Travel Trends: Customization and Self Driving

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Travel Trends: Customization

Five trends involving personalization in the travel industry are personalized transportation, personalized recreation, personalized accommodations, personalized communications, and personalized ancillary options.


  • In a report by Wex, it was found that airline companies are now offering personalized flight notifications to consumers based on data collected on social media and other online browsing. These notifications are more likely to be acted upon than non-personalized flight notifications, with 34% of consumers reporting booking a flight after receiving one of these notifications.
  • Ryan Air is one example of an airline that recently invested in IT and data analytics in order to provide more customized recommendations.
  • Consumers are also requesting super customized transportation options, like VIP shuttles and private helicopter transfers.


  • Customers now expect at least some degree of personalization for their travel plans, even simple things such as personalized dining or entertainment recommendations.
  • Customers are demanding increased itinerary personalization based on interests. For example, sports enthusiasts may request an itinerary to view multiple big-sporting venues, while animal loves may request to visit animal welfare organizations or have animal based experiences.
  • In the future, itineraries may be entirely planned by artificial intelligence based on personal travel history and browsing, which would lead to a specifically customized experience for every traveler.


  • Hotels are going all-in on personalization, with some customizing the room and stay to the traveler's preference before the traveler even arrives at the hotel.
  • For example, hotels may customize the room's temperature, mini-fridge selection, lighting, and entertainment selection.
  • Additionally, hotels are monitoring their customer's stays and adding personalized touches. For example, Marriott monitors the social media accounts of customers staying at their hotels in order to "surprise and delight" guests. Recently, they sent a bottle of Champagne to a couple that got engaged after the couple tagged Marriott in their celebratory social media post.
  • Finally, travelers are continually seeking out-of-the-ordinary, completely unique and personalized accommodations, like igloos or tree houses.


  • One big trend in personalized travel is personalized travel marketing. For example, AccorHotels is planning to spend €225 million on personalized email marketing over the next five years.
  • Some companies are interacting one-on-one with their customers, or potential customers, on social media, by commenting on customers' posts or making use of hashtags so their customers can share their experiences with the brand more easily.
  • Most companies are using AI to tailor their marketing "to consumer intent in the moment." This means tailored ads "that promote the specific amenities, services or experiences you know particular guests are interested in."

Ancillary Options

  • Travel booking sites are offering personalization in their ancillary options that customers can add on when booking their travel plans.
  • For example, booking sites may offer gift cards to local restaurants, equipment purchases specific to the destination, or even allowing the customer to order a specific catered meal for an outing during the trip.
  • The luxury segment is taking this to the next level by allowing customers to add on a personal photographer for their trip, or a custom photo shoot specific to the destination.

Research Strategy

Trends were identified as such in expert publications and industry surveys. All trends focused on the North American region.
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Travel Trends: Self-Driving

Four trends that relate to self-driving during travel are North America dominating the self-driving industry, the adoption of electric vehicles for use in self-driving, the use of new technology in searching and booking self-driving cars, and the introduction of value-for-money self-driving services. Detailed information is in the next section.


  • North America dominates the tourism vehicle rental market. The US Travel Association states that domestic leisure trips totaled 1,821 million in 2018 and the figure is forecast to reach over 1,900 million by 2022.
  • The current trend is that visitors to the US and people living in the country are touring other locations in the US, and they opt to take road trips during their vacations. This is a driving factor in the increased demand for car rentals in the United States.
  • Canada is the second-largest country in the world with many attractions including 20 world heritage sites and attractions. The country, therefore, has a big domestic and foreign tourism industry, with people visiting places such as Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls. These regions tend to be some of the major hotspots for people to rent cars in Canada.



  • New technology trends have made it easy for those interested in self-driving during travel to search for a vehicle online and on booking engines. This trend is different from the more traditionally used offline booking of car rentals.
  • Also, vehicles have been technologically transformed using digital features needed to deliver on company promises to provide a better on-road experience. This has led to the rapid growth of the self-driving market.
  • The search for a car to rent is integrated into tourism and travel bookings. As people search online for vehicles to rent, booking engines offer them highly specific and targeted offers on tours, hotel rooms, and promotions and discounts near the location of booking, to create a better travel experience.
  • In-destination experience is offered to consumers and is at the heart of the self-driving transformation as companies try to create greater experiences for their customers.
  • The widely available smartphones that enable people to perform activities that were preserved for personal computers have propelled the self-driving market. The increased availability of mobility solutions such as demand-oriented internet WiFi connections has enhanced the growth of the industry.



To identify trends that relate to self-driving during travel, our first strategy was to search for relevant information in reputable industry databases and reports. This strategy led us to sources such as Car Target and Grand View Research which provided trends in self-driving. Our second strategy was to evaluate the information to find trends that had been repeated in at least two reputable sources. This strategy provided four trends that were included in our findings.
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Customized Travel and Self-Driving: Media Mentions

Five media mentions of personalized travel and five media mentions of self-driving travel from the last 30 days have been provided below, along with a brief explanation of each. We prioritized mentions that appeared in multiple news outlets, or appeared in a widely-read news outlet.

Personalized Travel

  • Multiple news outlets, including Travel Industry Wire, PR Newswire, and WebWire, have reported on a new agreement between Magnum Travel and Sabre. Magnum Travel stated that its partnership with Sabre will help them provide personalized travel and expand internationally.
  • On October 2nd, Forbes ran a story discussing the current threat to online travel agencies due to the explosive growth of the industry and Google's roll-out of their online travel booking service. In the article, Forbes suggests that OTAs struggling for market share could reinvent themselves as full-service travel agencies offering ultra-personalized travel services.
  • On the 23rd of September, Travel Daily News ran a story about Artificial Intelligence's influence on the travel industry. Among other things, the story noted specifically how AI can help companies customize travel and experiences for customers.
  • The launch of Connected Experience by Airbus made big headlines, including one story on Business Insider on September 13th. The story outlined how Airbus is using an Internet of Things platform on their A350-900 test plane to track customer habits on board, including restroom use, luggage bin use, meal trolleys and seats. The company states that the system will allow for further personalization of the travel experience for passengers.
  • TCG Digital made news in Business Wire on September 10th for their 20th anniversary. The company is celebrated for providing digital solutions to airlines and helping airlines stay relevant through the digital transformation. One current key area for TCG Digital is in providing digital products to help airlines personalize experiences for travelers.

Self-Driving Travel

  • On September 22nd, Frequent Business Traveler posted a story about Citi dropping car rental insurance from their credit card perks. The bank stated that these services were very rarely used.
  • USA Today published an article on September 13th about making the most out of the car rental and how to save money while renting a car. The article recommended AutoSlash, Costco, and Auto Europe as the best places to rent a car.
  • On the 23rd of September, PR Newswire ran an article about Enterprise being awarded an International Best-In-Biz award and being recognized by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation for the company's environmental stewardship.
  • Business Traveller ran a story on September 18th about Lyft's entry into the car rental market. Lyft is testing a car rental service in three cities in California. The service is differentiated from traditional car rental services because of the ride sharing element. When renting the car through Lyft, the company offers a $40 ride-share credit so renters can get to the car pick-up location.
  • Avis made headlines in Globe News Wire for their new promotion "Free Days". The promotion allows customers to earn a free day rental every time they complete two qualifying rentals. This is in order to promote customer loyalty.

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From Part 02
  • "For some car rental companies, this step might be as an alternative to higher oil prices, and for others, it may be a push by the rigorous emission standards that governments are imposing across countries."
  • "Though EVs are often seen as more practical for urban exploration, the addition of chargers along rural routes has brought opportunities to get out on the open road."
  • "First off, rental companies themselves are changing the value prop facing a customer by changing the way bookings are done in tandem with travel."
  • "The tourism vehicle rental market is dominated by North Ameica, followed by Asia-Pacific and Europe. According to the US Travel Association, the number of domestic leisure trips accounted for 1,821.2 million in 2018 and is expected to reach over 1,900 million by 2022."
  • "Introduction of value-for-money car rental services is a trend that is gradually gaining momentum in the industry. Market players are focusing on the introduction of low-cost services, particularly for the leisure market. "