How to Spot the Next ‘On-Trend’​ Destination

Pete Whish | April 1, 2017

Where to go next is a question travellers ask themselves all the time.

It seems that every major publication releases an extensive annual list of new and trendy destinations to visit, but how can you identify a destination that is truly on the cusp of something revolutionary?

There are many factors that contribute to the likelihood of success in terms of the perception of the destination itself. In the simplest form, these factors are often linked to safety, economic stability, the political climate, and social practices. If these basic needs are not met, a destination’s appeal can be difficult to recognize and is often lost on the average traveller.

Looking at past successes is a helpful tool in identifying the next ‘it’ destination. Here we’ve listed a few of our favourite examples of destinations that have recently enjoyed the on-trend spotlight, and offer some (but certainly not all) factors as to why.

Croatia: Price Point

Croatia represents a destination that has shifted perceptions and established itself as a mainstay on travellers’ wish lists. As the country became politically stable, Croatia was then well-situated to develop tourism as a growth industry. One may consider the proximity to major destinations such as Italy and the Mediterranean as a challenge, yet Croatia became a worthy competitor by offering a comparable experience at a far lower price point than its neighbours. Since then, Croatia has continued to transform its reputation to one of rich culture, gastronomy and TV/film sets.

Iceland: Clever Marketing

How a destination positions itself and recognizes its unique selling points is a significant measure of its potential for long-term success. Iceland is a great example of how a clever marketing campaign can aid in the transition from being trendy to being a full-fledged ‘must-see’ destination. A destination’s image can be one of the most influential aspects of market differentiation, and popularity on a global scale. Iceland has achieved this through establishing its brand using innovative marketing campaigns, such as Icelandair’s Stopover Buddy Service. This campaign was a joint effort to promote Iceland’s Europe to North America routes by offering to pair visitors up with a local (an Icelandair employee), who would show them Iceland through their eyes. The campaign is a simple concept but has gained major traction and international recognition piggybacking on the popularity of local experiences.

Denmark: Capitalizing on Authentic Experiences

Another key factor to a destination’s success is its ability to effectively convey its culture and traditions to visitors. Prior to deciding on a destination, travellers often consider an interactive experience, as well as the ability to immerse themselves into the local culture, a must.

One of the most effective ways to deliver an authentic experience is through food. A destination’s culinary identity not only offers a glimpse into the past, but it can also be used as the cornerstone to developing interest on a global scale. Think of this as the ‘NOMA Effect’. After holding the title of the ‘World’s Best Restaurant’ in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, NOMA has had a huge impact on the number of visitors to Copenhagen, and general awareness of Denmark. The Danish Board of Tourism has used the success of NOMA as a springboard to lay the groundwork for long-term success in tourism. Denmark has now established itself as a major destination with a reputation for art, design, quality of life and the home of hygge.

What’s Next? Our Prediction

So, the question remains – where to go next? I will stick my neck out and make a prediction…The Azores! The Azores is an isolated archipelago made of nine islands located in the mid-Atlantic. This autonomous region of Portugal has the potential to be one of the next on-trend destinations with its unique culture, amazing food, natural beauty, and ease of access. The Azores has world-class whale watching, hiking amid lush, green mountains, and rugged coastlines, unbeatable street festivals, and offers direct flights from North America. All for a wallet-friendly price point! How’s that for your next ultimate hotspot destination?

Historically, the Azorean economy was based on hunting whales, as their unique geographic location is set along the migration path of nearly one-third of all whale and dolphin species. As the whaling industry’s restrictions grew, the Azores recognized the opportunity to shift their focus towards a more sustainable model – showcasing whales – using the infrastructure already in place. This shift allowed the Azores to create a unique selling proposition (USP) for the destination. Whale-watching in the Azores represents an authentic experience that allows visitors a link to the Azorean past while simultaneously boasting one their strongest tourism draws.

The Azores are currently in an important phase of their development as a destination, as generally speaking, the average traveller does not hold a significant preconceived view about the islands. As a result, the Azores can use imaginative marketing campaigns, similar to that of Iceland and Icelandair, to establish their brand and create a first impression for the average traveller.

Whether you are a passport-stamp-collecting travel junkie, a hotel snob, bleisure enthusiast, or simply planning your annual trip with friends and family, the quest to find the latest hotspot can be daunting. To aid in this decision, you may need to look beyond the latest ‘it list’ to seek out a truly authentic experience.  

Want to learn more about travel trends and the world’s top tour operators and destinations? Get in touch with Pete at pete@bannikin.com.