In 2017, innovative travel companies, apps and products will change travel as we know it. Eco-friendly initiatives and sustainable travel will be a top industry trend. With the United Nations declaring 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, you can expect industry wide efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But the upcoming year is about more than just responsible travel. From inventive tools that allow you to snap high-quality travel photos or map out your trip with an artificial intelligence platform to evolving alternative accommodation platforms, there are plenty of groundbreaking changes on the horizon.

Here are some of the Travel Trends this year:

Increased users on OTA platforms

OTAs worldwide record a surge in their clientele as internet becomes more available worldwide and cheaper too. This wave that has been growing for the past few years will also benefit from the crashing prices of smartphones and is expected to continue into 2017 as millennials who are the major travelers are also very tech savvy.

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Go Green
With a rising consumer and industry interest in ecotourism, hotels, tour operators and outfitters will incorporate responsible practices and encourage travelers to plan low-impact getaways. Traveling shorter distances is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. Another way to bring sustainability to the forefront of your travels is to choose hotels and restaurants that are eco-minded in their practices. And perhaps one of the most immediate ways to help is by choosing to visit destinations that will benefit the most from your tourist dollars is pointing to destinations like Nepal as a place that’s benefited from tourism money getting funneled into the local economy.

Recommendations have a strong voice

A growing distrust of corporate websites and the move to social media means recommendations from our peers are increasingly important when considering booking a holiday. Over 95% of leisure travelers read about 7 reviews before booking, spending an average of 30 minutes. Going the extra mile for customers could really pay for itself if it means you get a good review that could end up driving more leads than an expensive advertising campaign.

Virtual Reality

VR allows the possibility of giving holidaymakers the chance to ‘try before you buy’ in a way that has previously been impossible. You try on clothes to see how they look before taking your credit card out, but you have to take a travel company’s word for it that their beach resort really does offer ‘pristine white beaches’. In future, you’ll be able to look around the resort, see your room and check out just how big the pool is.

Vanishing Destinations
Destinations at risk of disappearing will also see a rise in tourist traffic. There’s an urgency to see places before they are completely changed, places such as the Arctic and Antarctic as popular destinations affected by climate change. Another top destination is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for adventure travelers yearning to see the coral before it’s gone or completely changed.

A blend of business and pleasure travel
Today’s work pattern and culture is different from what it used to be. Today, work typically has a looser structure. This makes it easier for business travelers to indulge in activities that count as pleasure and take time out to experience the work location as a leisure tourist would. Business travelers who are increasingly becoming millennials are blurring the distinction between business and leisure travel, and in 2017, it’s expected to be even more so as fun increasingly becomes an integral of work.

Rise in the demand for authentic local experiences and activity packed tours
Before now, travel outside of business focused more on relaxation and change of scenery. Where the older generation would mostly travel for these reasons, millennials are more inclined to travel with the goal of having immersive and interactive experiences, learning something new while travelling in Peru, living the life of the locals in Mexico, exploring Lagos, and having more action packed trips outside of mere sightseeing. This trend was prominent in the past year, and is expected to continue strongly into 2017 as the millennial generation which is adventure driven continues to dominate world travel.

Flight

Artificial Intelligence Tools Are Improving and Expanding
Travel sites have long been toying with the idea of implementing real-time messaging platforms and personalized automation technology. Today, you can use Google’s AI personal assistance or Siri to book your travel plans. That has the potential to really change how people search for travel on the booking site. In the past, companies were geared toward desktop and mobile search. With artificial intelligence through voice-activated platforms, the lines are getting redrawn. Other artificial intelligence tools to watch include Lola, an on-demand travel app that lets you research or book your travel plans on the go, and Expedia, which is planning to launch an AI platform for personal messaging and customer assistance.

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