A look at the defining moments that made an impact in tourism worldwide this year
Every year, the travel industry takes bigger, evolutionary steps with innovative solutions to issues that travellers face. Worthy of mention are online check-ins and how printing boarding passes is now self-service, keeping in touch with family is free via Skype and transport worldwide is available within minutes through private driver booking app like Uber. This year marks progress along the lines of holiday home rentals with hotel services, seamless digital transactions, and a step into sustainability through a completely green airport. Here are eight defining trends of the travel industry in 2015.
The rise of home rentals for vacations
It all began with hotel and accommodation booking sites like Booking.com, Expedia and Agoda. The trend spurred Airbnb, a vacation rental site for personalised, ‘homey’ and affordable lodging which received overwhelming response between 2014 and now. Besides Airbnb, other notable vacation rental businesses included HomeAway.com, Wimdu, Roomorama, and 9flats.com. Even better is Tripping, an online accommodation-booking space that pulls listings from a collection of vacation rental platforms and hotel booking sites, comparing budgets, location, rating and reviews – a movement we predict will grow in 2016.
Kochi airport becomes world’s first fully solar powered airport
In 2013, Kochi airport installed a 400-panel solar energy plant on its rooftop. Fast forward to August this year and the airport depends solely on a 12-megawatt solar plant of 46,000 solar panels spanning 45 acres of land, a milestone step at greener solutions. This new system is estimated to conserve 300,000 tons of carbon emissions – the equivalent to planting three million trees.
El Cellar de Can Roca is #1 restaurant in the world
Gastronomes who want to eat at the “World’s Best Restaurant” as nominated by Restaurant Magazine will need to book 11 months in advance to sample a menu that’s trumped all others. El Cellar is run by the Roca brothers, Joan (executive chef), Josep (head sommelier) and Jordi (pastry chef) who’ve carved a name for their restaurant and earned three Michelin stars within 30 years. The restaurant is known for a brilliant experience of epicurean feat; combining the artisanal and technical, while striking a middle ground between being experimental and traditional. Their 21-course menu features flavours of the world, of familiar tastes in unfamiliar forms and delicate creations too beautiful to eat – it’s no wonder El Cellar tops the prestigious “World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards”, too.
Bucket-list travel sites from a drone’s eye view
Since the introduction of drones, companies and industries have been figuring out how to integrate them seamlessly into their services for faster and more cost-effective purposes. Among them is photographer, Amos Chapple, who decided to use a drone to capture buildings from heights of “The way they were designed to be seen… This is their best side.” Amos photographed the world’s top tourist sites, such as Spain’s Sagrat Cor Church, Russia’s Church of the Saviour on Blood, Hungary’s Buda Castle and India’s Taj Mahal – a beautiful feat of the world’s architectural wonders from a whole new perspective.
World landmarks reinvented by photographer Rich McCor
2015 also saw the rise of ‘Insta-fame’, a phenomena of virtual overnight fame, with just one photo. Londoner Rich McCor was one lucky bloke who went from 5,000 to 60,000 followers in a week with his clever, quirky cut outs used to dress-up iconic landmarks in his photos. The artist started by transforming Big Ben’s clock face into a watch with the addition of a paper strap, and the rest – popping a paper champagne bottle under a water feature near Tower Bridge, dangling a paper wool cut out in front of a lion statue in Trafalgar Square, and turning the London Eye into part of a paper bicycle’s wheel – caught the media’s attention, and launched his fame further. @paperboyo (his Instagram profile) has recently teamed up with Lonely Planet to put his artistic touch on other European landmarks.
And the Travel App of the Year goes to… Hopper
The fun before you go on the holiday of a lifetime only starts after days and nights of research, planning and finally purchasing flights, transportation, accommodation and passes. But with travel app Hopper, you’ll save on time and money spent as it scours for the best deals, plus helpfully predicting lowest prices in the future – qualities that made it worthy as one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2015. All you have to do is key in your destination and travel dates, and Hopper will do the legwork for you, comparing prices instantly and monitoring the trends for the ripest time to buy at an accuracy of 95 per cent.
Mobile transactions – cashless convenience
Taking cue from Uber, apps will make mobile transactions the next basic thing. Google and Apple are allowing users to sync their debit and credit cards, easing shopping by just placing your phone before a sensor at check out. Various travel apps like Airbnb and OpenTable are also offering paperless transactions so consider your phone as your wallet now, among other things.
Premium economy seats – comfort meets affordability
The ‘class’ between economy and business has finally been embraced by airlines and travellers worldwide, known as premium economy. More legroom, wider seats, bigger entertainment screens, and gourmet fare fitted into economy trays make part of the new flight package enticing, especially for long-haul flights. Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines are the two major airlines that have joined 15 out of the 20 largest airlines in the world with premium economy cabins. As expected, bookings are booming, so the next time you plan to go to the other side of the world, consider the new class.