6 travel topics to jumpstart any holiday conversation

shutterstock_333685862The holidays are here, the time of year when we gather for family reunions, company parties, and fun with friends. Are you in need of a few good conversation starters at this year’s office bash, pot-luck, or New Year’s blowout?

Look no further than the travel industry for inspiration! These topics come from Euromonitor’s World Travel Market Global Trends Report 2015, an annual compilation of global trends to watch in the coming year. The questions that follow are sure to stimulate good dialogue – and elevate your status to the inspired conversationalist we always knew you’d be!

1. Have you heard about the new American Dream?

The new American Dream is about working less and playing more. The old mind-set, “Anyone can prosper if they work hard enough,” often results in workplace burnout and productivity loss. Expedia’s 2015 Vacation Deprivation Study shows that 53 percent of Americans feel “very or somewhat” vacation deprived, never taking the full vacation time allotted.

Companies like LinkedIn, Netflix, and Virgin Group are reversing the trend by implementing a policy that allows employees to take off as much time as they want. With a few guidelines in place, employees rarely abuse the policy. Shifting the old paradigm could be a win-win for the travel industry, with employers and employees enjoying greater work-life balance and improved productivity.

2. Where would you choose to take a “hipster holiday?”

Young, hip travelers are gravitating to alternative pockets of major cities, stimulating new tourism opportunities outside traditional urban centers. Visitors are flocking to trendy districts like Villa Crespo in Buenos Aires, Beyoglu in Istanbul, Kreuzberg in Berlin, Dalston in London, Shimokitazawa in Tokyo – and Havana, Cuba and Portland, Oregon – to experience new restaurants and cafes, eclectic shops and art galleries.

To boost the conversation as you’re waiting in the buffet line, ask your friends about their favorite major cities – and the nearby “hipster districts” they’ve visited.

3. Which Middle Eastern country rocks nearly 20 ski areas?

According to Amadeus’ Shaping the Future of Travel report, across the Middle East, hotels and air bookings continue to grow, despite ongoing security and safety issues. Sanctions recently lifted against Iran have sparked a scramble to open the country to international visitors. Attractions include ancient Persian culture and history, adventure tourism, 19 World Heritage sites, and nearly 20 ski resorts. And if you really want to experience the local culture, rent a room at an Iranian’s home; an estimated 50,000 Iranian hosts are registered on Couchsurfing.com. 

4. What’s so cool about crowdsourced hotels?

Interesting, fun, and engaging, crowdsourced hotels bring people together around shared ideas, passions, and values. As a result, luxury hotels are turning to crowdsourcing (gathering knowledge and ideas online) and crowdfunding (raising or investing money online) to finance properties, versus relying on traditional investment sources.

Marriott has used digital crowdsourcing to create brand innovations like healthy vending machines and towel design. Prodigy Network, a real estate crowdfunding firm, plans to create a 194-unit space for short- and long-term hotel rooms, known as “cotels,” in downtown New York.

Around the punch bowl, find a Disney, Margaritaville, Mercedes-Benz or other brand aficionado, and ask the question, “If you could crowdsource a new hotel, what would it be?”

5. Can I call Uber in China? Will driverless cars rule the roads someday?

The sharing economy is taking off in China, with the rise of new local players, a trend boosted by Chinese millennials. According to Uber, about 30 percent of trips on its ride-sharing app now take place in China. Uber lags behind ride-hailing competitor Didi Kuaidi.

Uber is also in a technological race with Google, Apple, and Tesla to build robotic driverless cars that may one day form the basis of urban transportation. Over dessert, ask your Uncle Henry, “When you retire in 2025, do you plan to sell your Toyota Prius and start using a driverless car service?” (Be sure to pick up the crème brulee if his plate accidentally falls to the floor.)

6. Which traveler tribe do you belong to?

Still stumped for a topic to chat about? Amadeus has published Future Traveler Tribes 2030, a study that reveals six distinct traveler tribes, each with a unique set of values, behaviors, and needs. Pull out your smartphones, invite your fellow party-goers to take the short questionnaire, and learn which traveler tribes they belong to. When all else fails, this topic is sure to keep the conversation hopping – we promise!


Tell us some of the ways you spark holiday conversation!


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