7 Travel Predictions We’re Betting Will Come True in 2019

Dec 30, 2018

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As we look back at this year, we can say that many of our 2018 travel predictions have come to fruition. And now that the year is coming to a close, we’re looking ahead to 2019 and forecasting what travel trends will take hold, from hotels doubling as coworking spaces to actual space travel.

Wondering what will happen to airlines in the new year? Check out our five air transport predictions, too.

1. Hotels Will Become Coworking Spaces

As millennial-courting brands continue to shrink room sizes and expand lobby lounges, coworking out of hotels will become the norm rather than the exception.

Hoxton, which recently opened properties in Brooklyn and Portland, Oregon, is leading the pack. Its lobbies are perennially packed with creative types working on laptops, but the brand is toying with the idea of putting designated coworking space in future hotels. Eaton — which recently opened hotels in Washington, DC and Hong Kong — has a coworking arm and membership club aimed at politically and socially progressive individuals. Other brands such as Moxy and CitizenM are following suit, encouraging locals to hang out and work in their public spaces. Even Sheraton is angling to get in on the game, with a plan to overhaul 450 hotels in the hopes of making them more appealing to locals as well as guests.

The Hoxton, Portland. Photo courtesy of Hoxton Hotels
The Hoxton, Portland. Photo courtesy of Hoxton Hotels

2. Off-the-Grid Destinations Will Become Accessible

As luxury hotel brands and safari operators open in the most remote corners of the world, travelers will be motivated to get farther and farther off the grid. From hard-to-reach tropical islands to vast swaths of desert, these destinations are giving travelers a chance to unplug (not to mention bragging rights).

Recent openings like the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa in the Andaman Islands and upcoming openings like Shinta Mani Wild in the Cambodian jungle; safari outfitter Natural Selection’s Shipwreck Lodge and Hoanib Valley Camp on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast; Singita Kwitonda in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park; the Arctic Bath Hotel in Swedish Lapland; and a cluster of six domes tented on Bolivia’s isolated salt flats will entice intrepid travelers to ditch cities and head into the wild.

Hoanib Valley Camp in Namibia. Photo courtesy of Natural Selection.
Hoanib Valley Camp in Namibia. Photo courtesy of Natural Selection.

3. Self-Driving Cars Will Cruise the Streets

Autonomous vehicles aren’t going to outnumber normal cars anytime soon, but make no mistake that they’re becoming more prevalent. Waymo, which was born as Google’s self-driving car project, has already put self-driving vehicles on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, and other start-ups like May Mobility and Drive.ai are developing models, too.

According to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles, more than 80 cities around the globe, including 30 in the US, are either piloting self-driving cars or are committed to doing so in the near future. And the next time you order a Lyft, you just might have the chance to be a passenger in an autonomous vehicle.

4. Your Face Could Be Your Boarding Pass

First we had paper, then digital QR codes. But the next iteration of boarding passes might not be something you have to keep track of at all. The TSA has begun implementing biometric technology that uses facial recognition to match your passport photo with a scan of your face at the terminal: and it could completely revolutionize the airport experience. The technology is already being tested at Los Angeles International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta and Denver International Airport, among others. (TPG’s own Darren Murph used his face to board a Delta flight last month.)

5. Solo Travel Will Continue to Gain Popularity

The 2018 Adventure Travel Trends report by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) showed a rise in solo travel, and that trend is likely to continue growing in 2019. Linked to the rise of digital nomads, the upward trend in solo travel shows no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, tour operators like Contiki and Intrepid Travel are enticing solo travelers to join group trips where they can meet like-minded individuals. Plus, must-have apps like Tourlina and MayDay are helping solo travelers stay safe, navigate new cities and meet other solo travelers.

Photo courtesy of Intrepid Travel
Photo courtesy of Intrepid Travel

6. Cruise Lines Will Keep Courting Millennials

Of the many things that millennials have been accused of killing, the cruise industry is one that rings particularly true. In 2018, we predicted that cruise lines would finally attract more than just, well, people who already like cruising. In 2019, we expect them to keep trying.

Millennials tend to value authenticity, autonomy and sustainability when it comes to travel, and shy away from cruise ship staples like buffets and casinos. But as millennials come of age and their spending power increases, cruise companies are still desperately trying to win them over.

U by Uniworld pioneered the way, but has had trouble attracting the millennials it was created for. Earlier this month, Celebrity debuted its highly anticipated Celebrity Edge ship, which overhauled everything from standard cruise design to dining and entertainment. In November, Royal Caribbean launched the world’s largest ship — Symphony of the Seas — which caters to millennials (and their kids) with state-of-the-art technology and incredible offerings for kids. And though Virgin Voyages and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection won’t sail until 2020, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more brands announce cruising innovations aimed at attracting millennials next year.

The adults-only solarium.
The adults-only solarium. Photo by Melanie Lieberman

7. Space Travel Will Become the Next Frontier

Just this month, Virgin Galactic successfully sent a crewed spaceship designed to carry private passengers up into space. Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson told The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, that he will travel into space in 2019 in a recent episode of TPG’s Talking Points podcast. No word on when the 600 plus people who prepaid for a space flight aboard Virgin Galactic will take off, but it’s safe to speculate that it could be as soon as next year. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is also in the space race with his Blue Origin rocket, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX has announced that it will fly its first passenger to the moon in 2023.

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