2022 is the year of reunions! After nearly two years in hibernation due to COVID-19, travel is making a comeback. People are becoming more comfortable in public spaces and they’re more appreciative than ever to experience new places with loved ones.
While travel plans are steadily increasing, consumers are also traveling differently than they did before. We’ve compiled a list of five consumer trends that will shape travel for 2022.
- Consumers Are Spending More for Spectacular Experiences
In 2022, consumers will play catch-up. They’ve been cooped up in their houses and now they want to make up for all that lost time. Instead of planning regular trips, there’s been an increase in searches for “epic destinations and experiences.” Bookings to cities near Machu Pichu are up almost 50%!
The pandemic was an opportunity for self-reflection for many people. There’s a renewed sense that life is precious and consumers want to maximize every minute of it. The 2022 Travel Trends report from Abta revealed 46% of consumers expect to spend more money on vacations next year, which is a 29% increase from 2020. Abta is seeing people upgrade from three to four-star hotels and extending their vacations longer.
- Consumers Care More About The Community
Although consumers didn’t spend as much physical time together during the pandemic, the crisis increased empathy and strengthened community ties. In a recent QuickBooks survey, 93% of shoppers said supporting small businesses is more important than ever because of the pandemic. This trend carries through when traveling.
In a new Booking.com survey of 24,000 travelers, 67% of respondents said they want the money they spend traveling to go to the local community. Similarly, 68% of travelers want to have authentic experiences representative of the local culture.
- Consumers Are Prioritizing Their Mental & Physical Wellbeing
The events of the past two years highlighted the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other. There was a widespread increase in depression, stress and other mental health issues. Consumers adapted their lifestyles to incorporate more healthy foods, physical fitness and mindfulness practices.
Many travelers will look to integrate self-care practices like nature, fitness classes, spa treatments and nutrition into their vacations. While some travelers may not include these activities, mental health may still be a primary motivator for their travel. In the same Booking.com survey, almost 75% of people responded that travel improves their mental and emotional wellbeing more than any other form of rest and relaxation.
- Consumers Expect Flexibility and Convenience
Consumers got used to events being moved and canceled throughout the pandemic. While there’s still so much uncertainty around changing regulations, the flexibility to alter bookings is essential for many travelers. 85% of travel marketers agree offering flexible cancellations will be important this year, according to a Google/Savanta survey.
Consumers also became accustomed to conveniences like home delivery of groceries and living room digital workouts during the pandemic. Travelers will be searching for these same luxuries turned conveniences on their trips, along with contactless payments and digital check-ins.
- Consumers Consume More Digital Media Than Ever
House-bound for months at a time, consumers took to social media and video streaming to occupy their time. Interestingly, this consumption seems to have had an impact on consumers’ travel choices. It’s a trend that travel technology company, Amadeus, has coined as “wanderlust streaming.”
In 2020, the town of Porthgwarra saw 50% more tourists due to the show Poldark, which was partially filmed there. Flights to the city of Petra, which is well known for its tombs and temples from the Indian Jones films, are up 22%. In line with these statistics, new research suggests the most popular destination searches are Hollywood-inspired travel fantasies. Searches for Tanzania, where travelers can see the Big Five most impressive safari animals, are up 36%. Hiking Mount Everest and visiting the Egyptian Pyramids were also among the top search results.
So, how can destinations capitalize on these trends to attract more visitors? Here are the key takeaways to implement for 2022.
- Market once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Whether it’s taking a helicopter ride over the city or discovering wild animals on a nature tour, consumers want to be wowed and they’re willing to pay for it. Publicize the coolest experiences offered in your area.
- Advertise local businesses and culture. Consumers want to visit places with vibrant local communities. They also care about supporting those communities.
- Make health & wellbeing a priority. More than ever, consumers are vacationing to improve their wellbeing. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for R&R from healthy food to yoga classes and spa treatments.
- Make life easier for consumers. People have become accustomed to flexible bookings and convenient travel. Whenever possible, take the pressure off consumers.
- Utilize social media and video marketing. Make sure to post on social media regularly to stay on consumers’ minds. Since COVID-19, consumers are increasingly making travel decisions through their digital media content consumption.
Just like people, travel trends will continue to change over time. Destinations that adapt the fastest to travelers’ expectations are likely to attract the most vacationers as the world continues to evolve. Here’s to an exciting year of increasing travel in 2022!