With spring in full bloom, many travellers throughout North America, the U.K. and Europe are getting a head start on their summer travel plans. Data shows a 35% surge in travellers searching for warm weekend getaways or poolside trips for the spring and summer seasons. Recently, Booking.com released a study declaring 2023 as the year of the savvy traveller. Despite concerns about the economy, 68% of travellers are continuing to prioritise their holidays but are seeking more bang for their buck. More than half (53%) are planning to be thriftier than in the past on their travels.
In contrast to the demand for low-cost holidays, the affluent continue to seek luxury travel experiences such as private villas in Marrakesh and safaris in Botswana. Trends suggest that the wealthy will continue to travel indiscriminately. A survey conducted by OutThere found that of the wealthiest respondents, 61% plan to spend more on travel in 2023 to upgrade the quality of their experience or to travel further and deeper – an increase of 8% compared to last year. This means that these already high-spending travellers are looking to expand their travel horizons and will have an even greater economic impact in 2023.
The following is a summary of global travel trends and industry shifts that our PR teams in the U.K. and the U.S. have compiled from recent media feedback, widespread coverage, industry conferences and webinars:
TRENDS IMPACTING THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
- Culture Is Key – Viator released the Viator Travel Trends Report 2023, highlighting that culture is key this year. The “Cultural & Theme” category experienced a 228% increase over last year, with searches up for tours of the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Statue of Liberty and more. For U.S. travellers, visits to Europe boomed in 2022 with year-over-year growth of over 400%; top destinations included France, Italy and England. As travel restrictions continued to lift across Asia and the Pacific in the second half of 2022, Viator saw a steady influx of interest and bookings from U.S. travellers in Thailand, French Polynesia and Japan.
- Thirst Trips – Hotels.com has coined the new term “Thirst Trips,” which are short weekend stays to satisfy the craving for a long weekend.
- U.S. Seniors Crave Bucket List Trips – AARP notes that 81% of U.S. adults who are 50 years of age or older feel comfortable travelling this year, showing a decline in pandemic concerns among older travellers. Additionally and despite economic concerns, 63% of this group is interested in taking a bucket list trip. This represents 39% more seniors who are interested in taking a bucket list trip prior to the pandemic.
- Under-the-Radar Trips Are In, Especially for U.K. Travellers – Instead of the traditional holiday hot spots, there’s an increase in interest for under-the-radar locations. Travellers are seeking extraordinary experiences. For example, in the luxury sector, people are happy to pay between £5,000 and £20,000 a week for the privilege of visiting untouched places.
- The Gap Year Is No Longer Just for Students – The New York Times recently unveiled a new trend pointing to the rise of the midlife gap year. The phrase is no longer associated only with students; now it’s all about taking a year off from work and welcoming new adventures and exploring different cultures.
- Regenerative Travel – Martin Raymond, co-founder of the Future Laboratory, which publishes the Future Forecast 2023 collection of trends, found that following a turbulent period in the travel sector, consumer preferences will increasingly be focused on family-style services and venues that are built in harmony with the natural environment. The industry needs to focus on regenerative growth and being proactive when it comes to how we travel responsibly.
- Flight-Free Travel – A recent TravMedia webinar provided insights from travel editors including Ben Ross (The Telegraph), Helen Coffey (The Independent) and Lisa Minot (The Sun). They highlighted the rising trend of flight-free travel and the growing focus on train journeys.
- How to Land the Perfect Podcast Pitch – In a recent webinar from Propel, experts shared tips on how to successfully pitch spokespeople to be guests on podcasts. Most notable feedback included pitching on Wednesdays, listening to a few episodes prior to pitching to familiarise yourself with what is discussed and sharing specific topics that the spokesperson can speak on instead of just sharing a bio or credentials.
- Value Holidays – All-inclusive resorts continue to be a sought-after and cost-effective option for families. Publications across markets are looking for package deals and options that offer value for a range of price points.
- The State of Journalism 2023 by Muck Rack – Muck Rack recently published a study focused on the current state of journalism and the future outlook of the travel industry. Two out of three journalists say their work has been impacted by economic uncertainty. There is still a hunger for travel pieces, but now readers tend to get their information online. The majority of journalists agree that Millennials and Gen Xers are the most reported target audiences, and this demographic gets their information online – which explains why most journalists are now focusing on online travel features.
- BuzzFeed recently announced it is shutting down its namesake news division. After beginning as a quirky digital upstart and rising to a Pulitzer Prize–winning operation, it ultimately fell prey to the punishing economics of digital publishing. Thankfully, other areas of BuzzFeed such as Tasty (food-focused content) and Bring Me! (travel-focused content) will continue publishing content.
- U.S. Editors Turn to Freelance Work and New Roles – Following layoffs across TripSavvy, former editor Astrid Taran has now landed a position as the Senior Travel Editor for Forbes. Numerous other U.S. editors have opted for freelance gigs, including Dana Givens (formerly at Robb Report), Laura Ratliff (formerly at TripSavvy) and Rona Berg (formerly at Organic Spa).
- U.K. Editors and Writers Turn to New Roles: Lucy Thackray, previously Deputy Head of Travel at The Independent, has left to pursue a career in freelance journalism, and Lee Hayhurst, previously at Travel Weekly and Travolution, has started a new position as Editorial Director at Real Response Media, which produces Cruise Trade News and World of Cruising. In addition, Karen Edwards has been appointed Sustainability Editor for Wanderlust.
- Growth in U.K. Publications: National Geographic Traveller has taken on two new Commissioning Editors. The team at The Sun has also grown with the appointment of three more writers to the travel team.
- Travel Positive: The Independent recently launched its new column “Travel Positive,” which focuses on companies and brands making positive changes. This trend can be seen throughout national publications.