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International Medical Travel Journal: News

GLOBAL: Under 30s mix business and holiday travel – and buy using social media

A new report on modern travellers suggests that medical tourism may have to rethink some fundamental issues.

Within medical tourism are two competing views- one that says the industry should promote medical travel as a stand alone .The other older view says that medical travel should be promoted as medical tourism with medical care and tourism combined. Neither suggests medical travel should be combined with business travel.

A major new report shows that many younger travellers now mix business and tourist travel – by adding personal time to business trips or just combining the two. This will cause problems in national and international travel statistics that tend to separate business and holiday travel numbers. It will also mean that medical tourism may need to rethink how it markets to younger professional people-particularly when promoting the softer health and wellness end of the market. The industry may also have to move to selling mainly via mobile devices.

In the 1990s, Expedia turned the travel industry on its head by unlocking travel agent information and bringing it to the mass market. Expedia has turned its attention how to meet the needs of future travelers who increasingly book leisure and business travel by social media and combine the two types of travel.

A new report from Expedia ‘Future of Travel’ sees the traveller of tomorrow operating in an ever more fluid space, a world of blurred boundaries. They expect to move seamlessly from device-to-device; from online to offline and back again; from business to leisure and vice versa. Mobile is their personal assistant helping them to plan and book travel; change plans, especially in business travel; connect with friends and colleagues. Their office may be on the plane, at the airport or in a hotel room, and Wi-Fi is more important than extra legroom or upgrades.

Their priority is to cut through the clutter, preferring brands and services, which save them time, and ones that make life and life on the road easier and more enjoyable.

Whether hailing from developed or emerging markets, Millennials – those currently under 30– have grown up in the world of mobile devices, the internet and social media. They have higher trust in the internet but also higher expectations about how sites and apps will deliver great personal experiences using that information and the speed at which that should happen. The Millennial generation expects to be in control and make their own decisions. For this generation, technology, particularly mobile is their personal assistant. Expedia research shows that Millennials are planning and booking travel using their smartphones more than any other group.

Travel providers – and medical tourism providers – will have to be fully enabled through any platform, knowing that buyers interface, interact and navigate through different devices in very different ways. For independent or smaller businesses this represents a significant technological challenge and investment.

Millennials have grown up in a world of working from remote locations and on the move so when it comes to business travel they are equally comfortable with blurred boundaries.

54% of employees have extended a business trip into a holiday. Millennials are more likely to extend their work trips to turn them into personal trips – and are twice as likely to do so when travelling alone than their counterparts over 45.

Expedia sees a new a wave of travellers where the future of travel is to delight all customers as they plan their next vacation or business trip-which is personal and collaborative, fluid and flexible, and of course mobile.
Medical tourism news20 November 2013

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