A few years after I began blogging in 2011, I wrote a post about how travel has changed over the past 10 years. Back when postcards were still being sent, people had to visit an internet cafe to send emails and book flights with travel agents. Although the 2000s seemed to be a time of great change in travel, the 2010s witnessed societal and technological changes.
As the 2020 pandemic threatens the future of travel, it is interesting to reflect on some of the changes that have already been seen. Although it is difficult to predict the long-term effects, one thing is certain: the industry will adapt. How has travel changed over the past 10 years? Here are ten ways.
1. Travel planning
Ten years ago, most of my travel plans were made using a Lonely Planet book. This site was created in 2011, when blogging was still relatively new. There weren’t many other travel blogs or readers. The idea behind blogging was to share random stories and photos from your travels, but not to include useful information.
Bloggers have become an industry with thousands of blogs covering all types of travel and destinations. Bloggers are now professionals, working with destinations and travel companies to compete with Tripadvisor for the number one spot on Google.
Web design, social media and marketing skills have become as important as writing ability as the simple travel stories have been traded for in-depth, well-researched and SEO-optimised travel guides with professional-standard photos. Bloggers aren’t all that inspire travelers. There’s a swell of YouTube and Instagram influencers who have helped transform destinations like Cappadocia, Turkey, and Trolltunga, Norway into must-sees.
It’s been a great 10 year for travellers. You want to know how to get from Johannesburg and Cape Town by train, or what you should pack for a winter getaway. There’s a post that will help you do just that, and more. Guidebooks are struggling to keep up with the rapid updates of online content.
2. Book your trip
Ten years ago, people booked their vacations online. But, it’s now the norm with more than 80% of the population using the internet. Opodo, Expedia, and Lastminute.com were the first to offer online travel bookings. However, this revolution has spread to other industries such as airlines, hotels and transport companies. You can book your entire trip right from your smartphone.
You need to ensure that your travel business is compliant with these regulations. TripAdvisor and Twitter have made it easy for customers to report problems and have been very visible …),. This has forced companies to improve their customer service skills.
What about travel agents? My RTW trip required me to spend hours trying to find the right balance between my travel goals and my budget. With the departure of Thomas Cook and other well-known names, it is clear that the traditional high street agency has seen a decline. There has been an increase in the number of online specialist agencies that focus on one region or type, and have the local contacts and knowledge to create more complex itineraries.
3. Low-cost airlines
Although the first low-cost airline companies were established in the 1970s, the industry’s growth has been phenomenal over the past 10 years. Since 2009, the number of low-cost airlines has increased by twofold. New routes and airlines have been established all over the globe, expanding from North American and European markets to Asia and Africa.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between low-cost carriers and those that are standard. Major airlines have started to set up budget offshoots, and cut back on extras such as seat selection. When you factor in the many hidden fees, those PS9.99 Ryanair flight often cost more than a standard one. All this competition has resulted in a drop in flight prices over the past 40 years.
The industry of airline has become divided, with different markets being served. By cramming more people into smaller seats and offering fewer services, they are able to lower fares at the low-cost end of the market. To win business fliers over the super-rich, Etihad offers The Residence, an uber-luxurious First Class cabin that is eye-wateringly pricey. It has a double bed, en suite shower, and a Savoy-trained butler. Unfortunately, I have not tried it.
The budget airline industry began with short-haul flights. However, it has expanded to long-haul with low cost carriers like AirAsia or Norwegian. New technology is breaking down barriers. The planes are becoming larger and the ranges of these aircraft are expanding. It is now possible to fly non-stop between the UK and Australia. This was impossible 10 years ago.
4. Stay at these places
Air Bed & Breakfast, a niche website that listed a few hundred B&Bs, launched in 2008. It was rebranded as AirBnB two years later. The listings grew to thousands of rooms. Ten years ago, your options for holiday accommodation were limited to hostels, camping, hotels, and holiday rentals. The rentals were usually booked as part of a package holiday and required a minimum of one week booking.
AirBnB is changing the way people travel. It now has more than seven million listings. Over the past 10 years, I have stayed in AirBnBs all over the globe. These range from a family home located in Lapland up to a cabin located in Guadeloupe. Its dominance has caused traditional hotels and resorts all over the world to diversify their offerings, offering a wide range of quirky accommodation options.
Boutique-style hostels have been created with en suite bedrooms and smart new facilities. This is to attract more wealthy flashpackers, as well as the typical gap year crowd. In the Maldives you can now rent a spare bedroom in a person’s house. Before that, the only way to visit the country was by staying at an all-inclusive resort. AirBnB listings are available in almost all towns, no matter how remote.
5. Keep in touch
To keep in touch with my family when I started traveling, I had to find an internet cafe and pay for slow internet access. Or, you could send a postcard. It may or may not get back to the UK. Now, wifi, smartphones, and social media allow you to be just as connected on the move as you are at your home. It’s easy to organize meet-ups and stay in touch with people. Not to forget about easier travel regulations and visa waivers.
Although smartphones were common by 2010, there has been a significant shift in the way we use them to stay in touch over these past 10 years. You might have been one the 150 million Facebook users back then who shared ‘What are your thoughts?’ or uploaded a few photos.
Social media has taken off since then. Facebook now has more than 2.6 billion users. In the past 10 years, a number of new sites were launched (and lost) including Instagram, Snapchat and Vine, Google Plus, Google Plus, TikTok, Vine, Vine, Google Plus and Google Plus. The way people use social media has also changed.
Social media is less about sharing uneditable snapshots of your life, but instead, they are a curated feed that creates a specific image for their followers, friends, and families. Instant and short-term video and photo content such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Stories can be used to show what’s happening behind-the scenes.