Family at the beach in Scandinavia

Top 5 travel trends from this summer

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Scandinavia was a clear favourite for our passengers this summer many of those travelling with us indicated they were taking their “main holiday” in one of the Northern nations. Other travel trends we observed included the rise of self-catered accommodations off the beaten track, the use of mobile phones as on-the-spot travel guides and the desire for bots to provide tailored travel information.

Every year, over 7 million people from all over Europe travel with us. Here are the top 5 travel trends from this summer based on their input:
1. Scandinavia – hotter than ever!
2. Peak season is still going strong, but off-peak travel is growing
3. Getting off the beaten track
4. The mobile guide to the galaxy
5. Your own personal travel bot

1. Scandinavia – hotter than ever!

The Scandinavian countries have experienced their longest, warmest and sunniest summer since they started measuring back in the 18th century. Did all this sunshine contribute to their popularity this summer? It’s hard to know, but the fact remains that Sweden, Denmark & Norway ranked 1st, 2nd and 5th most travelled destinations. The Republic of Ireland and England were ranked 3rd and 4th.

Word Cloud - reasons for travel

2. Peak season is still going strong, but off-peak travel is growing

It might not come as a big surprise that “main holiday” was the top reason for travel in June, July and August. After that, visiting family and friends and shopping took 2nd and 3rd place.
Though the summer vacay remains a classic, we have noticed (along with other organisations in the travel industry) that winter is becoming an increasingly popular time to travel. Not just for winter sports, but also for winter festivals and the benefits of better deals on accommodations and far fewer tourists. In fact as many as 79% of the respondents in a recent study by Forbes said they would consider a winter trip.

3. Getting off the beaten track

Even though hotels and staying with family/relatives are the most frequently cited types of accommodations, our post travel survey shows a growing interest in self-catering houses and apartments, such as Sembo.

When we combine this with the blossoming trend of getting off the beaten track and seeking out places and cities less travelled, a clearer picture comes into view: in 2018, the thrill of travel is coming from living like a local, if just for a weekend.

In our predictive travel trends blog post from January, we also wrote about active vacations and wellness “slow-cations”. People are searching for new activities in new places, and packages that include active outdoor components are popping up everywhere. According to Pinterest statistics for 2018, it’s even trending among honeymooners.

Getting away from stress of the city to refuel on nature has led to some really creative solutions, like the 72-hour cabins in West Sweden. Health and wellbeing are trending in general, in combination with sustainability, and these trends are spilling into travel as well. Searches for vegan and vegetarian options when travelling have increased by 183% and 218% respectively. The same goes for eco hotels (+125%).

Another way to travel sustainably is to enjoy a “close-cation” – avoiding those long flights across the globe, and instead travelling short distances using greener forms of transport.

4. The mobile guide to the galaxy

The majority of us now travel with our smart phones. According to Google Consumer Insights 2018, this is true for 70% of US travelers (compared to 41% in 2015). And apparently more and more of us are using our phones on-the-fly when we arrive at our destination. Location-based searches like “hotels near me”, “things to do near me”, “restaurants near me” are all up. Meaning we’re starting to feel more confident about traveling to a place without doing loads of research ahead of time. We simply take out our mobiles when we get there and use them as instant travel guides.

We recognised this trend was on the rise a few years back, so we launched an initiative we call Favourite Places on our local blogs. The idea is to enable you, our travellers, to give and get tips from other travellers. These tips are documented and searchable on a map, with different categories and different target groups so you can filter for most relevant information possible. Have a look and see what you find!

Our phones are our local travel guides

5. Your own personal travel bot

According to Google’s Vice President of Engineering for Travel and Shopping, Oliver Heckmann, nearly 60% of consumers believe that their travel recommendations should be informed by the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence), with search results based on past behaviours and/or personal preferences. In fact, we’re seeking these personalised experiences so much that 36% of us are willing to pay extra for them! (PhocusWire, 2017)

Google also found that 70% of the requests posed to Google Assistant are expressed in natural language. This means we are getting more comfortable having conversations with bots the same way we do with humans. They also found that 1 in 3 travellers are interested in using some sort of digital assistance to research or book a trip and look into accommodation and things to do at the destination.

At Stena Line, we are preparing a digital travel assistant of our own: our bot Stina. You can find her on Facebook Messenger, just use the search field and type in her name. Stina is still young and needs some more training before she’s a full blown personal travel bot, but thanks to the 1200 questions she handles per month, this day may be closer than we think.

We hope you found this blog post interesting! Do you agree with our findings or do you have another take? Please let us know in a comment below. /ylva.

Ylva Vitorovic

Ylva is responsible for Stena Line's social channels. Here on A ferry nice blog, she writes about our history, our ferries, our people, etc. Don't hesitate to comment and ask questions.

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