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Major influences driving travel trends for 2023 include the cost of living crisis, sustainability credentials, global easing of COVID-19 restrictions, wellbeing, and discovery or rare experiences. 

While the overwhelming sentiment is that Brits will continue to prioritise travel, there are some very different trends emerging between the mass and luxury markets. So while, at first glance, it appears that trend reports for 2023 contradict each other, when we drill down to specific market sectors, the lines are clearer.

ABTA’s annual trends report provides a good overview of the UK mass market. It confirms that people will continue to spend on holidays as a form of escapism, with 93% saying that a holiday improves their mental health and wellbeing. 

The report highlights that all-inclusives will be the go-to option, an obvious direction in response to the higher cost-of-living, ensuring that people have control of their holiday spending. Figures show that 29% are planning all-inclusive holidays in 2023, a figure that rises to 57% for young families. The Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Turkey are the leading all-inclusive destinations.

That trend is reflected for the first time for 22/23 winter sports, where all-inclusive bookings are overtaking self-catering options.

Nostalgia, and the comfort of familiar destinations will drive booking choices, with 41% of people unlikely to visit a country they haven’t been to before (up from 34% in 2019), good news for repeat business.

Extended winter breaks – hibernation holidays – that allow people to swap the cold British weather for warmer, sunnier locations are also on the rise, with 4 in 10 people having already booked, or considering, a winter break. Long-stay holidays in the Canary Islands are experiencing strong sales, with scheduled airline capacity up by a third compared to 2019. Similarly, 21 and 28-night stays in winter sun destinations further afield – Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cape Verde and Florida – have increased.

The way people travel is also likely to shift, with the journey becoming just as important as the destination; likely a reaction to the travel chaos seen at UK airports this summer. The cruise market continues to boom, with more itineraries than ever featuring UK departures, and more operators offering train or boat travel to European destinations.

Skift’s “State of Travel 2022” report supports ABTA’s findings, with 31% of people saying they will use alternative transportation instead of flying.

Expedia found that travellers will favour city breaks and urban landscapes, particularly culture capitals – think Sydney, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Bangkok, New York.

While city breaks prove popular, rustic getaways – private holiday homes in barns and farmhouses – hidden gems in lesser known destinations, and new wave wellness – from cryotherapy to forest bathing, foraging to fruit harvesting – are all piquing interest.

Travellers will continue to be inspired by TV shows, with the UK and New Zealand scoring well as the most popular destinations. And they want to rediscover a love for cooking on their holidays, as rentals with kitchens prove popular.

Luxury Travel
Trends in luxury travel will filter down to the wider market, and can help travel brands identify product development and improvement opportunities

During the pandemic, Credit Suisse reported an “explosion of wealth” amongst the world’s richest people. The number of people with more than US$50million in assets climbed to a record high in 2021. So while many countries are facing a short-term cost of living crisis, and there is a worldwide recession forecast, a “Luxury Travel and Yachting Trends” report from Pelorus and Globetrender predicts that demand for luxury travel will be healthier than ever over the next five years. The report looks at seven trends that will be key to shaping luxury travel and delivers seven key takeaways:

  • Pay more attention to the unique needs and desires of Generation Alpha
  • Leverage tourism as a force for good
  • Embrace zero-emission transport wherever possible
  • Be more inventive with oceanic voyages and underwater experiences
  • Use the metaverse not as a replacement for travel, but as an effective way of selling it
  • Avoid overtourism
  • Tap into people’s ability to work remotely with extended, multi-destination itineraries

Grand Tours – Extended, multi-destination itineraries will boom. Demand for glamorous, old-world train journeys – Istanbul Orient Express will be reborn in 2025 – or radical road trips – Tesla Cybertruck slated for 2023 – is on the rise; as is a focus on luxury RVs and off grid glamping in the US. 

Gen Alpha Design – Millennials, the most travelled generation on the planet, are now exploring the world with their offspring – Gen Alpha – and looking for experiences that will meet the needs of both generations; adventurous and intrepid family holidays. They are looking for unique and life-changing experiences that are immersed in local cultures. Fun, creative, and age-appropriate new activities that provide different perspectives are key. Think exploring nature with wildlife experts, inspired by David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, or searching for treasure, inspired by real historical events.

High-impact conservation – ‘Luxury’ has taken on new meaning for HNWI who want to ensure their presence contributes to preservation and protection of flora and fauna, balancing an increasing sense of urgency to undo some of the human-made damage, but to witness wildlife and places of outstanding natural beauty that may be gone one day. Examples of high-impact conservation include shadowing marine biologists studying coral reefs and sea-life habitats, or joining anti-poaching units to track collared elephants; funding research that won’t happen without the income generated from travellers.

Gamma Destinations – New frontier ‘Gamma’ destinations include Yemen, Gabon and Chad, as well as those best explored by yacht, due to their inaccessibility, like Papua New Guinea, Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands; places that offer entirely new experiences for those that have “seen it all before”. 

Ocean Exploration – whether it’s state-of-the-art private submersibles exploring shipwrecks up close, or explorer yachts sailing off-the-beaten-track locations – Alaska, Raja Ampat, Vanuatu – Ocean Exploration amongst UHNW and HNW individuals is set to grow.

Metaverse Previews – While still in its infancy, particularly in terms of travel, the Metaverse is already being used by innovative companies like Imageen which takes history buffs on walks around ancient sites. Virtual reality will be used not as a way to replace travel, but to sell it. Apple’s debut VA/AR headset, due to launch in 2023 is being called a game-changer for virtual travel experiences.

Clean Tech Expeditions – There is a huge amount of innovation in the “clean mobility” space, including the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), new modes of emission-free transport like the Virgin Hyperloop train, OceanSky Cruises airships and stratospheric balloon flights from Space Perspective. Electric aerial taxis may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but there are a number of players in the market producing eVTOLS – electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. Electric tenders and jet skis, alongside eFoils, will become more commonplace among the sailing community. Already, solar-powered electric motorbikes are being used by anti-poaching squads in South Africa.

Business Travel
Blended travel is contributing to longer stays with higher value

According to Forward Keys“2022 Most Visited Destinations Report” business travel had been recovering at a slower rate than leisure tourism until the last quarter of 2022, when it began to outstrip leisure. 

Advantage Travel Partnership revealed that the average business travel transaction value so far in 2022 is 12.4% higher than in 2019. Its “Global Business Travel Review” also stated that the length of trips, now at more than seven days, has also increased as companies look to maximise value and travel more sustainably

Skift’s “State of Travel 2022” report highlights the growth in prominence of the blended ‘bleisure’ trip, fuelled by the current working from anywhere (WFA) trend, noting that 38% of business trips now include a weekend.

Google data also highlights growing interest in blended trips, with 75% of business travellers surveyed by Google saying they find the idea appealing.

Trends to hone in on 2023

We have highlighted some of the areas that consumers will be interested in exploring during 2023 and beyond, which can be incorporated alongside existing product offerings. Please speak to your MMGY Grifco team to discuss how we can incorporate these into our plans for the year.

  • All-inclusive packages / options
  • Art retreats to combat burnout
  • CBD products – spa treatments, non alcoholic drinks
  • Light wellness – healthy options in room, pillow/mattress menus, sleep aids
  • Working nomads
  • High-tech spa treatments – cryotherapy, DNA analysis, meditainment, longevity seeking
  • Pet pampering – grooming, walking services, etc
  • Maximising nature and outdoor space – “bootiquing
  • Unplugged / off grid – quiet zones, meditation areas, nap pods, reading cabanas
  • Multi-generational activities
  • Sustainability
  • Solo travel for 65+
  • Purpose-driven, neighbour-gooding
  • Roaring 20s – gala events, extravagant parties, maximalist
  • Joy Seeking / Transformation – trying something new, self improvement
  • Entertrainment – entertaining self improvement
  • Membership benefits/subscription economy – NFTs
  • Sober Travel – break out the marvellous mocktails
  • Extreme Escapism – Ultimate trips for Thrillionaires where people don’t know where they’re going. Often a challenge element followed by extreme luxury