As a marquee brand of DER Touristik, Kuoni UK’s standing as somewhat of an arbiter of what well-off travelers are interesting has significance well beyond British borders. While DER Touristik is Number 3 in market share standings among Germany’s tour operators (TUI is Number 1 and Thomas Cook Germany is Number 2), it has sometimes claimed to be tops in long-haul product—a claim somewhat borne out by its list of Top 25 UK international destinations, where long-haul holiday places predominate.
Just released, the Kuoni Worldwide Travel Report 2019, like its previous iterations, is full of nuggets of travel trade wisdom that backed up by Kuoni’s proprietary research and analyses of international markets. Here, INBOUND has assembled some of the key points made by the Kuoni Travel Report 2019.
First Up—the Word on the United States: “The USA is a consistent performer but gets a much-needed boost this year from airlines and hoteliers,” declares the Kuoni report, pointing out that budget carriers Wow and Norwegian helped spark interest in secondary cities and now the premium market welcomes British Airways flights into Charleston and Pittsburgh from April. American Airlines adds London-Phoenix in March and Edinburgh-Philadelphia in April and Delta Air Lines is adding Edinburgh-Boston in May. Fly-drives are fueling growth for Kuoni with California and New England leading the way.
What’s Influencing Travel: The Kuoni Report found that a number of factors, of course, influence the travel decision. But tops among these factors in 2019 are the following:
—Whatever the Weather: If there’s one conversation common to nearly every travel conversation, it’s the weather. While the British heatwave of 2018 persuaded many to holiday at home, extreme weather in Indonesia hit the headlines post the devastating tsunami. To help people navigate their way through hurricane seasons, tropical humidity and dry climates around the world Kuoni has teamed up with meteorologists at weather trending.
—Social Travel: As much as some travelers want to switch off, others need to turn on. Millennials use Instagram in the way their parents used the Lonely Planet or Rough Guides. Honeymooners in particular want that iconic backdrop. The prevalence of WiFi has also prompted a surge in solo travel – apps make navigating alone far less daunting. Keeping in touch is easier too, as is meeting the locals – swipe right for a holiday romance.
—Money Matters: Currency fluctuations always give us the jitters, but despite the fall in the British pound sterling to around €1.1, the Euro was still the best-selling currency in 2018, according to Post Office Money. U.S. and Australian dollars were position two and three respectively (unchanged from 2017) but the surprise was the Turkish Lira: sales were up 368 percent after it fell 73 percent against the pound. Travelers can insulate themselves from prices on the ground by booking an all-inclusive holiday, but it is clear that a good deal on money can still cause a stampede.
—Fear Factor: However Brexit plays out, there will always be turbulence in travel. The Gatwick Airport drone was the industry’s unwanted Christmas present, but scares like this remind travelers of the benefits of booking a package. ABTA found 30 percent of holidaymakers spoke to a travel professional about their holiday in 2018, with 93 percent saying they went on to book with that company. Trusted brands are valued more than ever.
—Special Celebrations: Weddings and honeymoons have long been a Kuoni specialty, but any event could be an excuse for a special trip with group bookings for landmark birthdays and anniversaries all on the up. Special occasion travel now makes up a third of all bookings. Destination weddings continue to grow with a 260 percent increase year on year. Italy has moved into the top three wedding destinations for the first time in 2019.
—Food Setting the Agenda: Eating sets the agenda on holiday more than ever before; street food in Asia, vegetarian cuisine in India… every food trend is an excuse to make a gastronomic pilgrimage somewhere in the world. Such is the demand for food experiences nearly all Kuoni’s small group tours now include a local culinary element. From learning to make Kimchi in a cookery class in South Korea to joining a local chef in Lima, Peru to explore the markets and pick ingredients to take back to a local restaurant, there’s a definite move towards moments which bring to life the local flavors.
Who We’re Traveling With: The rise of solo travel has been widely reported over the past year and Kuoni’s own figures reveal a steady increase on people choosing to travel by themselves or with a friend rather than a partner. Top choices are: 1. Small group tours for single travelers 2. Wellbeing Escapes 3. Beach breaks with health and activity programs Kuoni’s own research shows 77 percent (42 percent yes definitely, 35 percent possibly) would consider travelling alone to see somewhere new, provided they were somewhere they felt safe and there were activities suited to them. Kuoni is planning a new program for single travelers in 2019.
Top Five Tours for Solos Last Year
- Temple, Tiger & Taj Trail
- Highlights of India – Taj Tour
- Classic South Africa
- Wildlife of Borneo
- Highlights of Japan
Travel Group Size
—Couples are Core: Couples of all ages are core customers. There’s no age limit on travel. The youngest customer to travel with Kuoni in 2018 was just three months old and the oldest couple were aged 187 years combined.
—Extended families with grandparents, single parent families, families travelling together, there has been a 7 percent rise in family bookings for 2019. Large family groups to celebrate a special occasion is a growth area. The largest family group last year was for 12 people (to Turkey).