‘New sense of urgency’ to hit the road
There is a “new sense of urgency” to travel, said Stephanie Papaioannou, a vice president at luxury travel agency Abercrombie & Kent.
“Guests feel like they’ve lost two years and older customers worry about having less healthy years left to travel,” she said.
Lee Thompson, co-founder of the adventure travel company Flash Pack, agreed.
“People are desperate to get away,” he said. “They’ve been waiting to get back out there and don’t shy away from those international destinations and big, once-in-a-lifetime adventures.”
The Year of the ‘GOAT’
Expedia calls 2022 the year of the GOAT, or the “greatest of all trips.”
In a survey of 12,000 travelers in 12 countries, the company found that 65% of respondents plan to “go big” on their next trip, a company representative said. As a result, it called the desire for exciting and extravagant travel “the biggest travel trend” of the year.
An Expedia survey of 12,000 travelers found that Singaporeans were least likely to have traveled during the pandemic (59%) and most likely to want to spend (43%) on their next trip.
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According to a company report published in November, Amadeus is seeing a jump in searches for “epic destinations.” Searches to Tanzania (+36%), flights to Petra in Jordan (+22%) and bookings to cities near Machu Picchu (nearly +50%) have increased from 2020 to 2021, according to the report.
These trends are expected to grow this year, along with interest in islands in the Indian Ocean and Antarctica, the report said.
The pandemic has changed the “mood of travelers,” said Decius Valmorbida, president of travel at Amadeus.
“We have people who just say, ‘Look, what if another pandemic happens? What if I’m locked up again?” he said. There is “a psychological effect that now is the time.”
Searches for vacation homes abroad are now at the same level as in 2019, according to HomeToGo’s travel trends report, published in late November.
The international destinations generating the most searches this year, compared to 2019, are Tuscany, Italy (+141%), the Bahamas (+129%), Bora Bora in French Polynesia (+98%), the Maldives (+97). %) and the south of France (+88%), according to the report.
The most sought-after international destinations by Americans for 2022 travel are Rome, Bali, London, Paris and Mexico’s Riviera Maya — including Playa del Carmen and Tulum — according to Expedia.
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Research shows that 18- to 34-year-olds are driving the trend, and families are joining in, says Papaioannou of Abercrombie & Kent.
“Families are choosing destinations they’ve always dreamed of, especially destinations that focus on outdoor experiences such as cruises on the Nile, Machu Picchu, safaris and inland cruising in Europe,” she said.
While the pandemic has been financially devastating for some, the pandemic has enabled others — namely professionals who have been able to work from home — to squeeze more savings.
About 70% of vacationers in major countries, such as the US, UK, Canada, Japan and Spain, plan to spend more on travel by 2022 than in the past five years, according to a November joint report from the United States. World Travel & Tourism Council and travel website Trip.com.
Travelers are “more willing than ever before” to spend money on future trips, according to Expedia.
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Globally, HomeToGo’s average booking spend increased 54% last year, compared to 2019, according to company data. But average nightly rates haven’t risen as much this year — about 10% in the US — for bookings compared to before the pandemic, said company co-founder and CEO Patrick Andrae.
“The pent-up demand for travel has led travelers to take longer vacations, many choosing to do so in a spacious vacation rental rather than a hotel,” he said.
American travelers this summer are also looking for quieter, more luxurious destinations — Maui over Honolulu, Nantucket over Cape Cod — despite the higher cost, according to HomeToGo data.
Travelers may be willing to pay more to get to certain places, rather than making the trip itself more luxurious. According to Expedia, twice as many US respondents said they were willing to spend more to see “bucket list” destinations (32%) rather than book luxury experiences (15%) or room or flight upgrades (16%). .
The willingness and ability to spend more is probably a good thing, as travel costs have increased in some places. The US Travel Association’s December Travel Price Index, which measures travel costs in the United States, shows that prices for food (+10%), hotels (+13.3%) and motor fuel (+26.6%) have increased compared to 2019.
However, according to the index, the airfare was lower than the level of 2019 (-17%), but that may change soon, partly due to rising jet fuel costs.
Family reunions and ‘friendcations’
People celebrate missed milestones, often with family, Papaioannou said. Data from Abercrombie & Kent shows that the number of future bookings of five or more guests has increased by 26% compared to 2019, she said.
Family reunion-style vacations will be popular this year, agrees Mark Hoenig, co-founder of digital travel company VIP Traveler.
People are expected to travel more this year with friends and family.
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“People are still making up for lost time with family,” he said. “Destinations that cater for large, multi-generational families, such as those with a large stock of large villas – including the Caribbean, Mexico and the Maldives – are seeing an increase in bookings.”
According to Amadeus, the UK saw an explosion in bookings by large groups as restrictions were relaxed. Bookings to party venues, such as Las Vegas; Cancun, Mexico; and the Spanish island of Ibiza, led the company to name “friendcations” a top 2022 trend.
Renewed demand for travel agencies
Big trips often require big plans, resulting in a renewed demand for travel agents, says Elizabeth Gordon, co-founder of tour and safari operator Extraordinary Journeys.
Professional planners can help travelers navigate “Covid-19 testing, restrictions, changes in entry requirements, visas, flights, lodging, activities and backup plans,” she said.
Even “do-it-yourself travelers” who normally plan their own trips are now seeking professional help to ensure their upcoming trips run seamlessly, says VIP Traveler’s Hoenig.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that HomeToGo’s average nightly rental rates have increased by 10% in the US market alone.