The travel landscape has been nothing short of unpredictable over the past two years. As we enter a new year, variables remain – from changing government regulations to emerging variants. The good news, however, is that 81% of travelers plan to take at least one vacation with family and friends in the next six months, according to the latest findings from the Expedia Group Traveler Value Index: 2022 Outlook, which surveyed 5,500 adults in eight global markets.
To help our advertising partners develop the strategies in response to the shifting travel behavior we continue to see, we’ve highlighted 2022 industry trends across a variety of segments identified through data and insights from 300 petabytes of Expedia Group first-party data and custom research.
Below we explore some of the top trends that lodging providers can expect to see in 2022.
1. Travelers Extending Business Trips for Leisure
Bleisure trips—extending a work trip for leisure, or vice versa—rose to popularity years before the pandemic, and are increasingly making a comeback as business travel returns. During the pandemic, we’ve seen a new twist on bleisure with flexcations, a trend we expect to see continue into 2022. The research shows that 56% of those who often work remotely will take a bleisure trip in the next six months. Recent data from Vrbo also points to families continuing to take flexcations in 2022, with searches for 21- to 30–day stays on the platform having increased by 68%.
As lodging providers develop their marketing strategies and campaigns, it’s important to continue leaning into the flexcation trend by offering extended-stay deals and highlighting important amenities for travelers working remotely, such as business services or free Wi-Fi.
2. Travelers Prioritizing Discounts and Promotions
Earlier research showed that the means to book travel for a reasonable price is regarded as essential—in fact, a standard expectation—alongside hotel promotions that are resonating most with travelers. According to the latest Traveler Value Index findings, leisure travelers’ top three ranked promotions when booking a hotel stay online are lower rates for booking early, considered 4 to 12 weeks ahead of travel (52%), getting a lower cost by booking a flight and hotel package (44%), and receiving a free amenity (41%). These discounts are particularly popular in Europe, especially with French and German travelers. Also, nearly 2 in 5 consumers saved loyalty points during the pandemic, and in the upcoming year, 40% plan to pay for all or part of a trip using these points.
Adding promotions proved successful for South Korea’s Amber Hotel Jeju, which incorporated a free airport shuttle offering and restaurant discount promotion within a TravelAds Sponsored Listing to drive awareness of its newly renovated property. Even at a time when the market and its competitors experienced a dip, Amber Hotel Jeju saw strong room night demand from the campaign and continues to use customized copy in its sponsored listings to fill rooms and remain almost fully occupied.
3. Travelers Seeking Sustainable, Meaningful Experiences
As travel began its rebound, we saw the importance of sustainability emerge at the forefront of conversations. An increasing number of travelers are looking to minimize impact to the environment – even when doing so means spending more. In fact, 59% of travelers are willing to pay additional fees to make their trip more sustainable.
Beyond common sustainability considerations—such as limiting single-use plastic items or reducing how often sheets or towels are replaced during a stay—travelers are becoming more aware of the social and cultural implications of travel. Nearly half (49%) said they would choose a less crowded destination to reduce effects of overtourism; as a result, we’ll continue to see the rise of secondary cities. For example, secondary cities in several U.S. states, including Ohio, New York State, and Alaska, doubled in vacation rental demand year-over-year, according to Vrbo data. Travelers also seek experiences that allow them to fully immerse themselves in the local culture and experiences. Of the American travelers seeking their GOAT trip in 2022 (aka their Greatest of All Trips), 40% will try new foods. This is an opportunity for lodging providers in both emerging destinations and major metropolitan cities to highlight local culture, cuisine, and authentic experiences.
Iberostar Group is educating and inspiring travelers around its commitment to its local communities and environment, particularly the oceans, through its Discover Iberostar campaign. The interactive campaign features stunning images and thoughtfully curated information designed to inspire people to make more informed decisions on how they travel, and prompt them to consider their impact on destinations.
What 2022 will bring remains to be seen, so the ability to adapt your marketing strategies and channels continues to be critical in the competitive marketplace. Our suite of solutions can help you activate your marketing strategy based on the latest traveler insights. If you’re ready to get started, try our TravelAds Sponsored Listings, download the full Traveler Value Index: 2022 Outlook, or contact us to speak with a digital media consultant, so that we can help identify the right strategies and tools to action these trends and achieve your objectives.