Travel Insider: 'Pre-cations' and hipster holidays are among the hot travel trends for 2016
What have travel junkies got to look forward to in 2016? Pól Ó Conghaile takes the soundings from World Travel Market.
Have you taken a hipster holiday?
What are your thoughts on Travel 3.0? Did you know that global arrivals hit 1.1 billion last year, that 'pre-cations' are a thing, or that Iran could be the hottest travel ticket of 2016?
Those were just some of the trends, ideas and stats batted around at World Travel Market in London this week. One of the biggest global events for the travel industry, WTM is the mother of all meet-and-mingles, drumming up an estimated €3.4bn of business in just a couple of days.
Frustratingly, my own involvement began and ended on the tarmac at Dublin Airport (damn you, fog!), but I managed to get my fix from afar - thanks to Euromonitor's annual WTM Global Trends Report.
Some of the findings were obvious - mobile booking has gone mainstream (now accounting for 12.5pc of all online sales, it says), and travellers are flocking to hipster 'hoods. Some were not. Did you know that a small number of American companies - including Netflix - are offering employees unmonitored holidays? Apparently, staff are less likely to abuse that level of trust, and more likely to increase productivity. Others provide holiday spending money, or ensure their staff have a holiday before their work starts (that'll be the "pre-cation").
Closer to home, WTM also saw Tourism Ireland unveil Ireland's Ancient East as the follow-up to the Wild Atlantic Way. With tourists increasingly seeking experiences over products, and Irish tourism trending upwards, let's hope some of that €3.4bn comes our way.
Did you know Iran has 19 UNESCO World Heritage sites and more than a dozen ski resorts? Travel still poses its challenges (the Department of Foreign Affairs advises Irish visitors to "exercise caution"), but WTM saw the country tipped as an emerging destination for 2016.
Following this year's nuclear deal, Cox & Kings (coxandkings.com) will reintroduce trips from March, and Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com) has a 15-day Iran Adventure taking in Tehran, Persepolis, and more from €2,860pp, excluding flights.
One of the trends identified by Euromonitor International's WTM report was the rise of 'Hipster Holidays', where visitors travel to hip districts rather than historical tourist areas. Think Kreuzberg in Berlin, Amsterdam Noord, Norrebro in Copenhagen, District VII in Budapest or Miera iela in Riga.
The report also notes the role played by the sharing economy in opening up these areas, where hotels tend to be thin on the ground. Gentrification has its critics but, going to press, Airbnb (airbnb.ie) had rooms in Kreuzberg from €25pp per night.
NB: All prices subject to availability.