The year 2022 paved the way for the travel industry’s recovery from the pandemic. Countries worldwide reopened borders, relaxed entry criteria, and welcomed visitors. Last year saw a surge in tourism, but it was just the beginning. Travel is swiftly approaching pre-pandemic levels.
Global air traffic reached 69% of its pre-pandemic volume. However, these statistics don’t mean a complete return to old travel behaviors. The industry has undergone significant changes since the pre-pandemic era.
Travel has become an essential aspect of people’s lives, no longer just a luxury. For instance, if people previously traveled to mountainous regions like Gatlinburg, TN, for leisure and recreational purposes, their motivations and preferences may have evolved.
People now seek both relaxation and meaningful experiences alongside adrenaline-pumping activities. Travel enthusiasts have come to realize the significance of truly immersing oneself in a new environment.
Below, we’ll discuss further prevalent trends in the travel industry.
The trend of pet-friendly vacations is evident in GWI Travel’s latest findings. Surprisingly, over 10% of millennials plan to travel with their pets. This inclination stems from the increase in puppy purchases during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Now, new dog owners consider their furry companions as travel buddies. This phenomenon extends beyond domestic vacations, as dogs are now part of the travel experience in various settings.
Accommodation providers have noticed the rising demand for pet-friendly experiences. As such, hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals have adopted policies to accommodate furry guests, especially in tourist-loved regions like Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg, a picturesque city in Tennessee and gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, attracts roughly 11 to 12 million visitors yearly. So, you’ll easily find pet friendly cabins in Gatlinburg TN, offering spacious floor plans, mesmerizing views, and comfortable furnishings for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy.
Sustainable travel takes center stage in decision-making. Travelers prioritize ethical tourism, cultural appreciation, and responsible impact. Virtuoso reports that 75% of its customers are willing to spend more on sustainable travel experiences.
Implementing sustainability can be simple. Offering special rates for off-season travel helps fill rooms and attract repeat bookings. Making environmentally conscious changes like switching to LED lighting or installing solar panels contributes to sustainability.
Certain changes require more investment but yield long-term benefits. Likewise, encouraging travelers to pack light reduces their carbon footprint.
Staycations remain popular even with expanded international travel options. Approximately 90% of individuals are planning a domestic vacation within the next year.
Proximity to nature, coastal areas, and the opportunity to visit family and friends are top reasons for choosing domestic travel. Additionally, 55% of individuals prioritize enjoyment and relaxation during domestic vacations.
The enduring popularity of staycations signifies a desire for meaningful experiences closer to home. Travelers find fulfillment in the simplicity and accessibility of domestic travel options.
Train travel experiences a significant resurgence in 2023. Countries are expanding train routes, enhancing luxury, and offering discounts. Choosing trains over flights can reduce a traveler’s carbon footprint by up to 90% for the same distance covered.
Train travel surpasses air travel in terms of environmental responsibility and comfort. Faster boarding, spacious seating, and picturesque views make trains appealing. The industry fully embraces this trend in the travel landscape.
Booking and Cancellation Flexibility
Booking flexibility is crucial in the current travel landscape. COVID-19 restrictions and flight cancellations left travelers frustrated and financially burdened. Travelers now prioritize factors like free cancellation and rebooking options when booking a trip.
Seamless cancellation and rebooking processes are also important, providing hassle-free mechanisms for modifying itineraries. Travelers want peace of mind through free and flexible booking policies.
Workcations, combining work and leisure, are gaining popularity. Hybrid work models and remote work post-pandemic allow employees to choose work locations. This flexibility paves the way for workcations.
Working remotely while on vacation allows individuals to be productive and enjoy a change in scenery. Workcations respond to changing work dynamics and the desire for flexibility among employees.
Gen Z Travel
The travel industry trends and changes in traveler behavior owe much to Gen Z, the generation hit hardest by the pandemic. From online learning to spending their formative years indoors, they have experienced its effects profoundly.
They call it “revenge travel,” and its intensity matches the name. Like many other travelers, Gen Z has spent years compiling a list of destinations and experiences they seek to explore. In 2023, they are determined to check off as many items on that list as possible.
Uniqueness is key for Gen Z. They crave experiences that compel them to leave their comfort zone. As hoteliers, it’s important to promote unconventional activities that guests can enjoy during their stay. Whether incorporating exotic local spices into your menu or offering transfers to less-visited sites or museums, embracing the unexpected can give your property a competitive edge.
Recent statistics show a growing trend of people opting for solo travel. One of the greatest advantages of embarking on a solo trip is the ability to customize your experience entirely. Unlike group or companion travel, you can plan every aspect of your journey according to your preferences.
Moreover, solo travel allows for moments of contemplation and self-rejuvenation. It simplifies the process, lightens the load, and brings a sense of adventure.
Traveling alone is a delightful and fulfilling experience that offers ample opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery.
COVID-19 Fears Fading
After a period of uncertainty and concern, consumers’ confidence in travel is gradually rising, with COVID-19 worries no longer taking the top spot. When asked about the most important factors when choosing a destination, factors like fun, excitement, sights, attractions, and cost/value for money outranked concerns about COVID-19 status and restrictions across all generations.
While 32% of travelers consider COVID-19 entry requirements in their booking decisions, and 28% factor in COVID-19 case numbers, these figures pale in comparison to the importance placed on free cancellation/rebooking options (38%) and hygiene standards (36%). While travelers are still mindful of COVID-19 risks, they have shifted their focus to other priorities.
Highlighting flexible booking policies and positive hygiene reviews are likely to be more influential than COVID-19-related assurances in attracting potential travelers.
The travel industry is embracing the abovementioned trends and adapting to travelers’ changing preferences and needs. By providing pet-friendly experiences, promoting sustainability, offering attractive staycation options, embracing train travel, ensuring booking flexibility, catering to Gen Z travelers, and highlighting the benefits of solo travel, businesses can create more enjoyable and fulfilling travel experiences. As travelers regain confidence and prioritize other factors, the industry moves forward with a renewed sense of adventure and optimism.