They’re the driving force behind STA Travel, leading our UK team of experts from the front, to make sure you get the best service possible. They’re passionate about what they do, and no one knows more about travelling the world than them (except maybe David Attenborough).
With that in mind, I thought it would be nice to share their thoughts about the past year in travel with you. I’ve gone to 16 of our store managers from around the UK and asked them to give me a brief and general insight of a travel trend they have noticed in 2012.
Have a read, digest it, and have a think about what these insights could mean to you as a traveller, or potential traveller. Has this inside knowledge made you think about making any amendments your own travel plans? Maybe they’ve managed to make you even more excited than you were already?
What Travel trends have our store managers noticed this year?
Hayley Barnett, STA Travel Canterbury
Hayley Barnett, STA Travel Canterbury
We have seen a big increase in Round the World trips for people over 30 – with the job market being so tough and it being harder and harder to get on the property ladder couples and groups of friends and putting those hard earned savings to good use and taking a late gap year.
These passengers tend to be more adventurous and know the value of a well organised trip so we are getting lots of books for amazing trips like climbing Kilimanajro and exploring the Galapagos.
Theon Pearce, STA Travel Brighton
As ever Australia and Asia remain dominant destinations of choice amongst Brighton’s customers. During 2012 New Zealand has started to become a ‘destination’ rather than a ‘stopover’ on people’s itineraries with stays getting longer and now averaging around a month.
We’ve also seen an increase in the uptake of customers wanting to stop and work there. Another popular destination this year has been South America, with the Inca Trail being the must see/do activity at the top of many people’s lists.
Ben Hendry, STA Travel Portsmouth
Australia work visas have gone through the roof this year which I relate to the fact it’s now more accessible than ever, friends of people who have done it want the same experience and the offers that we have run seem to have given people that final push.
Claire Smith, STA Travel Warwick
We have seen an increase in ‘adult gaps’ this year. Single travellers and couples taking an extended break from work to either travel round the world or spend quality time exploring one destination.
I think it is down to companies being more open to the idea of career breaks or extended leave for their staff. This is giving people who might have missed the chance to take a gap year previously, or are usually used to only taking two weeks off, the opportunity to have their experience now.
Emma Loades, STA Travel Exeter
We have seen an increase of 18 to 31’s booking one way flights to Australia with their Working Holiday visa. Due to the current financial climate, more and more young travellers are still wanting to have a year out or a break from their careers but are finding it harder to save before they go, so a working holiday is a great choice for them.
Most are also using the “free” stopovers in Asia option as this is their cheapest option to have a bit of a holiday before arriving rather than going straight there.
Jemma Rigby, STA Travel Liverpool
We have seen an increase in volunteering and language bookings in 2012. From teaching children in Cambodia to volunteering at the Kingdom of the White Lion in South Africa. 2 of our customers even feature in our new Volunteer brochure!
A lot more people are open to the idea of something different and unique. It’s a bonus that you can now volunteer for a short amount of time (1 week) rather than the traditional couple of months.
Our new volunteering experiences have given opportunities to many that, in the past, weren’t lucky enough to have a spare couple of months to volunteer. It’s something a lot of people do want to do, but it’s just having the time. No excuses now!
Karen Buckley, STA Travel Guildford
Brazil has seemed to become much more popular this year than I have seen before this could be because people want to explore some of the Latin culture, and get into the more remote areas such as Salvador and Manaus.
It provides a variety of sceneries; from gorgeous beaches and the Carnival in Salvador to Manaus’ unspoilt Amazon; which is much less crowded compared to Puerto Maldonado in Peru or Pantanal.
We have found that our customers are being attracted to start their trip in Ecuador and end in Brazil, to potentially see the most popular countries in South America and end on the gorgeous beaches of Brazil before heading to the cold weather in the UK.
Laura Hughes, STA Travel Reading
We have seen a massive growth on travellers to Australia with a majority getting their Australia Working holiday visas. For us, it seems more travellers are going down the Working holiday visa route rather than booking tours.
Adam Thomas Assistant Manager STA Travel Victoria
We have seen an increase in number of travellers and enquiries to Myanmar.
The military have ruled the country for the past 50 years but in recent years they have loosened their grip on the government which has lead to an increased number of tourists.
My advice would be to travel there now before McDonald’s and other corporate enterprises do!
Will Chapman, STA Travel Cambridge
2012 saw many of our customers unpacking their dancing shoes ready for Full Moon parties on the Thai Islands and packing their trekking boots before heading over to South America instead.
Asia was as popular as ever but more and more people wanted the ‘adventure’ of Latin America and decided to go for Carnival and trekking across this huge continent than chilling on Thai Beaches and dancing under a Full Moon.
Peter Belby, STA Travel Cardiff
There’s been a big increase in people travelling out to Australia with working holiday visa’s and one way tickets, everyone’s knows there’s a chance of a 2nd year visa, and it makes their initial flight cheaper and even more flexible on what they do on the way home.
I guess everyone knows the sun shines a whole lot more in New South Wales than it does in old South Wales! Plus the exchange rates make working to save, and spend, the money they have earned in other countries much easier.
Laura MacLeay, STA Travel Glasgow Byres Road
This year has seen those destinations that in the past have been reserved for the more “well-trodden” traveller reach out to those less-experienced. South Korea, Sri Lanka and China which are destinations filled with a plethora of culture and colours, vast extremities and open smiles yet previous political issues have deterred some from choosing to embrace all that they have to offer.
We’ve seen people from all walks of life buy their ticket and board that plane to experience the pretty, picturesque beaches of the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka. Take time out of their travels to volunteer with the giant pandas in Chengdu, encouraged by the after effects of the 2008 Olympics to scope out all that China has to offer.
The reasons behind this shift are difficult to pinpoint but the global platform that the Olympics gave to China is an obvious one, the calming political situation in South Korea and the quietening of the military in Sri Lanka are not ones that should be ruled out.
Vanessa Lewis, STA Travel Clapham
South America is an ever increasing destination in terms of enquiries. It is such a diverse continent with so much to see and do and where one can really get off the beaten track.
Machu Picchu remains as popular as ever and more travellers are enquiring about the other treks and not just looking to do the Inca Trail. Both the Salkantey and Lares Trek are amazing and great value for money and you are pretty much always guaranteed to get a place if booking it at the last minute.
Though the majority of customers are looking to do adventure tours around South America, many are looking for more independent travel therefore the Bamba bus is a perfect way to hop on and off around the many countries and with Colombia being added next year, this is going to be a fantastic product in the year ahead.
Adam Mark Bernard, STA Travel York
I’ve noticed that people who are doing big Round The World trips are trying to fit more countries into a shorter time, rather than spending more time exploring fewer countries.
This could be because they are trying to do as much as they can on the one trip or aren’t getting a sense of adventure for discovering that ‘off the beaten track’ place that only a handful of other backpackers have previously visited (which could be because those places are becoming few and far between and harder to find).
Natalie James, STA Travel Manchester Deansgate and Oxford Road
Across the two stores in Manchester we have seen a big increase on our South America enquiries and bookings over 2012. We think it is because it is becoming a lot more accessible with flight prices reducing.
We have a lot more products to offer and Latin America offers something different to the more commonly visited Southeast Asia and it’s got something for everyone; beaches, trekking, rainforest, plus amazing culture, wildlife and people. I am sure the trend will continue with the World Cup heading to Rio!
Sonja Wright, STA Travel Bristol
We have seen an increase in people travelling to South America, especially those who have already done an Asia or Australia trip in the past. Peru and the Inca Trail are the most popular places by far.
Holly Spanton, STA Travel Norwich
We have definitely seen an increase in the number of honeymoon bookers. It is becoming increasingly popular to celebrate honeymoons by doing something adventurous, creating a really unique experience to share together.
We’ve seen honeymooners travel through India and Nepal, trek in Borneo and even volunteer in South Africa and Asia as well as planning any number of multi-stop itineraries.