Travel Trends: A golf course in Dubai’s World Central Airport…

A new report by one of world’s largest hotel groups says airport indulgances are at an all-time high, and that shopping and indulging in luxuries at airports worldwide will be a key global travel trend that will have potential impact in 2012 and beyond With over 153 million room nights booked by guests each year, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), says in its report that new global travel patterns are impacting local geographies, and cites the world’s largest airport, Dubai’s upcoming World Central Airport as an example.
IHG says that 100 new airports will emerge by 2020 in China, while “Dubai’s World Central airport will house a golf course and the world’s largest mall.”

So what does the future hold for us when we travel? “Well, we could be travelling virtually baggage free by being able to rent our clothing and accessories from hotel lobbies, de-stress in special sleeping labs in hotels and stimulate our minds through in-room brain spa menus,” the report states.

“We could even be shopping from our mobiles by scanning codes from an in-flight magazine and have items delivered to any hotel in any destination,” the report speculates.

The contributors to IHG’s trends report were asked what they thought were the main drivers of change that would influence 2012 in terms of travel and these insights have been reflected in five macro trend areas.

Among the mega-trends that the hotel group’s analysts have outlined are:

REMAPPING: New global travel patterns are impacting local geographies

The remapping trend looks at how our travel and lifestyle patterns are changing and the impact this is having upon urban areas. For example, as we see the rise in populated areas outside of main city centres, smaller cities are being developed. Spas are more likely to be seen in an urban area now over a country retreat and we will see an increase in small communities around airports.

- 100 new airports will emerge by 2020 in China, while Dubai’s World Central airport will house a golf course and the world’s largest mall.

BRAIN SPA: The desire to learn more will influence destination decisions Brain Spa looks at our growing appetite to expand and keep our intellect in good health – in fact we are prepared to travel for it. Forbes has tipped the market for goods and services that claim to enhance IQ as the next trillion dollar industry and Brain Fitness software is already worth $265 million in the US.

- The market for goods and services responding to the new demand for mental stimulation is expected to grow between $1 billion to $5 billion by 2015.

DEMO-LUXURY: Airport indulgences are at an all-time high This trends looks at a new type of luxury – it no longer means high-cost but more ‘everyday indulgence’. It looks at how brands are co-creating with customers to offer these indulgences and how we are much more prone to ‘borrowing’ and not ‘buying’ one-off luxury items. As airport turnover goes through the roof – one of these ‘indulgences’ has been identified as the increase in shopping at airports.

- Global airport retailing is now worth 27.1 billion and is the second fastest growing channel of retail after e-tailing as many women prefer to travel light and shop at the airport.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS: Using the web to buy ‘in flight’ and get ‘in hotel’

This trend looks at our relationship with the internet and how it will take on a new meaning in the future. It focuses on how the internet will slowly move out of conventional devices such as the mobile and move into less likely items like magazines, for example. We could soon be buying items in-flight and receiving them at our destination. Or, ordering food from our mobiles and it being ready on the restaurant table on arrival – and so the phenomenon ‘from tablet to table’ is born.

- Did you know that computers of the next generation will need to be 1000 times faster in order to keep up with the speed that the industry is moving

PEOPLE PLAY: Consumers will be loyal only if brands ‘play nicely’

This trends looks at how sophisticated brands have become in order to continue to maintain customer loyalty. Game play has become a huge focus area as big brands adopt some of the principles of Facebook and Google.

- The total spend on loyalty-based game play applications will rise to $1.6 billion globally by 2015 as the war for brand loyalty moves up a gear in response to increasingly savvy consumers.

Dubai hotels shine in Q1

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has announced that the hotel industry registered 9 per cent increase in guest numbers, 24 per cent increase in revenues, 22 per cent jump in guest nights and a 12 per cent rise in the average length of stay in the first quarter of 2012.

The impressive January-March 2012 results caps the stellar performance posted by the hotels in Dubai last year with revenues touching an all-time high of Dhs16 billion and 10 per cent increase in the guest numbers which crossed the nine million mark.

Khalid A bin Sulayem, DTCM Director General, said in a statement at Arabian Travel Market (ATM-2012) that "the remarkable results of our hospitality industry is the outcome of the substantial expansion of the tourist infrastructure, an increasingly impressive portfolio of tourism products, wider destination awareness, aggressive promotional and marketing drive and the growing air-connectivity to and from Dubai. The iconic Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) also contributed enormously towards this feat."

He added, "The overriding feature of this strikingly impressive performance has been our focus on quality standards and going beyond the expectations of the guests. Equally crucial has been the inspiring partnership between the government and private sectors to reach higher levels of growth. The new hotel classification scheme that has been put in place will go a long way in gaining more growth in the market which is seeing more rooms adding up to the inventory." During Q1 2012, Dubai hotels and hotel apartments played host to nearly 2.6 million guests, an increase of 9 per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Similarly, the guest nights swelled by 22 per cent to touch 10.35 million, while the revenues recorded 24 per cent increase to more than Dhs5.38bn.

The number of hotels increased by 1 per cent to reach 577 with the total number of rooms and flats swelling 4 per cent to 75,171.

Hotel room occupancy rate stood at 87 per cent, an increase of 8 per cent while it was 84 per cent occupancy for the apartment flat, a 5 per cent increase.

However, the apartment average room rate witnessed 12 per cent increase to reach Dhs448 while the hotel average room rate was Dhs655, an increase of 7 per cent.

Tourism contributes 31% of Dubai’s GDP

Dubai’s tourism figures are at an all-time high as new figures reveal that the sector contributed 31 per cent of the emirate’s GDP in 2011.

The number of visitors to Dubai is expected to rise 10 per cent this year, according to figures released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Speaking to the media at the ongoing Arabian Travel Market, DTCM Director-General Khalid A bin Sulayem said: “Dubai’s tourism figures are very promising with the emirate hosting 9.3 million hotel guests and cruise passengers in 2011, which was up 10 per cent from the previous year. This contributed to 31 per cent of Dubai’s GDP last year.”

Meanwhile, guest nights rose 23 per cent to 32,848,190 while the average length of stay went up by 12 per cent to 3.6 days last year.

Dubai's 575 hotels generated revenues of Dhs16 billion last year, an increase of 20 per cent from 2010. The year saw a five per cent increase in the number of hotel rooms and hotel apartments which stood at 53,828 rooms and 21,015 hotel flats respectively.

DTCM also announced that it will be introducing to the tourism industry the new hotel classification checklists for all categories as part of the new classification scheme but no date was given
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