Luxury rail travel such as India’s Maharajas’ Express is becoming a popular travel trend, according to Cox & Kings USA. // © 2010 Cox & Kings USA
Stanley // © 2010 Cox & Kings USA
According to Thomas Stanley, chief head and chief operating of tour operator Cox & Kings USA, travelers are seeking more value and more unique experiences during their vacations. Stanley recently outlined his top 10 travel trends for 2011, highlighting the most popular destinations, itineraries, modes of travel and overall trends to look out for in 2011.
1. Multi-Destination Vacations
Stanley believes that because clients have become more interested in experiencing multiple cultures, cuisines, etc. during their vacations, multi-destination traveling affords travelers the opportunity to discover exactly what they want from a combination of countries.
“We are starting to see an increased interest in combined itineraries such as India and Bhutan or Peru and Argentina,” said Stanley.
2. The Revival of Group Tours
Due to recent economic shifts in both the travel industry and the general marketplace, clients are in search of the same travel experience at a discounted rate. Recognizing this development, tour operators such as Cox & Kings are seeking to maximize group tour opportunities that offer travelers the same authentic cross-continental experience without breaking the bank.
3. Contemporary Cultural Travel
A travel destination rich in history and culture no longer satisfies today’s ambitious traveler. Instead, special interest attractions such as current musical trends and cutting-edge modern art exhibits are what beckon today’s client.
“Travelers want to see beyond the historic art these areas are known for and get a glimpse into what is happening now,” said Stanley.
4. The Resurgence of Travel Experts
As a result of the irrelevant, oftentimes misleading information on the Internet, it has become exceedingly difficult for today’s traveler to book an exceptional travel experience unaided, said Stanley. This detail, paired with the upturn in special requests, has resulted in the traveler’s increased desire to work with tour operators and travel agents who have developed an intimate knowledge of the sought-after product.
5. Not Just Seeing but Learning
Clients have become increasingly interested in learning and doing as opposed to just seeing and 2011 will be no exception to the growing appeal.
“Demand has increased for specialized learning experiences — everything from sushi making in Japan to photography excursions in Argentina,” said Stanley.
6. Ride the Rails
A number of new luxury trains — including India’s first state-of-the-art cross-country train, the Maharajas’ Express — have launched in the past year and have consequently caused an upturn in rail travel. The benefits for the client include comfort, ease and maximized travel time without having to pack up, fly or drive to experience multiple destinations.
7. Experiential Family Travel
The appeal of the family getaway has come a long way from the sweaty, cross-country road trip designed to maximize quality time.
According to Stanley, “There is a desire from parents to expose their children to the cultures and lifestyles of the regions that they are visiting. Travel is one of the best educational tools for children,” and will maintain its appeal in 2011.
8. 'Bucket-List” Experiences
Today’s traveler is interested in once-in-a-lifetime experiences to check off of their bucket-lists. This next year will see an expansion in increasingly specific, must-see destinations that will allow the traveler bragging rights for months to come.
9. One-of-a-Kind, Specialty Travel Experiences
From culinary tours to yoga retreats, niche travel ensures continual growth and demand during 2011. Specialized itineraries reassure guests that they will experience exactly what it is that interests them with an exotic spin.
10. Top Destination Picks for 2011
Based on demand from Cox & Kings clients, Stanley predicted that Libya, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Colombia and Jordan would be some of the most popular travel destinations for 2011.