Going places: Travel experts see strong demand in 2023 powered by purposeful, experiential, ‘evolved’ travelers

Going places: Travel experts see strong demand in 2023 powered by purposeful, experiential, ‘evolved’ travelers

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is uniformity among the pundits making predictions for travel trends that 2023 will be another strong year for travel, with the economy (as always) helping to shape decisions of where, when and how people travel. Wellness is a top theme for what people are looking for, which translates into getting out in nature and active trips.

Travelers are also being more conscious of “sustainability” and “responsible travel” in making choices of destinations and companies, from airlines to hotels to what activities they choose. They are more “purposeful” in their choices, and seeking out experiences, authenticity, connections.

And people are still taking advantage of the opportunity to work remotely to combine business with pleasure, a “bleisure” trip, and live a nomadic life, and take advantage of flexibility to make trips more affordable and accessible.

Indeed, baby boomers- the original backpackers – have cultivated two and three generations of avid travelers, who place a high value on travel, and especially, on experience and life-learning – which has also accelerated the popularity of multi-generational and heritage travel.

That means that no matter what the challenge, be it economic, pandemic, climate or conflict, travel holds such value, people will find a way to continue to travel, fashioning their travel choices from the myriad of opportunities. There is a whole country, a whole world to discover and experience. This may be the year to do the Galapagos or Machu Picchu, or it may be the year to take the family to hike and camp in New York’s Watkins Glen State Park. Travelers are more open to exploring emerging destinations – cheaper, less crowded, more “authentic”.

“It is clear that we’re hungrier than ever to discover something new – even though we might have less in our pockets next year,” reflected Naomi Hahn, VP of strategy for global travel site, Skyscanner. “The aftermath of a pandemic has made travelers look for ways to make up for lost time and create new experiences and memories.

“Consumers are putting value first, post pandemic. The squeeze on personal spending has shown that consumers will still prioritize getting away but are increasingly shopping around on metasearch platforms like Skyscanner. They are also employing simple travel hacks to ensure they get the most for their money, like being flexible in terms of dates and destination. The year looks set to be a year of new discoveries as emerging, pocket friendly destinations come to the fore.”

Research from Skyscanner reveals that US vacationers are expecting another strong year of travel despite economic uncertainty, but price-led decision making will drive change and choices in 2023. With 86% of US travelers planning to spend the same if not more on travel abroad next year, how they are going to spend will differ.

“US travelers are also craving experiences grounded in nature and wellbeing. A way to re-set and feel normal again. Expect friends to ditch each other in favor of solo adventures, indulge in sneaky smartphone travel searches in the workplace and vacationers navigating the cost-of-living crisis to ensure their time away remains a priority,” she noted.

Key trends:

Travel remains a priority: Consumers today look to make better, more informed decisions about their discretionary spend: 46% are planning the same number of vacations in 2023 as 2022, and 41% are thinking of even going on more trips next year. Just 6% are planning to vacation less in 2023. The rising cost of living is still a concern, but 62% have decided to prioritize vacations next year over other big-ticket items.

Shift in spending: 86% of US travelers are planning to spend the same if not more on travel abroad next year, while only 5% are planning to spend less. Travelers are increasingly demanding greater ticket transparency, as well as taking control of the value in their airfares, unbundling of price to build packaged airfares that suit their needs.

Best value destinations for 2023: Skyscanner, which helps travelers compare pricing or choose travel based on budget, can also reveal the destinations that have seen the biggest price drops since pre-pandemic are: Madeira, Portugal (22% price drop); Sofia, Bulgaria (18% price drop); Brussels, Belgium (13% price drop).

Skyscanner’s 2023 hotlist: Travelers are increasingly on the hunt for less popular places that offer undiscovered experiences and unlock better value. In fact, Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” search is regularly in the top searches, post pandemic. Among the destinations that have seen the biggest increase in searches: For families; Jacksonville, Florida; Izmir Turkey, and Madeira, Portugal. For couples: Minneapolis; Preveza, Greece; and Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Solo traveling is no longer a niche: 54% of travelers said they are looking to escape solo next year. Divorcees (78%) are not staying home, ranking among the highest in their readiness to vacation solo and “self-focused.”  With an increasing number of friendship apps launched and platonic versions of dating apps growing in popularity, there is also the opportunity to connect with new travel companions.

Sustainability: Sustainable travel continues to grow as a factor in travelers’ decision making: 24% in the survey say sustainability is even more important now than prior to the pandemic. With price-led decision making and sustainable travel both top of mind, 11% are considering new, alternative destinations for their next trip.

Nature first: Wildlife spotting appears in the top 3 travel activities planned for vacations, suggesting the pandemic’s emphasis on wellness, getting outside and connecting with the local environment has become a key component of travel plans. Interacting with the environment and watching animals has mood-boosting properties.

Skyscanner’s search tools enable travelers to pursue wellness, for example, finding where to experience the meditative effects of Shinrin-yoku, a new wellness trend that literally means “forest bathing”.

Making work work for you (and your wallet): 45% of Americans surveyed plan to work while on vacation next year or combine business with leisure -“bleisure travel”. Skyscanner helps promote the trend by making it possible to cross-reference the long list of countries that now offer digital nomad visas with their cities’ cost of living index. Skyscanner’s favorites include: Mexico City, Mexico; Zagreb, Croatia and Madrid, Spain.

Gazing into the future, one in three people expect vacationing among the stars to be a mainstream reality in their lifetime, while closer to home, advances in supersonic technology could re-define short-haul travel.

Founded in 2003, Skyscanner helps millions of people in 52 countries and over 30 languages find the best travel options for flights, hotels and car rental every month. Its highly rated app has over 110 million downloads. Working with 1200 travel partners, Skyscanner’s mission is to lead the global transformation to modern and sustainable travel, giving travelers the best opportunity to compare prices.

According to Skyscanner’s executives, the most popular search is for “anywhere. Our mission is to inspire.”

Visit www.skyscanner.com.

Hilton Spotlights Travelers’ ‘Evolution’ as a Record Year of Travel Concludes

If 2022 was the year of the changed traveler, 2023 is the year of the evolved traveler, a study by Hilton has found. The 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Travel Experience, A Report from Hilton showcases travelers’ evolving preferences and how eager and optimistic they are about their future adventures:

People will turn to travel for deeper, more engaging, human experiences and connections: Travel is a gateway to discovering different perspectives and rich traditions. In 2023, travelers will focus on travel to create deeper connections with family, friends, colleagues, customers, cultures and the planet. Nearly half (49%) of survey respondents want to be immersed in local culture and products while traveling, and another 40% want personalized access to special experiences or activities, such as performances, events, spa treatments, or classes.

Travel is regarded as an essential part of their wellness routine: Overall wellness remains a priority for travelers, with 50% of respondents saying they seek travel experiences in 2023 that align with their wellness goals and priorities, addressing mind, body and spirit.

Travelers want “frictionless: travel innovations that are both technology- and human-led: 56% of travelers will prioritize adopting solutions that make travel easier in 2023.

To start planning 2023 travel, visit Hilton.com.

HotelPlanner’s Top Travel Trends for 2023

HotelPlanner, a hotel booking engine and travel technology platform serving travelers since 2003, also anticipates another record year with “purpose-driven” travel reflecting pent-up demand for epic “Insta-worthy” adventure, more culturally immersive and experiential travel with friends and family, and extended stays that mix business and leisure travel.

“The traveler mindset in 2023 will be to book that well-deserved adventure to a new city, dream resort, or a new corner of the world, says Tim Hentschel, co-founder & CEO, HotelPlanner.

Top travel trends for 2023 include:

Exchange Rate Travel – The weakened British pound and Euro have given Americans more purchasing power across Europe than at any time since the early 1980s. If there were ever a time for Americans to save money in Europe, it’s now.

Luxury Travel – Contradicting the pressure from inflation, millions who were diligent in saving disposable income or started new businesses and careers and now have the financial means are looking for a more bespoke, upscale, inclusive, or other luxury experience.

Wedding Travel – About one in four Americans traveled in 2022 for a wedding-related event and this is expected to continue into 2023, with many couples choosing destination weddings, such as the Caribbean or Hawaii, or their family’s country of origin.

Revenge Travel – Despite inflation, after two years of limited travel due to pandemic restrictions, millions are eager to make up for lost time. The industry is calling this trend ‘revenge travel” – a “now or never” approach. “They just want to see the world because life is short. Travel ‘FOMO’ [fear of missing out] is real.”

Digital Nomads – Remote workers whose employers allow them to work from wherever they want are taking advantage of this freedom. They might visit five cities or five countries over several weeks or months, and work from coffee shops, extended stay hotels and AirBnBs. Hotels are already marketing directly to digital nomads with extended stay incentives.

Bleisure Travel combines business & leisure travel, extending their trip for a mini-vacation, oftentimes with their spouse or family. Given that corporate travel is still recovering, customers should take advantage of the ‘Saturday Night Stayover’ deal where many airlines and hotels will offer discounts if you extend through the weekend.

Sustainable Travel – Travelers are becoming more environmentally conscious about their carbon footprint and the positive or negative impact their travels may have on the planet. Travelers are searching more for “eco-friendly” hotels and transportation options, as well as considering “environmental impact.” They are seeking out sustainable travel trips, where part of the experience includes local philanthropic events like growing a community garden, or cleaning up a beach – almost like a mini week-long “Peace Corps” of sorts.

Multi-Generational Travel – Traveling with three or even four generations of family members is becoming even more popular with heightened appreciation of family connection.

Heritage Travel – With the increased popularity of sites like 23 & Me and Ancestry.com, people are rediscovering family roots and tracing their lineage back to their ancestors’ country of origin.

Learn more at www.HotelPlanner.com

U.S. Travelers Aim to Experience Destinations as Locals, Crave More Authenticity

When it comes to traveling in 2023, Americans want to be more than mere tourists and this desire is driving their travel plans to seek authentic and unforgettable experiences, according to a study commissioned by GetYourGuide, a leading travel booking platform for experiences. More than half of leisure travelers (51%) say experiencing a destination as a local is a high priority, while 45% express concern they are not having an authentic experience.

“Today’s leisure travelers are seeking one-of-a-kind experiences that highlight destinations through an authentic lens,” said Caroline Berger, Head of Brand, U.S. at GetYourGuide.

The local allure: As for the aspects of the local culture that are important whether traveling domestically or internationally, food tops the list (70%), followed by seeing the sites (67%), learning about the history (58%), experiencing the local arts scene (48%) and interacting with the locals (38%).

Memories are worth every penny: Travelers are increasingly inclined to seek out once-in-a-lifetime experiences and create memories and spend at least part of their trip on new and unique experiences. To make an international trip memorable, travelers are primarily looking to uncover something new: 64% want to discover something they didn’t know about before; while 60% want to visit a popular destination, 56% want to explore a location they’ve never heard of.

And while nearly all (93%) are willing to cut back on some aspects to save money — such as gifts or souvenirs (65%), eating out (41%), transportation (36%) or accommodations (33%) — the vast majority (71%) are not willing to cut back on their activities and experiences.

Local guides bring incredible value: Nearly all (98%) travelers say they recognize the benefits of having a local guide. Some of the benefits they might be missing without a guide include: being able to see things they wouldn’t otherwise find out about (70%); avoiding dangerous areas (60%); less risk of getting lost (59%)

The most common causes for concern when exploring on their own include: overpaying (51%); not being able to do all the things they planned (49%).

Travelers use GetYourGuide, a booking platform, to discover the best things to do in a destination — including walking tours by local experts, local culinary tours, cooking and craft classes, skip-the-line tickets to the world’s iconic attractions, bucket-list experiences and niche offerings. Since its founding in 2009, travelers from over 170 countries have booked 58 million tours, activities and attraction tickets through GetYourGuide.

Visit www.getyourguide.com.

Photo: A cruise on the Galapagos Legend satisfies the key travel trends predicted for 2023: travelers are seeking purposeful, experiential, responsible travel to destinations to explore, learn and connect with family, with added benefits of wellness and a “now or never” check off a bucket list. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

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