Its’ that time of the year when a round-up of trends and top-ten lists are in order! For travel marketers, it would be nice to have the following info to enable better decision-making in the new year

1) The top ROI generating online media – we know search is #1 but review sites are catching up as a very important influencer. What about contextual ad networks, banners, email marketing?

2) The top travel sites and why they are really tops – price, ease of website use, variety of offers, customer relationship management, destinations, brand, web 2.0 technologies. Each “best of” site must be evaluated for its audience and how it fulfills their expectations

Social networking and video are thought to be the next big initiatives in engaging the consumer. Here are a few lifestyle trends surely impacting travel

– The national obsession with fitness, transfats and healthy lifestyles. It’s all about YOU staying young, healthy and beautiful!
– The suddenly relevant focus on the environment and green practices. Being green is not about being cool , it’s about being responsible (rising sea levels, smoggy skylines and melting glaciers are catching up with us). Ecotourism is no more an empty phrase and having the ability to choose an eco-friendly hotel on travel sites is not a far-fetched thought.
– The sudden uptick in adventure travel & activity vacations – The Internet and web 2.0 technologies have spawned a new generation of budding writers, photographers, hobbyists and adventurers. People can experience new cultures from the comfort of their desktops and test-drive exciting adventures before actually purchasing a package. Reviews, videos, ratings & virtual tours have rendered international destinations less exotic and more next-door. International travel and foreign sojourns are suddenly fashionable.
– Social networking and connecting have crossed the workplace – it’s all about being connected in the brave, new world. From geeks & travelers to housewives & sports enthusiasts, everyone can finally share their views, make new connections and express themselves. Social networking has contributed to making the web a much smaller world.

As online travel becomes more competitive, parnerships and alliances among the major players may become important as everyone fights for the same customer. Specialty travel sites with expertise in specific areas may do better than sites trying to be everything to everybody at all times!

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.