What does the future of travel really look like?

What are the travel trends set to define the coming years? We found out from the founding editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveller UK.

At a recent World Travel and Tourism Council panel discussion hosted by Kildare Village entitled “How the travel industry thinks about tourism in a digital age”, we asked guest panellist Sarah Miller, founding editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveller UK and now CEO of creative brand agency Sarah Miller & Partners, to share insights on travel trends, tech and the power of touch.


Connectivity is key


As more and more travellers, almost 80% now, chose to travel without cash, or card, using their mobile device instead, connectivity is key – but digital is only a tool.

Travellers today want real, authentic experiences. Experiential is the key for the customer of the future with the area of independent travel growing also. This is as true for the “culturally curious” (45yrs+, post-family) group as it is for the “social energisers” (25+, pre-family).

"Almost 80% of travellers now chose to travel without cash."

Seamless, connected travel is important but human engagement trumps everything. Summed up in three key words, it might be “Me.Now. Bespoke”. It is the luxurification of human engagement where trust is established and emotional connections are made.


Fifty years ago many parents would have taken the majority of their holidays without their children save for a family holiday in their own country during the long summer school break. This is rarely the case today, where time as a family spent together is such a luxury. We are living in a world where we are more connected than ever before through technology, yet loneliness remains one of the biggest problems facing people today.

"Time away from home travelling now offers a vital chance to reconnect and enjoy new experiences and places together."


Families are becoming fragmented as most modern homes boast more screens per household than people so the traditional family down-time of crashing out together on the sofa to watch TV in the evening is lost as people split off into their own zone, on their own screen.

Time away from home travelling now offers a vital chance to reconnect and enjoy new experiences and places together.

High touch

Desire, experience and memory – these are the three touchstones of the modern traveller. Today’s travellers want to be able to use every mod-con available to research their trip extensively before they go – they will no doubt map the area, take virtual tours of hotel rooms, see what the local beach looks like at different times of day so that they can be better prepared and make better choices.

They want to make sure they don’t miss discovering the best local restaurants, shops and events so they will do extensive research before they travel, thus building this desire.

Once they arrive, this desire becomes experience – well-documented experience – and this in turn creates the memory. But the crucial goal in all of the above is human touch; everyone is looking for meaningful, authentic and real experience. This is, of course, defined by the people they meet and the connections they make while there.

Conscious travel


While a concept of completely “sustainable travel” is not straightforward, there is a compelling global shift towards more mindful, conscientious travel.

"To stay relevant hotels and accommodation providers will need to show best environmental practises."

Sustainability is of paramount importance to the Generation Z band, our travellers of the future. Everyone wants to make better choices in any way they can and in order to stay relevant hotels and accommodation providers will need to show best environmental practises, destination towns will need to offer facilities for electric vehicles, public transport systems will need to be up to speed and efficient.

Expect green flags and environmental awards become a crucial merit system and guide for tomorrow’s traveller.


Main image: Getty


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