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“Technology, enrichment and purpose will reign supreme”: Excite’s Vanessa Richards

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Technology, enrichment and purpose will reign supreme in 2019, according to Excite Holiday’s CMO Vanessa Richards.

2019 is set to play host to some massive changes to the ways people travel and the reasons why they book.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable using AI and voice control tech, they’re searching for more eco-friendly options and chasing more intimate, customised experiences.

We caught up with Richards to see how these trends are manifesting in Excite’s customers and partners.

She told us consumer behaviour will spark some big changes for the year ahead.

“The way people book, consume and experience their travel is altering the market and the destinations being visited,” she said.

Here’s how.

Technology & curation

“From a technological viewpoint, accessibility and curation are key,” Richards began.

“With our connected world and increasing technological advancements appeasing the growing consumer appetite for experience, we are poised for ground-breaking developments that will take travel to new heights.

“Customer curation is vital.”

According to a recent travel agent survey conducted by Excite, 64 per cent of consumers want curated information, admitting that they would prefer someone or something to do the hard work for them.

Another 41 per cent of travellers noted they would like technologies such as AI to make suggestions based on past experiences.

“Ease, accessibility and immediacy will be the number one deciding factor when it comes to whom and where they book,” Richards said.

Travelling with purpose

According to Richards, purpose is also more relevant than ever.

“Travellers are becoming savier, craving authenticity in the destinations they visit,” she told us.

“They want to immerse themselves in the communities surrounding them, not just as a spectator, but as one of them.

“They want to feel something before, when and after they travel. 2019 will see a rise in people’s (particularly Gen Z) desire to learn something new, which may include volunteer-based work, cultural exchange or work placement mixed in with a holiday.”

The sustainability factor 

“Sustainability and environmental enrichment is more prevalent than ever going into 2019,” Richards continued.

“Travellers want to give back to the destinations they visit, leaving positive footprints for the future generations to come.

“We will see large investments in sustainable travel, with accommodation providers looking to further reduce their plastic usage.

“Kill the straws people – the time is now!

“Overtravel is also a serious and well-known issue for these travellers, so there will be a change in the destinations being visited and how they are being explored.

Changing destinations 

All of these trends play into the hottest destinations for Australian and New Zealand Travellers in 2019. Here are Richards picks:

• Maldives, Vietnam and Sri Lanka for a beach break

• Morocco, Jordan and Egypt Turkey for authenticity

• Thailand, Bali, Fiji, New Zealand, US/Canada and Europe will still see enormous growth. However, travellers will be looking to see these destinations in greater depth.


This interview is an edited extract from Travel Weekly’s print magazine. To read the rest, subscribe here. 

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