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Travel trends for 2018 from tailor-made travel specialist Audley Travel

Date published: 22/11/2017 Updated: 31/01/2018

Audley’s new destinations for 2018

Northern Peru and the pre-Incan fortress of Kuelap

Audley Travel’s Latin America specialists believe Northern Peru is a destination to watch in 2018. Visiting the country is already that bit easier thanks to BA’s direct flight to Lima which launched this year. Now, a new direct flight within Peru’s borders links Cuzco in the south to the northern city of Trujilo — reducing the travel time for clients who are keen to see the country’s key spots within one trip.

Audley’s top tips for 2018 include Kuelap — the pre-Incan fortress with monumental aspects that are rivalled in size and grandeur only by Machu Picchu and until now attracted 95 per cent domestic visitors. Kuelap is well worth a visit — it is made up of hundreds of round stone houses, formed from millions of cubic feet of stone and it wasn’t re-discovered until 1843. The impressive structure, which is estimated to have taken over 200 years to complete, is now easily accessible by a recently completed cable car meaning the site will soon be on the radar of international visitors.

New ship sailing between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas via Cape Horn

Launching in January is the 200 berth Ventus Australis, sister to the Stella Australis, scheduled to sail itineraries between Ushuaia in Argentina and Punta Arenas in Chile via Cape Horn. These two fantastic itineraries will take clients to the ‘uttermost end of the earth’ on modern expedition cruise ships and allow them to explore places that only around a thousand people visit each year.

Fjords of Tierra del Fuego follows the fjords of the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego showcasing the stunning, natural beauty of Patagonia and includes visits to wildlife rich Ainsworth Bay, Pia Glacier and Glacier Alley, as well as mystical Wulaia Bay and the legendary Cape Horn. Patagonia Explorer calls at Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay before cruising down the Beagle Channel. It will visit several glaciers that guard the southern flank of the Fuegian Archipelago, before entering the legendary Strait of Magellan and finally calling at Isla Magdalena’s penguin colony.

Almost guaranteed sightings of wild elephants in Thailand

New from Audley is a tailor-made trip that ventures off the beaten track to Kui Buri National Park for the best chance to see wild elephants in Thailand. The trip will give clients an exclusive insight into how wild elephants still survive in Thailand. It is a fascinating tour which supports the local community through employment of local people as well as supporting community projects. It gives almost guaranteed sightings of wild elephant and is organised in such a way that human visitors have a minimal impact on the majestic creatures. The experience is a very well-kept secret and Audley is delighted to be able to offer it to its clients in 2018.

Audley’s top tips for 2018

Thanks to developments in transport links, Audley’s specialists’ top tips of places to visit in 2018 include:

Russia - a new high-speed train is launching in 2018 cutting the journey from Moscow to Kazan to three hours. With hotels already booked up during the World Cup (due to be hosted in Russia in June and July), Audley expects an increase in visitors in the following months.

Tibet and Nepal - the Friendship Highway from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal is now open and 2018 will be the first full season that it will have been operational in three years. Audley’s specialists believe this will drive visitors to the region keen to explore both Tibet and Kathmandu in a single trip.

The best of the rest

Rwanda - Audley’s specialists believe Rwanda will challenge Botswana as the luxury destination in Africa in 2018. New high-end safari accommodation includes two One&Only properties as well as a Wilderness Safari lodge which have already seen the destination attract higher net worth individuals (who are not put off by the increase in gorilla permit cost) keen to see these amazing creatures. Rwanda is the ideal destination for a short trip for time poor clients due to the minimal travel distances — either combined with a safari or beach stay elsewhere in East Africa.

USA - New Orleans is top of Audley’s list of US cities to visit in 2018. It will celebrate its tercentenary and the introduction of BA’s direct flight this year has brought more bookings for travel to the city. Audley recommends customers arrange their trips to coincide with the many food, drink and music festivals that the city does so well — especially as many of these are free to attend.

Canada - with a growing focus on Canada, Audley predicts high demand for the bear watching experiences of British Columbia as well as trips to the Rocky Mountains. Its Canada specialists say the beautiful landscapes of Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada are also becoming increasingly popular and advises clients to book early as the wilderness lodges and character B&Bs have limited availability. First Nations experiences are also seeking a spike in interest, with hotels and wildlife watching trips run by First Nations communities as well as fully immersive tours in Quebec and Haida Gwaii on British Columbia’s west coast booking up fast.

Storytelling hotels in Australia - Audley’s Australia specialists report great interest from clients in hotels that really tell the story of the destination. For example, MACq 01 in Hobart, Tasmania opened this July and each room showcases one of five distinct Tasmanian character traits — colourful and quirky, hearty and resilient, curious and creative, grounded yet exceptional and fighting believer. Each of the 114 rooms reflects one of these traits through the furnishings and overall design of the room and also tells the story of a character who brings the chosen trait to life.

Trends in customer behaviour

Trip wish-lists

Across the destinations offered for its tailor-made trips, Audley’s customers are increasingly looking for experiential moments that will give them a great story to tell on their return. Whether this is the sight of an elusive animal on a wildlife tour (important to 64 per cent of Audley clients* — a four per cent increase in three years), the chance to have a unique insight into a local culture through a homestay experience (56 per cent) or taking part in a walk or trek that provides views that take their breath away (54 per cent — an eight per cent increase in three years), the one thing they have in common is that they are experiences that can’t simply be secured by entering credit card details online. They need the expertise of a destination specialist who can design an itinerary to include wildlife spotting at the place and time most likely to deliver the coveted sighting or include the most authentic homestay or cultural experience, rather than those simply staged for tourists.

Booking and researching trips

Audley Travel prides itself on the expert advice and rich information resources it makes available to clients researching trips, but understands that the market is constantly changing and therefore regularly asks its clients how they want to research their trips. Audley’s clients still see a key role for the brochure with 49 per cent of those who either booked or enquired about trips with Audley* saying the brochure is essential or important to their trip research (an additional 35 per cent said it was useful to have). Unsurprisingly, 81 per cent felt the website was essential or important (an additional 13 per cent felt it is useful to have). Almost three quarters (74 per cent) stated that speaking to an expert was essential or important — showing the key role that specialist advisors such as Audley’s team play in helping clients book their tailor-made trip.

Alex Bentley, Head of Product for Audley Travel, said: “2018 is set to be an exciting year to travel with Audley — we have many new and fascinating experiences, tours and itineraries that will let our clients immerse themselves in their destination and its culture. We are continually reviewing our programme and looking for more gems for our clients to enjoy — the new trip to Kui Buri National Park in Thailand to see wild elephants is a great example of this — and we plan to continue to offer more fantastic new experiences to our clients throughout 2018.”

Notes to editors