Last year, road trips continued to reign supreme for many North American travelers, air travel started to rebound, cruise enthusiasts finally hit the high seas again, and the industry maintained its path toward recovery. Although COVID-19 continues to impact the travel industry—and travelers—the clear path forward is adapting and creating new realities for travel, and agility remains key to success.
According to the latest findings from the Expedia Group Traveler Value Index: 2022 Outlook, which surveyed 5,500 adults in eight global markets, 8 in 10 travelers are planning to take at least one leisure trip in the next six months. To help marketers plan for the year ahead and capture leisure travel demand, we’re highlighting 2022 industry trends based on the latest data and insights from 300 petabytes of Expedia Group first-party data and custom research.
Below are a few of the trends we expect to see for destinations and car rental companies in 2022.
1. Travelers Will Invest in Travel – and Themselves
The study found that 54% of travelers expect to spend more money on travel than they did pre-pandemic, with American, British, Australian, and Canadian travelers planning to spend the most. On the flip side, Japanese and Mexican travelers expect to spend the least. This may be due to stringent travel regulations or travel preferences.
Regardless of travel budgets or spending intentions, there is a wide-reaching opportunity for travel marketers to appeal to travelers with discounts, promotions, and special offers. Those who are already expecting to spend big may be more open to investing in discount upgrades or ancillary items that improve the overall travel experience, while those who plan to spend less may be influenced by deals and discounts that align with their budget.
In addition to the financial investment, travelers will invest in their personal wellness through future travel. According to Expedia’s 2022 Travel Trends Report, more than one-third (36%) of U.S. travelers are searching for a sense of contentment and mental wellbeing on their next trip. In 2022, 38% of Americans are most looking forward to a trip experience that allows them to relax and do nothing. Marketers can lead with visuals or messaging that highlight opportunities for travelers to disconnect, decompress, and get away from it all.
2. Car Travel Will Lead, Driven by a Desire for Quick Trips
Though all modes of transportation are expected to see a lift in 2022, car travel continues to be the leading choice for travelers around the world. 7 in 10 travelers plan to take a car trip—which includes a personal vehicle or rental car—in the next 12 months. Americans (77%), followed by French (73%), Australian (73%), and Canadian (72%) travelers are most likely to travel by car in the next 12 months. Rental car marketers should continue to engage with a broad demographic audience to inspire travel, but a focused effort on travelers from these regions is most likely to create opportunities to engage and convert.
In addition to regional targeting, marketers can promote deals and discounts for quick trips or long weekend getaways. Car travelers (83%) prefer more frequent, shorter trips, so incentivizing them with a great deal—and providing an excellent experience—could help drive repeat business with this receptive and eager-to-travel audience.
3. Travelers Will Adapt Plans and Preferences to Safely Get Away
After living in the pandemic for nearly two years, consumers have learned how to travel under the circumstances, based on their comfort level, and they will continue to adapt and evolve their travel behaviors and preferences as the landscape changes. For instance, 54% of travelers said they would pick a destination with COVID-19 safety protocols and 49% would choose a less crowded destination. Furthermore, 62% of travelers would follow local COVID-19 guidelines in an effort to adapt their travel specifically because of the effects of the pandemic.
These findings indicate that health and safety guidelines and COVID-19 protocols may re-emerge as an important factor in traveler decisions. Markers should continue to highlight this information to help travelers make responsible travel decisions and take appropriate precautions.