2023 Expert Outlook on Travel Trends
The future of travel is staying close to home
Riani Kenyon, Behavioural Analyst, Canvas8 writes that post-pandemic many people are choosing to stay close to home or not travel at all.
Discussions with Canvas8 industry experts revealed that the future of getaways will be close to home, with staycations and micro-vacations becoming the go-to for people who are hungry for adventure. Alongside this, value-driven tourism will appeal to people who are willing to splurge despite the financial pinch on people’s wallets.
The allure of staycations is not only fuelled by the current economic climate - many people are also more eco-minded and want to avoid excessive CO2 emissions that are produced by flights. However, people see eco-tourism as a luxury and their pockets are in a pinch, so micro-vacations are the way to go this year, as spurred by young travellers and newlyweds in China. This is also occurring specifically in Zhongwei, located in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northern China which is home to the Yellow River and sections of the Great Wall. There is a luxury glamping site which entices young urbanites to engage with local nature without giving up their creature comforts.
Even now that restrictions on travel have been lifted in China, over half (51%) of the population plan to delay international travel, but for those who are tempted abroad their top choice is Hong Kong rather than farfetched lands. “There is a growing awareness that physical and mental wellbeing require regular leisure escapes and reconnection with the outdoors,” said Dr. Milena S. Nikolova, a leading expert in applying insights about human behaviour to travel and sustainability. This rewilding behavioural trend results in short escapes to nearby locations while avoiding the stress of flying, with service failures and cancellations. Dr. Milena S. Nikolova elaborates, “Planning a holiday that is within reach by rail or road and that is closer to home might be one of the patterns that will gain popularity.”
In Japan, a similar trend is taking place, with over a third (35%) of the population not intending to travel again and opting for local holidays instead. Appealing to this shift in attitudes, JR West offers travellers a chance to roll the dice to go to one of their ‘fateful destinations’ in the West of Japan, elevating hyper-local experiences through gamified serendipity. Other Japanese locals get onto planes that never take off, allowing diner to eat in ‘winged restaurants’ without leaving the country.
International travel is filled with obstacles which makes it difficult for families with children and people with pets, which is another reason why people choose local experiences, such as services provided by Road.Travel. Their affordable, curated itineraries take the stress out of planning a road trip, and their services are adaptable to people’s lifestyles, location, and budget. All they need is a car and knack for adventure - the rest is sorted! It allows people to explore nearby locations in the comfort of their own vehicle, with the flexibility to turn around or skip experiences as needed. Booking a getaway that is closer to home and easier to cancel last-minute could gain popularity with many people. Japan Railways East is offering a pet-friendly experience where owners can enjoy the train journey with their furry friends either on their lap or on the seat next to them.
Wrestling with flight disruptions and economic turbulence means flexibility and accessibility will appeal most to travellers, particularly since the post-pandemic travel hangover left many feeling unsure whether they should hit the ‘book’ button and pack their bags to explore international destinations. “The travel industry must keep in mind that people want to book later because they're unsure about their economic situation,” explains Alex Cheatle, CEO of the Ten Lifestyle Group, a leading global travel and lifestyle concierge company. “Also, people are slightly nervous about crossing borders if it's only for two or three days because it seems like a lot more hassle than it used to be. The airports aren't as much fun and the experience of going through immigration isn't much fun.”
However, for people who can splurge on international experiences, value-driven travel is still enticing people abroad. These eco-trips trips are offered by the Getaway Co which curates sustainable and vegan trips, while Visit Finland and Intrepid are both pushing for sustainable tourism that reflect the values of various tourists across the world. Simultaneously leaning into the hyper-local appeal and sustainable values, Culture Trip elevates community knowledge by collaborating with locals to lead the adventures, while carbon offsetting through sailing and train travel takes the forefront.
This ‘slow travel’ interest started blossoming as people emerged from lockdown, which began as a way for people to maximise where they travel to by taking their sweet time getting to getaway locations, but also spending longer in one place as people started to adopt WFH-styles. The ‘slow travel’ journey has stuck, but the expectation is that the holiday is the journey, not just the destination. This allows for opportunities to foster experiences that let travellers soak up experiences to amplify their holiday, without skimping on their eco-values.
However, certain shifts in the industry are appealing to adventure hungry travellers with tightening budgets by offering more accessible fancy flight options. “The recent news that American Airlines is looking to disband first class seats on many of its flights gives us a good indicator as to how the travel sector is going to react,” illuminates Cassam Looch, the content director at Culture Trip. “The decision is certainly led by economic factors as people just aren’t buying the top-tier offering when other options are available. But there’s more to it than just cutting costs.” This puts value-driven travellers, with a sense of adventure in a tight spot during the current economic crisis, since they might have to give up certain principles if they want to experience a luxurious way of travelling. This offers an opportunity to marry the allure of luxury with people’s values, rather than offering them a trade-off.
Overall, people are keen to travel, but the allure of local experiences amid financial frustrations is tempting to many. Paired with sustainable values and the interest in ‘slow travel’ this is the way forward for eco-minded travellers. Even for those who are tempted abroad and hungry for luxurious indulgences, there is scope to offer them a value-driven getaway rather than a Catch-22.
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