JWT’s travel, tourism trends for 2012

Marketing and advertising agency JWT, New York City, has released its trend report for 2012. Among its things to watch in travel and tourism: uber-affordable garden camping, traveling to Myanmar or Zimbabwe, insta-cations, social seating and women-only hotel floors.

Here is a recap of some of the travel trends JWT believes are worth watching:

Connected car services

No more frantic arms in the air to flag a cab. Open up Uber’s app, and a car will be dispatched. A startup, Uber operates in Paris and several U.S. cities, and plans to expand in 2012.

Digital-into-physical postcards

Sincerely’s Postagram apps and Postcard on the Run allow vacationers and others to turn snapshots into snail-mailed postcards.

Women-only floors

With more women traveling solo, many for business, hotels from Vancouver and Copenhagen to Singapore and London are reviving women-only floors. These offer more security and add room amenities like fashion magazines, hair tools and additional hangers. Some hotels also provide female room attendants and tables for solo female diners, as well as networking events.

Garden camping

Watch for a new idea from the U.K. to expand beyond Britain: an uber-affordable take on AirBnb, lets people rent their back yards to travelers. The London Olympics will heighten awareness.


Consumers will opt for quick, affordable bursts of fun in lieu of longer excursions. People will seek unusual one-off experiences and mini-vacations they’ve been finding on deal sites, the more novel and adventurous the better.


With diplomatic relations with the rest of the world thawing, this lightly visited realm of Buddhist temples and pagodas will become more attractive to Western travelers. Abercrombie & Kent has created three high-end programs for 2012.

Real-time translation

App creators are looking for new ways to break through language barriers with software that translates two-way conversations in near-real time. Vocre is a new app that translates what each speaker is saying (so far it can handle nine languages), and Sakhr offers an app that does the same for Arabic.

P-to-P experiences

New tools allow travelers to find niche experiences and the locals who can provide them. A crop of peer-to-peer startups offering unique and often personalized activities and tours are aiming to change the way travelers plan trips. The sites enable experts to offer an eclectic mix of opportunities, from introducing travelers to Berlin’s famed currywurst sausage (via Vayable) to walking them through New York’s Central Park with a wilderness instructor (via SideTour). Shiroube, out of Japan (the name means “to be a guide”), is a platform to connect guides and travelers looking for customized tours.

Smarter check-ins

Forward-thinking hotels and airlines are using RFID and NFC, combined with customer phones, to smooth and speed up the experience. Starwood’s Aloft and Aria in Las Vegas issue RFID loyalty cards that double as room keys (the Aria card also automatically activates in-room amenities, turns on lights, opens curtains and personalizes the TV). Hotels are also enabling guests to use NFC-equipped smartphones as room keys.

Social seating

Watch for more booking agents to overlay the social graph, asking users to sign in with their social media accounts for the opportunity to hand-pick desirable seating arrangements.

A Titanic anniversary

The 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, on April 15, will be marked with titanic goings-on. Titanic Belfast will open in Ireland (“the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience”), a cruise ship operated by Fred Olsen Cruises circling the spot where the ship went down.

VIP treatment

As the middle market shrinks in the developed world, more brands will find ways to provide special service to customers with the means or the motivation to spend. VIP treatment is becoming common at amusement parks, for example, with special access passes allowing purchasers to skip long lines. Independent airport lounges provide a little extra comfort to travelers with an extra US$15 to US$50 to spend.


Tourists stopped coming to Zimbabwe — home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls (which straddle the border with Zambia), and some of Africa’s best game parks — as the country descended into political and economic chaos over the last decade. The economy is stabilizing, and as more tour operators resume Zimbabwe tours, travelers are on the uptick.