I've just returned from a whirlwind week in London at World Travel Market, the premier global event for travel industry professionals to network and connect.
It's a place to meet old and new partners, attend seminars on the latest trends in travel, and find new and exciting travel experiences from all over the world.
As for trends, there was a lot of talk about wellness travel, a travel segment that is growing at more than double the rate of the rest of the industry.
As a result of the growth in demand, there are many new wellness experiences becoming available all over the globe, often related to or developed from unique traditional practices that go back generations. We'll dive into this subject further in the coming weeks.
Other trends include the shrinking of group sizes, in line with Euromonitor's proclamation that 'experience is the new luxury'.
Travellers are looking for experiences that go beyond the ordinary, and people are fast losing interest in cookie-cutter, generalized experiences, or whistle-stop tours that leave little time to actually soak in the essence of a destination.
This was expressed in a number of seminars, and came up again and again in conversations with tour operators and local suppliers from all over the world.
Not much to say there other than I completely agree! And that it aligns with the philosophy behind how we put together programs at Wheel & Anchor.
Upcoming Travel Experiences at Wheel & Anchor
Speaking of programs, Joel and I spent the entire plane trip over there poring over our member questionnaires and plotting a path through the regions and countries you told us you were interested in visiting. Thanks to all those who contributed their thoughts, dreams, and ideas!
With over 5,000 exhibitors and over 50,000 industry professionals, the scale of the show is staggering, and it's literally impossible to cover them all in a few days.
The same goes for sharing our findings with you, so I'll break it into a few parts. Here's a brief overview of some of the programs Wheel & Anchor will be developing for 2020-2021.
Australia / New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are high on the list for many of our members, and we'll be putting together a really great program together for
Going that far necessitates a longer trip, say 21-24 days, and we'll prepare a number of optional extensions for those who want to maximize their opportunity to explore Oceania.
Many of you indicated that France is a destination that warrants more time visiting, and we'll be putting together a number of programs there for 2020 and 2021.
I'm looking forward to debuting our new gastronomy-focused category of programs, Wheel & Anchor Taste. It goes without saying that France will be among the first places we visit to explore their rich culinary and wine-making traditions.
One of those tours will be to the Burgundy region in east-central France, a region with classic French countryside landscapes and some of the country's most well-known gastronomical contributions. We'll see a medieval castle being built by hand, and taking some time to just enjoy one of France's most charming regions.
We'll also be putting together several programs in the beautiful Loire Valley, where you'll find France's most picturesque chateaus and some of her finest white wine. At least one will include a cruise program on a modern paddlewheel vessel, and all will feature indulgence in the region's mouth-watering culinary offerings.
I had a chance to catch up with our partners Albatross Expeditions, who we've collaborated with to put together our tour of Greenland and Iceland next August. They were excited to tell me about a brand new expedition ship they'll be sailing to Antarctica in 2021, a hybrid vessel outfitted with cutting-edge environmental and expedition technology.
I've been to Antarctica three times, and the experience is no less majestic each time. Many of you mentioned a desire to see the frozen continent before the impacts of global warming get any worse, and this will be an unforgettable opportunity. Look out for this program in 2021.
Lots of interesting ideas for visiting Scotland, and we'll be rolling out several different types of tours there, including some Active programs with hiking in the Scottish Highlands, as well as a longer tour covering her cities, highlands, isles, and undoubtedly a few distilleries along the way.
Scotland has been investing a lot in developing infrastructure away from the traditional tourist spots, and putting a lot of emphasis on developing experiences that really capture Scottish lifestyle and culture.
They're seeing a resurgence in traditional music, largely driven by young people, as well as a lot of growth in food and culinary experiences.
We'll also be doing a cruise program, so stay tuned for details if Scotland is on your list!
We'll be rolling out new programs and categories in the coming weeks on our Tours page, and in our newsletter.
Stay tuned for more next week, including programs to Ireland, England, the Baltics, South Africa, and more!