With summer travel in full swing, it’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed when trying to plan your long-awaited summer vacation. While travel is on the rise, a few trends and patterns are emerging as well. We were invited to EXPLORE22 to cover the event and get a look at some of the newest innovations and trends in the travel world. We talked with Jennifer Andre, VP of Business Development, Expedia Group Media Solutions, about what’s new in the travel industry.
Travel Trends For Summer 2022
WT: What was the most unexpected new trend that you think came out of, like all of the weirdness?
Andre: I think the primary trend that we’ve seen is that during COVID, travel moved to domestic for obvious reasons. But another big trend that we have seen and is continuing is travelers really leaning into vacation rentals. So our virtual platform has been doing really well. But most recently, we just launched our Q1 Traveler Trend Report. In that report, we’ve actually seen, you know, the trend of vacation rentals continuing, but lodging is also coming back.
WT: When things started reopening, is there any particular destination that people seemed to flock towards once it was, like, safer to move around a little bit more easily?
Andre: Well, I think what’s come back is what have always been, you know, are top book destinations like Las Vegas.
One thing we’ve seen is an opportunity to disperse travelers. We’ve seen some regions now charging daytrippers to manage and control travelers that are coming in to visit. Amsterdam is not doing any marketing because they don’t need to do any. Majorca is not marketing to travelers in the summer. So I think there are a lot of destinations that want to control things a bit more.
A lot of our marketers during COVID had disbursement strategies to get people to take advantage of the fact that people were going over all destinations or trying to discover new regions. And so now we want to continue that it’s like yes, we want you to go to Amsterdam, but we want you to go to other parts of Holland as well.
I think the industry is really making a push to make sure that they are marketing so that we are spreading people out, so those top destinations aren’t getting overwhelmed, and that there is more of this flight to quality versus quantity. They want travelers to come and stay longer and spend more.
Low-cost carriers are bringing tons of travelers to these destinations, and destinations are figuring out how we manage that, so it’s an exciting time because we have an opportunity to solve some of these problems that we had before COVID. A lot of the popular destinations are coming back, but we’re also seeing travelers going to some of these more off-the-beaten-path places because COVID kind of led to those behaviors.
WT: Do you foresee a lot of companies have implemented a lot of new strategies and a lot of new protocols given like the cleanliness situation and safety and everything. Do you foresee them doing away with all of that completely, or do you think we’re going to kind of keep some of those in the back pocket, just in case?
Andre: During COVID, yes, travelers are very much saying that they were driven by the cleanliness message. But then, as the pandemic hasn’t necessarily receded, I think the latest version of that research showed that cleanliness wasn’t even in the top five considerations when booking travel. So I think it’s becoming less critical to travelers’ mindset in terms of how they’re making their decisions.
I think now, it’s more about, you know, the value of the experience, all of those things. I mean, people haven’t been able to get out and that during COVID, yes. If I’m going to travel, I want to ensure that my spaces are clean and sanitized.
WT: Have you seen anything interesting come up given gas prices lately?
Andre: So far, it hasn’t made a dent in the data; I think people are still taking road trips; they’re flying. I mean, the airports are packed, and it hasn’t hit. I believe that consumers are choosing travel and experiences over things. And you know, they’re allocating the money they’ve saved up during the pandemic when they couldn’t travel. Instead of buying a new product, they’re going on vacation.
Travel searches globally are up 35% this quarter compared to last quarter. It just kicks in as things open up and as restrictions go away. Especially things like mask mandates are impacting people and encouraging them to travel. So I think the more we open up borders, most countries have dropped their testing requirements. That’s helping drive demand.
I’m going to Singapore at the end of this month for business, but you know, it’s really daunting at first because there were all these crazy restrictions, and now they’ve dropped everything. For leisure travelers, deciding where they’re going to go, that makes a huge difference.