What Emerging Travel Trends Can You Expect in 2022?

Nicole Copestake   ● 13 min read
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Where did this year go? As we draw to a close on a year of ups and downs for the tourism industry, now is a good time to reflect, learn, and shake up strategies. The travel industry has come a long way since two years ago. Adapting constantly to not only new travel trends but new challenges. I hope you’re as ready as I am to jump into 2022 with more optimism than ever. While the news changes rapidly each day, there are still plenty of opportunities to take advantage of.

 

So, with that being said, let’s dive in…

 

Let’s get started.

Here's this week's roundup:

Is Travel Heading for its Most Important Peaks Ever?

Source: TTG Media

“Throughout the past 18 months, we have remained agile and flexible, and are geared up for changes in activity” – Erin Johnson, marketing director for Travelopia brands Sovereign and Citalia

 

While ‘unprecedented’ quickly became the most used word back in 2020, ‘adaptability’ became the go-to word for us in the travel industry, along with ‘PIVOT’. Friends references aside, two years on and this quality of ‘adaptability’ still applies and is crucial to the future travel peaks the industry will experience.

As many operators such as yourself are finalising their turn of year campaigns for 2022 traveller confidence is looking remarkably more positive than this time last year (even with travel restrictions being introduced).

With that being said, what will peaks look like going forward? Predicting anything seems like an exercise in tempting fate, however, the supporting data and fellow experts in the trade so far are expecting 2022 to be much more ‘normal’ than 2021.

In fact, several experts believe that the key selling period could extend beyond winter into spring due to Covid’s temporary hold over winter travel. In spite of this, 40% of tour operators according to TTG/PWC are planning to spend a similar amount on marketing as they did pre-pandemic, with 75% saying they would advertise during the same period as usual.

This echoes 10x Tourism co-founder Jay’s sentiments for tour operators all throughout this journey, which is – the big guns are always advertising, so you have to start investing in digital marketing now to get ahead of the game.

Now, you might be thinking “But wait Nicole, you’re a marketing agency, of course, you’d say that”?

And you’d be right! Because it’s TRUE. But, don’t take my word for it, read Vagabond’s success story here and learn how they harnessed the power of video throughout the peak of the pandemic to double their inquiries and gain bookings.

“Peaks will be a very important selling period; we are anticipating consumers will still want to book their summer holiday post- Christmas..“We think people will want to visit Bulgaria again in summer 2022, so we are going ahead with a similar spend to pre-pandemic campaigns.– Chris Rand, Sales and Marketing Manager at Balkan Holidays

Erin Johnson, marketing director for Travelopia brands Sovereign and Citalia says working with agents will be pivotal in order to maintain traveller confidence and get the most out of 2022’s selling peaks. Agent partners need to know that booking with you is safe and secure. EasyJet holidays said it would be launching “special activity” for agents, including trade exclusives and incentives for peaks, which will still be a “key booking period”. 

Reiterating the flexibility you offer to customers will also go a long way in securing those peak bookings in 2022. If you’re not equipped with a flexible booking policy yet, why not take advantage of this free fill-in-the-blanks template.

Another operator and the UK’s largest, Tui, will also be joining the ranks of tourism businesses advertising full throttle for 2022 peaks. After closing more than 200 stores since the start of the pandemic, the reduced high-street presence has meant that Tui has had to up their game in other areas to ‘rekindle wanderlust’ amongst travellers – predominantly through a huge increase in marketing spend. 

Jet2holidays, meanwhile, is imploring agents to start marketing as soon as possible to be ready for a surge of bookings post Christmas. The operator will be running a Travel Made Simple by Jet2holidays campaign spanning social media, email, and web marketing, and will launch new “brozine” brochures with more magazine-style content.

One persuasive tactic your tourism needs to grapple with in 2022 is to leverage the fear of missing out. This can be done through ‘limited availability messaging, and creating a sense of urgency. They’ll be those travelers who book early no matter what, which means those who are left need an extra push to get them the courage to hop on for the ride, and make their dream trip a reality.

The Travel Trend Report 2022: Pt 1 & 2

Source: Forbes: Part 1 & Part 2

If the previous article established there WILL be increasing demand for travel next year, then this article explains what kind of travel consumers will be looking for. In a two-part Podcast, Angelina Villa Clark from Forbes talks to the leading experts about the appetites we’re likely to be seeing from travellers in 2022.

 

Here are the top travel trends to look out for in 2022: 

 

A New Sense of Caring

From new cleanliness protocols to contactless experiences, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the way travel has evolved in a very short space of time. The one area I keep seeing, again and again, is the rise in demand for sustainable options in travel, and travellers wanting to have a positive impact on local communities. Showing authentic intentions to implement sustainable and ethical practises in 2022 will reward you with a branch of loyal customers who recognise your efforts.

 

Erica Gordon, senior vice president and global head of Public Affairs and ESG at Hilton, says:

“We recognise that we have a critical holistic responsibility to protect local communities and the planet, so that the destinations where we operate can remain vibrant and resilient for generations to come. Travel with Purpose is our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy to drive responsible travel and tourism globally. In 2018, we set 2030 goals to double our investment in social impact and cut our environmental footprint in half, beginning a journey to redefine sustainable travel.”

Hilton’s properties have released new initiatives that align with this approach, such as the launch of a vegan suite at Hilton London Bankside and more than 23 waste streams and community partnerships at Hilton Brisbane. 

 

On the Right Track

A return to train travel is on the horizon in 2022, as Audley reported 81% of people surveyed said they were likely to travel by rail for their next trip. New opportunities opening up include a luxurious rail ride on Vietnam’s Vietage train (I actually had the pleasure of taking a ride myself pre-2020).

In Russia, Audley has revealed that bookings on the luxury Golden Eagle train, which travels along the Trans-Siberian Railway, had already increased four-fold before the pandemic. This is set to continue with strong interest for 2022 thanks to the train’s off-the-beaten-track routing and luxury experience.

Travel better, Travel Less

Of course, we all want a strong and robust recovery for the travel industry, but this is a great opportunity to also make sure it’s a responsible recovery. The new ‘Travel Less, Travel Better’ collection of itineraries from Original Travel presents a new, slower, more responsible way of travelling. The focus is on philanthropic holidays, slow travel, such as train and road trips, and sabbatical itineraries.

Founder Tom Barber says: 

“In ordinary times, you wouldn’t expect to see a tour operator telling people to travel less, but these are no longer ordinary times…Fewer trips can still equal a buoyant industry…In fact, for the trade this can represent a huge opportunity because it means that when we do travel, we’re going to want it to be absolutely perfect. That means speaking to people who really know their destinations, such as tour operators like us, who invest a great deal of money every year in research trips for our expert consultants.” 

Deep Rooted Detox

Mental health and physical wellbeing is very much front and centre of people’s minds after the past two years. I touched on this with Booking.com’s recent report in a recent article here. With fewer restrictions in place, many people will be seeking some much-needed healing time, opting for medical spas offering targeted retreats.

For example in the Swiss Alps, Chenot Palace Weggis offers a recovery and energising programme, aiming to reduce chronic stress and revitalise the body with detoxing treatments that are clinically proven. The retreat has also launched a state-of-the-art‘ Molecular Lab for Optimal Living’, which uses epigenetic technology to analyse gene activity, determine biological ageing status, and prescribe a personalised treatment plan for their visitors.

Foodie Fanatics

“2022 will be the year we rekindle our love for travel, indulge and immerse ourselves in the cultural bustle of the world again…Food will be one of the central motives for travel next year with holidaymakers looking to revel in local cooking classes, street food and discover food at its source, by visiting local vineyards or take part in fishing trips” – Rebecca Jackson, marketing manager at holiday home company Perfect Stays

 

Rebecca also says on the podcast that Perfect Stays have also noticed a significant increase in the number of people requesting personal chefs during their stay, some even booking 12 months in advance for this experience.

Does your itinerary include a personal chef experience?

According to ‘The 2022 Traveller: Emerging Trends and the Redefined Traveller’ culinary trips are set to surge as a travel trend for 2022. People want to indulge in more than just a simple family meal, they want a truly authentic experience that displays unique local dishes.

As a tourism business, you can easily accommodate this by offering cooking classes on your trips.

New Frontiers

Eager for adventure, travellers will be yearning for off-the-beaten-track destinations in 2022, for a myriad of reasons. Social distancing and safety procedures will be at play, but also the desire to discover new paths, and new experiences. I hear a lot about ‘revenge travel’, which fits nicely into this trend. 

Your job will be to ensure your expertise and knowledge on the destination you serve translates through creative copy. This can include drip-fed automated email campaigns, landing pages, and blog articles.

Trustly Research Finds Travel Consumers are Prioritising Instant Refunds

Source: Travolution

If you’re a member of our Facebook community group for travel professionals then you’ll know I can’t recommend flexible booking policies enough. They’re a simple and effective way to gain trust and bookings.

And, it’s not just me…

  • Almost three-quarters of UK holidaymakers view instant refunds to be the most important factor when their trip has been cancelled, or changed.
  • 76% agree that a quick refund has been even more crucial the past two years.
  • 84% want transparency from tourism businesses on their booking policies going into 2022.
  • 22% are willing to spend an average of £40 or more when booking a holiday to guarantee that flexibility.
  • Nearly half of consumers (42%) cited low pricing as their top deciding factor when booking travel prior to the pandemic.
  • However, UK consumers are still planning to travel, despite ongoing uncertainties, with 30% aiming to travel internationally two to three times and 40%, two to three times domestically in 2022.
  • 61% admitted that travel companies need to win back their trust after experiencing inflexible bookings since the pandemic.
  • And 68% now peek at the small print when booking travel, due to hesitancy. So, make those Ts&Cs clear!

 

“As demand for greater reassurance, transparency, and flexibility grows, there’s a real opportunity for travel companies and operators to gain customer trust by showcasing their commitment to offering more flexible options if something goes wrong…Without that guarantee, many holidaymakers will not be willing to part with their money until they receive something in return.” – Mike Parkinson, director of travel at global payments firm Trustly

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4 Types of Business Travellers to Look Out For

Do you serve business travellers?

While business travel is undergoing a slower recovery, there are some signs of positivity going into 2022 as corporate events start to emerge again.

A recent report by McKinsey & Company identified four types of business travellers we can expect to see coming into the picture next year.

 

They are:

 

1. Those who have never stopped travelling

This demographic of business traveller accounted for 15% of all business sector spending in 2019. During the pandemic, travel for these individuals never stopped and was considered essential. This group includes, but is not limited to, executives of manufacturing companies that manage large numbers of plants and field workers.

Offering self-service accommodation will go along way in easing the experience of this type of business traveller.

 

2. Those who will never return

These workers have felt much more productive working from home. Rather than flying to their next meeting they embraced Zoom with open arms during 2020 and have no intention of dotting about again when all business can be done from the comfort of home.

This is the profile who long for that international escape once the works over, tap into this by offering experiences that inspire them to forget about the daily grind.

 

3. Those who are afraid of missing out

This type of business traveller profile will likely be from a small or medium sized enterprise (SME’s), seeking to maintain customer relationships face to face. This profile made up 60% of all business sector spending in 2019.

Leveraging the fear of missing out, could inspire healthy competition for larger businesses to reignite business travel.

 

4. Those who are waiting to see what happens

During the pandemic, this segment may have held virtual events to replace in-person conferences and may be more reluctant to go back on the road. This profile is comfortable where they are and will need a lot of convincing to make that first booking. But once they do, they’ll fall back into the swing of things quite quickly.

Travel Ad Spend Takes off With Predicted 36% Growth in 2022

Source: The Drum

Despite the unpredictable events of late, landing more pivotal blows to the tourism industry in the form of winter travel restrictions, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it seems like ‘de Ja Vu, and we’re definitely not out of the woods yet – but the data is there, and it’s supporting growth!

 

According to a recent report from Zenith;

 

  • In 2021 the travel sector grew by 24%
  • In 2022 this is set to accelerate further to 36%

 

Based on this data, ad spend is set to grow up to six times faster than the ad market as a whole over the period.

However, we must remain cautious…

While we can see the blue sky ahead, this doesn’t mean a return to business as usual, your tourism business still needs to focus on building those strong meaningful relationships with consumers.  Embrace technology where you can, as this will make the customer journey to booking more seamless. If you’re just starting out, video ads are a powerful way to tell a story and create meaningful connections with your target audience.

 

3 key points to note are;

  • A huge shift to digital has happened and will continue to happen into 2022. Travel brands are expected to up their digital advertising spend from 63% in 2020 to 70% in 2023. Mostly motivated by the rise of travel apps, vaccine passports, and digital concierge services. In contrast, advertisers as a whole currently allocate just 58% of budgets to digital.

 

  • 32% of sales for the travel sector now comes from e-commerce, versus 20% for retail as a whole.

 

  • However, despite the recent uptick, travel ad spend remains 33% below its 2019 level this year.

What Social Media Trends Will Emerge for 2022?

Source:  CMSWire 

Social media continues to rapidly evolve year on year, it can be so hard to keep up sometimes. As soon as one trend arrives, another is waiting to take its place in a matter of months. It is crucial to building brand awareness, however, and needs to be part of your tourism business’s content strategy in 2022.

 

Below are the top 7 identifying trends related to your tourism business, that’s set to take over the social mediasphere in 2022:

 

  • The Evolution of the Main Feed Has Begun

The infamous algorithm on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter has not been short of controversy over the past few years. But, the clickbait tactics have now led to an outcry for change. Consumers want their feeds to bring value to their lives in a meaningful way. A number of changes are in the process of being made in order to curate posts with more personalisation, focusing on privacy also. Your tourism business should expect – and plan to leverage more features to make the customer journey as effortless as possible.

  • Social Media Loves Ad Revenue

The revenue created from social media advertising continues to grow exponentially. For instance, Twitter ad revenue has grown 38.5% since 2020, with Instagram expected to make up over 50% of Facebook’s $50.30 billion in net ad revenues by the end of 2021. In terms of travel marketing and where your tourism business should be advertising, it’s safe to say social media platforms still reign supreme.

  • Slimmed-down Media Models Will Stoke the Competitive Fires

Keep an eye on the rising stars in social media. Many people are turning away from the firmly established social media platforms with massive audiences, in favour of new slimmed-down media models. These niche platforms aim to make socialising more authentic for their audiences and are more convenient to moderate in terms of safety. These include Clubhouse, Spotify, and sub-communities in the larger platforms such as Twitter spaces.

While none of these are expected to become the next Facebook (although time will tell), this is the beauty of niche social media models. 

  • Customer Service

The pandemic has accelerated the need for faster communication in customer service. Tourism businesses, such as yours, need to bear this in mind for 2022. You know as well as I do, that a brilliant customer service experience goes a long way in creating a loyal band of customers – even if they don’t buy straight away, or they initially have a bad experience.

2022 will be about answering queries promptly, and not leaving potential leads on ‘read’. Utilise the social media tools you have to ensure no lead get’s left in the lurch.

  • Calls for Social Media Accountability Will Increase

Gone are the days when social media used to be a free-for-all in terms of expressing your personal interests and identity, without a second thought. If you’re a business owner or working for a small business, and your profile is public – be aware, your profile is your brand. It’s your customer’s first impression. It would be wise if you haven’t already, to set up a separate business profile for your tourism business to ensure a curated (but authentic) brand can be maintained.

  • Augmented Reality, the Next Buzz

In wake of the Metaverse hype, people’s interest in augmented reality (AR) is starting to grow, though many remain skeptical. Around a quarter (23%) of US adults surveyed, who’ve never tried AR, are interested in doing so.

For some tourism businesses, this offers a unique opportunity to experiment with new ideas surrounding AR. Imagine if travel restrictions remained in place, yet, your customers could still get the travel experience they crave through AR? Very different from virtual tours, the AR experience would be fully immersive.

  • Short Video Adoption Will Shape Video Metrics

Short video clips dominate the social media environment today. Going forward into 2022, travel marketers need to analyse whether link playback leads to conversions. This means finding a link between the data from social media to sales or conversion data. Look for correlation features in reporting or for third-party alternatives ranging from open-source data models made with R or Python to plugin dependencies for business data solutions like Power BI or Google Data Studio.

 

To conclude these 7 travel trends to watch out for in 2022, I’ll ask you one question:

Do you have scroll-stopping power?

If the answer is: No, or not sure – Read this article here, teaching you how your tourism business can stop your audience in their tracks.


A statistic I found interesting:

Nearly 40% of the US workforce can now work from anywhere, and in other countries, that number is even higher.

(Amadeus)


A question for you:

Ending on a positive note for the year…

What keeps you motivated and remaining in love with this wonderful industry we’re all part of?

Did you enjoy reading the above?

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