests were women. It is important to note REI is not alone. VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations reports 60 percent of their customers are women, 67 percent of Country Walkers’ travelers are women. Similarly, Intreprid Travel and DuVine Cycling + Adventure Company has seen a 35 percent increase in women participating in their tours. 

The data shows this trend is here to stay and the travel companies that best market to women travelers – will win.

Payment Plans

Two new players on the market, Affirm and Uplift, are aiming to help people who want to travel but don’t have all the money to pay for it upfront. Likely targeting travel eager millennials, this market shift will be a way for cash strapped travelers to get out in the world. It might also be a way for tourism marketers to tap into a previously unavailable audience.

Suggestive Selling: Helping Consumers Determine Destination

The travel industry and most travel books, magazines and resources are largely based on one, often incorrect, assumption – that travelers know where they want to go. Of course, there is the consumer with their bucket list of travel destinations and their favorite go-to spots. But what about the traveler who has $3000 to spend, doesn’t want to fly more than four hours, wants to relax for a long weekend and is looking for suggestions? Similarly, what about the traveler who is planning their big yearly trip, wants to go somewhere in the world they have never been for 10 days, has $4000 to spend and wants both culture, a small town and hiking? How does the travel industry support her?

In 2018 and beyond, travel experiences will continue to become more localized and personalized. The process of helping travelers decide where to go based on criteria other than what is traditional – location and dates – will continue to grow. Those who can match the current traveler interest with past travel experiences and their reviews – might just revolutionize the entire industry.

Need help with accomplishing your 2018 travel, tourism and hospitality marketing goals? Get in touch with us at Touristy, your travel marketing agency.

Meredith Cook