TORONTO - Escaping the cold temperatures and connecting with family and friends are big travel motivators for Canadians according to new research from MasterCard. The survey found that spending time with family was the most popular motivator (32%) for leisure travel. Nearly a third of Canadians (31%) said they wanted a beach vacation this year, 26 per cent said they were looking for outdoor adventures, and 24 per cent said they are looking to explore new cities in 2015. The research also showed that more than a third of us (35%) plan to spend over $2,000 on travel this year.
With technology making travel easier than ever, it's no wonder it plays such a big role in Canadian travel behaviour. Nick Dinh, MasterCard's Vice President of Mobile Payments, has studied the travel trends and is making bold predictions about the future of travel for Canadians.
Long weekends are for family – crossing the border will be physical and virtual
This Family Day long weekend, 83 per cent of Canadians are staying home (in provinces where it applies). Technology allows Canadians to connect with family and friends with the click of a button, and as use of smartphones, tablets, social media, and technology like Skype increase, crossing borders will be instant.
Canadians are also shopping more from the comfort of their homes. More than of half (56%) of Canadians said shopping for items they can't get at home makes a vacation priceless. With eCommerce use on the rise, Canadians can still buy priceless items from home while skipping lines and shopping securely. Already, eCommerce represents about 6.7 per cent of total retail sales in Canada, up 22.6 per cent over last year. With innovations like MasterPass, it's convenient to shop online straight from your smartphone.
Seamless travel will become the rule, not the exception
Wearable technology will become the next big travel trend as products like the Nymi band make authentication seamless and secure. Using the wearer's unique heartbeat for persistent authentication means Nymi could soon take the place of a traveler's passport.
The days of ordering travelers cheques and foreign currency before you leave home are over. "We expect our payment cards to work wherever we travel, and those with MasterCard cards in their wallet benefit from the largest global acceptance footprint. Credit card and other loyalty programs were also found to be an important part of the travel experience. Accessing exclusive travel experiences through loyalty programs was found to be important to Canadians (36%)."
As mobile payments become widespread, MasterCard users are assured that tapping to pay with a phone will be as easy as tapping plastic, wherever they are. Travelers expect the convenience of cashless payments, so cash-based merchants will miss out on tourist dollars.
Connected destinations will become the most desirable
Whether discovering an exciting city or veering off the beaten track, Canadians still want to know that "it works". 'It' could be smartphones, tablets and wearable technology. But 'it' also applies to transit, hotel stays and online recommendations. The cities, towns and travel destinations that make the most of global technology will attract more travelers. Canadians spend a large portion of their travel budgets on accommodations (34%) and they will expect their hotels to be connected.
With so much of the world available online, and so many options for fun near home, those destinations offering memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences will be sought after by the discerning traveler. Redeeming loyalty program points for travel add-ons – like those found through MasterCard's Priceless Cities program – will become the norm for the average and affluent traveler.