– Guest post by Lorenzo Gonzalez – Before the end of last year, I wrote an article naming six travel trends that are going to be important in 2015. I did this in hope that Belize tourism stakeholders would exploit them for the New Year but after visiting in January I realized that there are a few more things I should add to that list. If you weren’t interested in clicking above, here’s a recap of my original article: I mentioned that small businesses will be favored over large ones, authentic eating experiences will tromp fancy restaurants, demand for food tours will increase, offering free WI-FI is no longer a luxury but a must, requests for vacation rentals will continue to rise, and local travel is getting more popular. ß
1. Active Tours
Having a healthy lifestyle has always been important but it’s never been as trendy as it is now. Just see your friends Facebook updates and you’ll see pictures of them lifting weights and doing all sorts of workouts at the gym. Couples are now skipping the honeymoon retreats and having adventure-moons. Exploring and discovering unique aspects of the destination is on the top of their list. Tour operators need to find ways of combining sightseeing with biking opportunities. Something as simple as the free bikes that Chabil Mar Villas offers to its guests to go explore Placencia makes a big difference.
2014 was the year of mass mobile adaptation and in 2015 it will increase even more. Smartphones and tablets are becoming better and cheaper to own. Nowadays every adult and most kids over 12 own a smartphone and every family has at least one tablet. Tourism providers that aren’t mobile compatible will be missing out in this trend that is here to stay.
3. Boutique Hotels and Restaurants
People want to stay somewhere interesting. A place needs to have character or history and it’s a plus if it has both. It all starts with design, a hotel or restaurant needs to invest in unique art, be creative, have cool architecture and be welcoming. I had dinner with Mara Jernigan at Ka’ana Resort and I noticed that they have steadily kept improving the aesthetics of their restaurant. It is very rustic chic and that attracts affluent travellers, which of course is their target market.
Marketers have been saying it for years and now it’s never been more evident: people prefer video to reading. Have you noticed how popular vines and other funny video clips are on Facebook? They are short, sweet and easy to digest. Consumers are lazy and want as much information as quickly as possible. If you want to sell a tour, make a video showcasing what all it entails and you will notice easier bookings.
5. Craft is King
Local and handmade items have always been popular but for it to stand out, people are now demanding better value. Belizean talent needs to be better promoted and quality standards must be adhered to. Take for example arts and crafts made by Inga Woods, it is easy to notice the quality and fineness of her products. Other examples are creatively designed MayaBags that have been featured in Vogue, exquisite Kakaw Belizean chocolate and the new Tiburon Rum that is being advertised as small batch premium crafted rum. Belikin Beer has started to do seasonal drinks, I don’t like lagers but the sorrel stout is great.
Cayo Farmers Market Food Scene