JOHANNESBURG – Keeping up with global trends is hugely important for South African companies involved in the tourism industry. If we want to encourage more foreigners to visit our shores, we have to listen to what they want. That’s why I attended the World Travel Market trade event in London in November this year.
While spending most of the time at the Thebe Tourism Group stand may have meant that I wasn’t able to listen to the speakers at the event, it certainly gave me the opportunity to interact with people from the trade, with influencers and with media, and this has provided me with some important insights about how we need to take things forward in South Africa.
A big takeout for me was the power of the millennial generation to influence what tourism will look like in the years ahead. The demands of this generation are quite clear, and we need to tailor our offerings to address what these people are looking for ‒ not to the exclusion of the needs of other generations and their preferences, but we do need to develop products that cater to them. After all, this is definitely the generation of travellers we will be hosting over the next 20 to 40 years, so our strategies for the decades to come must be informed by their wants.
The millennial market currently spends around $200 billion on travel annually, according to Forbes magazine, and this is set to increase significantly in the coming years. People of this generation travel far more regularly than their parents and grandparents do, so South African travel operators cannot ignore them if we seek to remain relevant in the global tourist market.
The titbits I picked up at the World Travel Market about the millennial market are highlighted by two points: