2022 Travel & Tourism Trends
The Travel and Tourism Industry has adapted to a lot these last two years. Expedia’s 2021 Q3 Travel Recovery Trend Report highlights the latest insights for the travel industry and our expertise provides an outlook for the future.
Testing, Quarantine Rules, Border Closures, Oh My …
What’s more difficult to keep up with than the Kardashians? You guessed it, travel rules and regulations. Between the varying testing requirements, quarantine rules, border closures, and variants, it has certainly become a full time job keeping track of all the variables affecting the travel and tourism industry, and its consumers. The trends in the travel industry have changed just as quickly as the rules have, and therefore need to be assessed on a regular basis. Since the start of 2021 Expedia began to release quarterly reports providing insight on consumer habits and preferences. Their latest report 2021 Q3 Travel Recovery Trend Report exposes the newest trends, some of which emerging as a result of the Delta variant. For your viewing pleasure, please find our predictions for 2022 travel and tourism trends, along with a summary of the Expedia report below.
As mentioned above, there are many variables that are affecting the travel industry as a result of the pandemic. Although there are some factors we may not be able to predict, our experience working with clients in the industry allows us to provide some insight into what to expect this coming year:
Demand for Flexibility
Social Media Remains a Main Source of Travel Influence
Emphasis on Wellness
1 - Workations
Remote work is here to stay. Many companies have decided to become permanently remote and those planning to return to the office have put those plans on pause as a result of new variants. Remote work gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere, and those that can take advantage of that flexibility will do so through a workation. Workations are a great way for consumers to escape the boundaries of their home office and explore a new destination without using any PTO. According to a survey conducted by American Express; 52% of those surveyed in the United States said they are interested in planning a longer trip to experience a destination while working remotely. Destinations and hotels that make it possible for the growing segment of digital nomads to work from their location can capitalize on this opportunity for longer trips to their destinations.
2 - Demand for Flexibility
The unpredictability of the pandemic has caused consumers to require flexibility when making travel plans. Although we are seeing an increase in travel searches, there is still some reluctance to travel as the Omicron variant is reported to be most contagious. According to Squaremouth, sales of travel insurance jumped 53% following the announcement of Omicron. Making travel convenient and flexible for your consumer will be essential in continuing to create a positive business impact for your brand. Understanding your audience and communicating with them through a strong digital infrastructure is essential to providing them with the flexibility they desire.
3 - Social Media Remains a Main Source of Travel Influence
As the amount of social media users increases daily, so will its influence. Recent research by Motel 6 revealed that “Americans spent 176 hours scrolling through social media for travel inspiration this year”. This should come to no surprise, as users are always scrolling and looking to influencers for new destinations and experiences to spice up their profiles. Social media continues to grow both in features and in user base. With new channels, like the metaverse, emerging, there will be a countless number of ways to inspire users to visit your destination. The key is to understand your audience, which channels they are using, and meet them there with a message that shows you truly understand their needs and ideologies.
4 - Emphasis on Wellness
After the last two years we have had, consumers are now prioritizing their wellness and mental health more than ever. That will also be reflected in the way they travel, as more people will opt for slower, relaxed, and longer trips in one destination vs. rushing around to see multiple destinations in one trip. Mintel research noted that half of consumers planning to travel would like for their trip to be more relaxing than it was before the pandemic. It will be important for brands to aid their audience in achieving their goal of “wellness travel” through flexibility and convenience. Wellness travel can come in many forms, so understanding what is of interest to your target audience will be key in creating a winning strategy.
5 - Prioritizing Sustainability
Sustainability is a trending topic in all industries, and the travel and tourism industry is no exception. 68% of consumers stated they were trying to be more aware of sustainable travel brands to support. In addition to that, research from booking.com revealed that 81% of travelers said they wanted to stay in a sustainable accommodation. There are many ways brands can incorporate a sustainability strategy into their everyday processes. As more consumers become aware and educated on sustainability, they will expect transparency from brands and hold them accountable to their claims. Recognizing how your audience perceives sustainability will assist in implementing the proper practices. There is no denying that the importance of sustainability will continue to grow in the coming years and will be a vital aspect in maintaining and growing your brand.
The travel and tourism industry has come a long way since “the year that shall not be named”, 2020, and Expeida’s 2021 Q3 Travel Recovery Trend Report reveals the latest insights.
Global Travel Searches Remain Steady
Travel Searches Falling Within Shorter Timeframe
Increased Demand for City Destinations
Travelers Making Early Holiday Plans
Increase in Business Travel
Although it has certainly begun to recover, the industry is still affected by a number of factors on a daily basis. In Q2, as vaccines began to be administered and borders reopened, Expedia reported a spike in travel searches globally.
1 - Although in Q3 there was an increase in travel restrictions resulting from the rise of the Delta variant, the number of travel searches globally remained steady.
Some slight dips in search volume were more so noticeable in areas like North America, however the overall trend indicates that people are still anxious and ready to travel.
A significant trend that changed quarter-over-quarter was the length of time in which people were booking their travel.
2 - “…nearly 70% of global searches fell within the 0- to 30–day search window”
This indicates that travelers are making more last minute trips, which one can figure is because of the volatility of restrictions and where consumers are able to actually travel to. Although some regions saw a lengthening search window for domestic travel, most searches, including those in North America, fell within a shorter window of 0-21 days. Another trend that emerged from Expedia’s report is the
3 - increased popularity of city destinations.
(image courtesy of Expedia)
This trend is different from those at the beginning of the year, which indicated that travelers were still flocking to areas with fewer people and more space. In addition to the increase in bookings of city destinations, hotels also saw an increase in demand of “5% quarter-over-quarter when compared to vacation rental properties”.
A constant trend throughout 2021 has been consumers' goal to make up for lost time with their loved ones. Expedia’s data supports this trend as well as revealed that
4 - people are making their holiday plans earlier, and for longer periods of time.
Additionally, the report revealed that warmer destinations like Hawaii, Mexico and Florida have been especially popular destinations for the months of November and December. Lastly, for regions that have begun to reopen offices and hold in person events, the report's findings reveal that business travel bookings are restarting.
5 - In North America, business travel was up 40% in Q3 vs Q2, which was also the average globally.
That is not to say that business travel is back to its pre-pandemic levels, but it has certainly picked up from where it was during the first half of the year. As we are now near the end of 2021, it will be interesting to see what trends are revealed in Expedia’s Q4 report. In the meantime, we are looking ahead and using our expertise to predict the trends of 2022 in the travel and tourism industry.
As conditions continue to change regularly for the travel and tourism industry, brands will have to be ready to adapt to any circumstances. I think we can all agree that we are ready to get back out and enjoy the world, and Expedia’s report is proof of that sentiment. As consumers begin to venture out, companies will need to truly understand the needs of their consumer to properly be able to serve them. Our 2022 predictions are just a small insight into the future of the industry. If you are a brand in the travel and tourism industry looking to create real business impact, we would love to help!