Top future trends revealed at WTM

Largest trade-only WTM event generates business upwards of $3.9 billion and arms the travel and tourism industry with global trends to watch out for next year
Mobile technology is transforming the industry.

THE World Travel Market (WTM) 2014, held from November 3 to 6 in London, UK, experienced a 4 per cent increase in attendees this year, opening its doors to almost 52,000 delegates over four days.

This increase in delegates makes it the largest trade-only World Travel Market (WTM) event and marks the fifth consecutive year of growth.

At the event, Euromonitor International revealed some interesting trends as part of its World Travel Market Global Trends Report in 2014.

The report noted that new technology continues to disrupt as travellers connect with brands across multiple devices including mobile phones and wearables.

It noted that instant messaging is set to overtake social media for customer service, bookings and payments; operators are responding to changing lifestyle shifts, with cycling the new golf; and emerging concepts such as ‘poshtels’ are challenging the status quo.


The Middle East is repositioning itself with design tourism. The success of design shows and exhibitions across the Middle East is generating domestic and international tourism demand, according to Euromonitor.

Events such as Design Days Dubai and Beirut Design Week are gaining in popularity, with the Dubai event attracted 12,150 visitors in 2014, 40 per cent of whom were regional and international tourists.

The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 says the trend “is sparking interest among young artists, curious minds and world travellers who are keen on visiting design events despite the political situation”.

It continues: “These two events are equally important in terms of communicating their destinations under a very different light, away from the bling of Dubai and political instability of Beirut.”

Overall, the Middle East is experiencing strong tourism growth, although “growth is concentrated mostly in the Gulf countries which are safe, oil-rich and a magnet for job seekers from across the globe”.

According to Euromonitor International, the number of trips taken to the Middle East rose by 4.4 per cent in 2013 and the trend is set to continue in 2014 registering 6.3 per cent growth, while in 2015 it will reach 7.0 per cent. Incoming tourist receipts are forecast to grow by 10 per cent in 2015.


Take a bike: The rising popularity of cycling is posing a threat to golf tourism in North America as middle-aged men swap their clubs for bikes.

The rise of ‘Poshtels’: Design-led hostels across the UK, or ‘poshtels’, are gaining popularity with the stylish and cost-conscious Brits, representing a viable accommodation option for different traveller segments.

Foodie AirBnB arrives: Riding the success of the peer-to-peer trend, new European start-ups are offering visitors in-home meals, cooking lessons and guided tours around foodie hotspots.

Africa, surfer haven? African countries are gaining a foothold in surfing, benefiting intra-regional and domestic travel.

China talks business: WeChat, the second largest global messaging service after WhatsApp, has emerged as a viable sales channel for Chinese travel companies with customer service, bookings and payments.

India rides digital train: Online and mobile bookings for India’s rail network represent a strong driver for travel and tourism, recognised by the new government as a vital component for the country’s overall growth.

‘Braggies’, the new selfies: Hotel chains are further developing their social media marketing strategies with reward schemes set up to encourage ‘braggies’, where guests take photos in the hotel and upload the images to social media.

Next stop, wearable technology: Wearable electronic technology will be mainstream by 2016, with travel brands embracing this trend as part of their customer service and distribution mix.