After nearly two years of having to #StayHome, we were all bit by the travel bug. Unfortunately, as agencies and travel companies recompose, they can't have the same offer and deals as before since consumer preferences have changed drastically.
New kinds of destinations, activities, and accommodation are emerging, and your business needs to stay on top of trends and what these post-pandemic travelers are on the look for.
Of course, you can always google "travel trends" and read a couple of articles. Still, travel trend tracking can be richer when you combine different sources. In addition, when you run your travel trend tracking, you can search for trends at the exact time you need them instead of waiting for a new article to pop up on search engines.
Read on to explore how to find travel trends yourself.
What are you going to track?
The first step in your trend tracking process is to know what you will look for. For example, do you want to identify the hottest destinations? Or to find out if hostels are more popular than rented apartments? Or maybe you're eager to offer new types of activities?
It can be only one question or all of them! But it's essential to have a clear view of what you'll be tracking so as not to waste time on sources that are useless to you.
Where can I find these travel trends?
With your list of goals for trend tracking ready, you can make this process even faster and easier by preselecting where you will look for that information. As we mentioned, you will need different sources to perform effective trend analysis.
There are a lot of travel-oriented sites you can check out for vacation insights and upcoming trends. We are going to cover them in three sections:
Online travel agencies
Popular websites like Booking.com or SkyScanner are any traveler's first choice when looking to make a reservation. Since we're looking for trends and not running a competitive analysis of hotels or airlines, we can go directly to these platforms' blogs and news sites.
These businesses deal with many data from purchases, interactions with customer support, and user behavior on their websites. Are they discarding that information? Of course not! Many companies share their analyses and articles on dedicated blogs or press sections.
Take Booking's news site, where you'll find featured stories elaborated by their team, press releases, and a section showing all their media appearances. That can give you a first overview of what's trending, then move over to other sources and keep investigating.
Tourist attraction search engines
Another great source of information for travelers is platforms that focus on what to do in each destination. Then, we're talking about websites like TripAdvisor or WithLocals. These feed tourists exciting points to visit and may also sell excursions and tours.
Just by taking a look at their homepage, you can see trending destinations and activities all over the world. For example, WithLocals features a Top 5 places to go with kids and a Top 5 cities for food lovers.
You can investigate further by looking up the destinations you've chosen at the beginning of the analysis in these search engines. Besides popular attractions, you'll find user reviews of each one. On TripAdvisor, people even share their complete holiday itineraries! All this information is crucial to feed your strategy.
Specialized travel news sites
When planning a trip, people not only look for information on social-media-like platforms where users share opinions but also in specialized blogs and news sites.
On these travel sites, we can find opinions, itineraries, and reviews from experienced travelers and writers. Therefore, their content is vital to detect emerging travel aspects.
Like tourist search engines, on the homepage of sites like CNN Travel, you'll find featured stories, news, and reviews to keep in mind when designing your new travel offers.
In addition to this section can be the World Tourism Organization's travel data dashboard, which provides stats and analyses about world tourism. This dashboard can be a great complement to your investigation.
Trend tracking tools
This one is a bit obvious, but you should check trend-tracking tools. Take your list of queries (the one we told you to do earlier, remember? You need that!) and look each one up on these platforms to see their popularity, related topics, and search evolution over time.
There are many options to choose from, but here are our two highlights:
We can all agree that this is an excellent trend-tracking tool. Backed by information from the biggest search engine in the world, Google Trends is perfect for identifying popular phenomenons in the travel industry and providing greater detail into each trend.
For example, when looking for a destination, you can filter by age and location of the person searching. That can indicate if a particular place is popular amongst the elderly or the young. Moreover, it's important to identify where the people searching are located to target your efforts and not lose money and time offering a destination to people in an area that aren't interested.
Google Trends also provides related terms that can help us see if specific destinations are combined. Last but not least, the search evolution in this platform clearly shows you seasonality so that you know when to advertise certain destinations.
Want to learn more about the different uses of this tool? We have a complete guide on Google Trends for you to explore. And as a bonus, check out Google's microsites for hotel trends and destination insights.
Although not as extensive as Google Trends, Exploding Topics is a great complement to keep at hand.
As its name indicates, when you open up the website, you'll see a massive list of trending topics, which you can filter by a category, like travel. You can also choose a shorter or larger period to filter topics.
You can click on each keyword to see the search volume and related terms. Of course, you might need more context on each word since the homepage doesn't say much, which is why we recommend it as a complement. Still, you can get a quick overview of popular topics.
Where do people go when they want to share memories from their travels? Bingo.
That is why social media must be included in your trend-tracking strategy for travel. You'll get information from thousands of users showing their tourist experience. Visual social platforms, such as Instagram or Pinterest, are essential to identify where people are going and whether they enjoy it.
Inside the social media spectrum, here are some key aspects you can monitor.
If you follow a couple of travel influencers, you may have seen stories of them vacationing in the same destination. For example, when summer hits, every single influencer is taking a trip to Greece. You may even spot the same resort being tagged in different influencers' posts. That indicates a strong marketing effort being made by certain hotels or even the country itself.
It would help if you kept an eye on this because their followers will be tempted to go the same route as they did, and your agency needs to have that offer ready. So, similarly to the first step in this travel trend tracking guide, take some time to investigate key influencers that target your audience. Then, once your list is ready, you can track their activity and see what's trending.
Posts made by tourists
Besides popular influencers, which may partner with the location or hotel they stayed at, you need to look at end-user activity. But since monitoring every single account is impossible, you can get by with other platform sections.
For example, you can track certain locations to see what restaurants, tourist points, and activities are most shared and identify emerging trends. Then, look up the location and get an endless feed of images and posts to analyze.
The same goes for hashtags: choose a couple of broader and niche hashtags to see what users are up to. #wanderlust, #solotravel, and #backpackingkid are some examples of what you could be monitoring to see particular users' publications.
Official country or city accounts
You can also use social media to follow location updates. For example, you could monitor Colombia's official Instagram account, @colombia.travel, to see what festivities are coming up, prepare an offer according to it, and stay informed of their available tourist attractions. Additionally, you could check out their website to see what they're promoting.
How can I track travel trends?
Once you've chosen your travel trend sources, it's time to go track 'em. Trends emerge over time, not from one day to the other, so you need to be constant with your analysis.
A good practice would be to go through each selected site every week; for example, jot down what key topics you detect and pay attention to whether they keep repeating over time. You could begin by monitoring specialized sites and social media. When you see something is coming up frequently, you can verify with a tool like Google Trends to see if its search volume is starting to grow.
It's important not to make decisions based only on that but also to ask yourself why this destination is popping up so much? It may be a matter of seasonality or the country in question hosting an international event. Why is this restaurant so popular? Check if a top influencer has recently posted something about it.
Going back to find the cause of these new trends in tourism is key for your analysis. Also, contrast your conclusions from this qualitative investigation with business results, metrics, and KPIs to decide whether investing in these new areas would mean a profit to you.
The trend tracking process can be incredibly valuable to your business and an interesting idea to pitch to your leaders. Now, another aspect to take into account is the amount of time this activity can take. You wouldn't want to spend hours looking through websites when you have a lot of other tasks to complete (and neither does your boss).
Luckily, a tool can help you accelerate trend tracking, and it has to do with screenshots.
Monitoring travel trends with automated screenshots
Automated screenshot software, like Stillio lets you capture websites at their full length at the interval you need. These regular intervals can be monthly, weekly, daily, or up to 5 minutes with the best plan.
That means you won't have to set alarms to check out these travel sites and spend hours browsing because the screenshots will be saved into your account to return to whenever you want. So you can compare different WithLocals homepages, for example, without remembering what you saw last time you checked- it's all saved for you.
With Stillio, you can also get notified whenever new screenshots are available so that you don't manually have to keep track of your screenshots all the time. In addition, if you need to check foreign websites, you can set the IP location to any continent and get trustworthy captures.
Pricing starts at $29 for daily screenshots of 5 URLs.
You may think we've reached the end of the travel trend tracking process, but this is ongoing, as new hot spots are emerging worldwide. With this guide (and an automation tool by your side), you'll never miss out on a trend again!
Suppose you'd like to know more about Stillio for the travel and transportation industry. In that case, you can get a 14-day trial for free below!