11 Travel Trends DMOs Shouldn’t Ignore in 2022
Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, we knew there will be a long path until the complete travel recovery. In fact, it started when vaccination gained traction, but there is a long road until the travel industry reaches prepandemic numbers.
The virus changes and adapts to our body causing outbreaks over time. In response, governments implement restrictions to contain its spread. Unfortunately, no one knows for how long those measures will be necessary.
The fact is, travel started to accelerate this summer and has slowed down again over fall. The traveler is more cautious when planning their trip, and international travels are at a halt until the scenario is more clear next year. Uncertainty is the feeling all over travelers and travel companies as 2022 approaches.
What trends should DMOs expect for 2022 in order to plan marketing campaigns for their destinations?
This is what we will point out in this article.
1. Traveler will be looking for flexibility when planning a trip
This is a trend that started in 2020 together with lockdowns and travel restrictions and will continue in 2022.
Because of the uncertainty, people are opting to book only tickets they have a guarantee of a refund or a rebook. Travelers are not going to commit to a reservation unless they are sure they can cancel for any reason.
Booking apps and airlines are working on this trend to push sales amid changes in restrictions. Delta and United for instance have reintroduced flexibility for basic economy passengers.
In order to work around cancelations and the risk of losing a trip, travelers are also delaying bookings to the last minute. The wealthy ones are opting for “trip stacking”, that is, buying two trips over the same time period in case one of them is canceled.
2. Demand for domestic travel will remain stable and for international travel will be unstable
Domestic travel has risen since the beginning of this year, and this trend should continue for 2022.
Most of it is due to the instability Delta variant has caused. Countries that were handling well the pandemic in the summer now are considering going under lockdown again, Germany is one of them. As a reflex, people tend to travel nearby.
No one wants to be stuck in a foreign country if the local government decides to close borders, nor take the risk of receiving poor medical assistance if they get sick.
Bookings for international travel should start to rise by the middle of next year when more people will be vaccinated and the weather starts to warm up. Until then, domestic travel will remain the first option for most travelers.
3. Road trip will be the main travel modality in 2022
Next year people will travel more using private transportation rather than mass transportation. That is a way to avoid sharing a small place with strangers and also to have the flexibility to explore the destination surroundings away from the crowds.
Other reasons that contribute to the road trip trend are the flight route shortage and the fear of the flight getting canceled after arriving at a destination.
Even though travelers take a plane or a train to a destination, still they will prefer to rent a car when arriving there. Renting a car will be an issue in 2022 and it will cost more.
Better your destination be prepared for traffic gems and lack of parking spots due to the rise of vehicles.
4. Destinations receiving budget flights can expect more tourists
While traditional airlines have reduced the number of available seats this year, budget airlines have increased them. For the budget carriers, the downturn is an opportunity to expand their market share.
For the traveler, a canceled budget flight is not a big loss compared to a canceled flight booked with a legacy airline. Also, there are cheap flights available for many popular destinations, which makes them a good booking choice.
As a result, destinations receiving budget flights will see more travelers arriving compared to the ones that are not on their route.
5. Families will be cautious to travel with children under 12
Right now the vaccination for children under 12 is not recommended. This is a concern for parents thinking about traveling with their young children.
When planning a trip, they will look for places where they have more control over the environment they are exposing their children to. National parks could be a good destination for this kind of trip.
Also, families will look for road trips near home until there is a pediatric vaccine. That is another way for them to feel safe and have control over their trips.
6. There will be a preference for open space activities and nature
Despite global vaccination efforts, it will take a while until the pandemic is under control. Because of that, for the next years, it is expected that some habits will persist, like social distancing and wearing masks.
Looking for having fewer interactions with strangers and avoiding closed places, travelers will prefer to book trips to destinations where they can enjoy nature and open-air activities.
Coastal destinations and national parks will be a strong trend in tourism for 2022.
7. Long-haul bookings are expected to become true in 2022
After having their travel plans frustrated in 2020, people were determined to spend their savings this year. The thing is, the Delta variant came and plans had to be postponed once more.
Now, travelers have two years in savings to invest in the travel of their lives in 2022. The itinerary will involve not-conventional activities and last a couple of weeks. Operators are already reporting a rise in two or three-week bookings.
Those booking are going mainly to national parks, safaris, remote bear-watching lodges, and other destinations with unforgettable experiences.
3 travel trends for 2022 according to Google
A recent Google research gives a hint of what to expect from travel next year based on customer behavior.
The Ipsos survey commissioned by Google identified three key travel trends. Basically, there will be a rise in ”life moments”, travel will become more inclusive and travelers will look for purpose when booking a trip.
1. Meaningful travel
According to this survey, 56% of Americans are likely to participate in a life moment in the next two years. That is weddings, finding a new job, or moving. Most of the people interviewed, 78%, are considering travel related to those moments.
For 62% of Americans who have stayed in accommodations or booked a flight for a life moment, previous experience with a brand is important when booking.
Around 78% of this group also answered that flexibility and cancellation policies are important when deciding on a brand. For 85% of them, affordable prices are important.
Google also found that COVID safety guidelines and restrictions are important to 70% of travelers when deciding on a travel brand.
2. Inclusive travel
One conclusion of this research is that travel will become more inclusive. This is something DMOs should take into account when planning their future marketing campaigns.
A report from Google/Storyline Strategies indicates that cultural engagement is a key deciding factor for destinations. According to it, 86% of travelers of color have traveled abroad seeking a deeper connection with their roots.
Three in four travelers will seek out information specific to their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The top sources for this information are word of mouth, travel guide sites and social media influencers.
3. Purposeful travel
This trend isn’t new, but it has gained traction with the pandemic. Travelers are more conscientious and sustainability is definitely something they will take into account when booking in 2022. What changes is that data and insights will play a central role in their travel decisions next year.
More than half of travelers will make environmental considerations before deciding to travel. They will take a closer look at factors such as carbon emissions and offsets.
Additionally, 51% of travelers who stayed in accommodations or booked a flight for a life moment say sustainable/environmentally friendly options are important when deciding on a brand.
That is good news for eco-friendly destinations. If are not one of them, check this article about how to become a more sustainable destination.
Online will be the main channel for bookings in 2022
The internet is the main source of information for travelers when planning their trips. According to Google, travelers who took a large trip in the past year spent 71% of their time researching their trip online.
But travelers don’t use the internet only to research about the destination, accommodation and things to do. Online is travelers’ preferred mean for booking a trip. In 2020, 65% of worldwide sales in tourism and travel were made online.
A digital platform containing all the relevant information on the best local tours, activities and experiences and where travelers can book directly with travel suppliers is an investment DMOs should consider in order to leverage tourism in 2022.
Get to know how the Smart Destination initiative can help DMOs digitalize their tourism offer and reach a larger audience during travel recovery next year.
Travel is recovering slower than we were expecting, but despite all uncertainty, expectations are high for the industry in the next year.
As bookings for 2022 start to rise, we can notice some trends in traveler behavior. Flexibility, domestic travel, sustainability and meaningful trips are some of them.
DMOs and destinations should follow closely these and other trends to start planning their marketing campaigns for the next season.
Don’t miss our ebook Tourism Destination Marketing Strategies for DMOs. It is a valuable source of insights on how destinations should plan their marketing strategy for 2022.