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It’s here: the end of another year. And what a year it’s been for the travel sector: from a considerable rebound in the first half of the year to economic shifts in the latter, never before has it been so vital for advisors to keep abreast of the many changes impacting our industry.
As we turn the page on 2022, we must also look towards the next chapter and consider: which trends will define 2023, and who are the travelers behind the bookings?
The Gen Z Traveler
As the youngest demographic able to book their own trips (the oldest being born in 1997), the title ‘Gen Z’ represents an audience that is, as yet, rather untapped. That said, there is much that we already know about Gen Z; namely, the importance of understanding their psychographics to win their custom.
So, what matters to the typical Gen Z-er? Here is a generation to which empathy and compassion matter most: they strive for diversity and equality, are dismayed by climate change, and are ultimately seeking to be understood. In summary, Gen Z-ers are likely to be considerate tourists, but with a list of expectations to rival the most discerning of travelers.
While some may unfairly view the Gen Z crowd as high maintenance, savvy advisors understand that sincere effort = high reward. According to a study by YouGov, Gen Z-ers are likely to spend more on travel versus other demographics (followed by millennials), while a separate study suggests that they have the greatest intention of traveling internationally – even in the face of economic downturn. And with long-haul destinations such as Japan and South Korea open for exploration, now is the perfect time to capitalize on a demand for far-flung escapes beloved by these fresh-faced explorers.
Where advisors will succeed in appealing to their Gen Z customers is through marketing materials which speak to their ideals: highlighting flexibility, personalization and (where possible) representation in your offers and on social media will set you apart from your competitors and capture the attention of this all-important traveler profile. The Flyer Creation tool – easily located from within The Compass – enables you to create flyers and marketing materials within minutes, allowing the creation of completely custom terms and conditions or the addition of unique imagery (such as logos or headers) per client. What’s more, your materials can be shared by email, saved as a JPG (ideal for social shares) or sent straight to the client via WhatsApp. This, supported by a portfolio of products which cater to their specific needs, will be key to securing the sale. Our Booking Engine can help you to deliver to their demands: search for ‘Green Hotels’, or discover experiences such as cultural or gastronomical tours in Activities.
The Luxury Traveler
Did you know that 43% of travelers are planning to increase their travel budget in 2023, even in spite of a looming recession? According to a study by Expedia, there has been an increased appetite for travel in the wake of the pandemic, with a massive 46% of those asked saying that travel is now more important to them than ever before. In times where customers are prioritizing getting away and willing to spend more, advisors should seek to position themselves plainly in the sights of eager bookers.
The luxury market is most likely to remain buoyant even in times of a potential economic downturn. Should you be able to cater to this particular sector, the rewards are doubtless: according to luxury providers Virtuoso, travelers are planning to increase their spending by 34% in 2023…equating to an average spend of $27,800. However, like the similarly-astute Gen Z crowd, luxury travelers are keen to express that ‘(travel experiences) that best fit my expectations are more important than price’ – in fact, a massive 75% agreed with the sentiment. But what exactly does that mean?
Anticipated trends for the luxury market in 2023 include trips to in-demand destinations (such as Japan, Italy and Montenegro), solo endeavors (including regenerative yoga retreats or spa weekends), yachting holidays, cultural immersion and, as is the case with most traveler demographics, sustainable escapes.
Being aware of leading trends in the luxury market will be critical to a successful 2023, but it’s equally as important to know exactly who these luxury travelers are. According to Forward Keys, customers from the USA, Germany and the UK are among the biggest spenders – and you can capture their imaginations with a wealth of top-end accommodation and activity options in our Booking Engine. Filter by Green, Beach, Golf or Design Hotels (to name but a few options), search by chain, or select must-have amenities (such as Private Pool, Spa or Hot Tub) to perfectly tailor your consultation to the client.
The Experiential Traveler
If there is one industry buzzword you’ll be unable to escape in 2023, it’s experiential.
Otherwise referred to as ‘immersion travel’, experiential travel is a type of tourism in which travelers seek to gain more from their holiday. This could be in the form of adventure travel, culinary travel, or through meaningful engagement with their host country – either its environment or its people.
But what is the appeal of experiential travel? Similar to the phenomenon of revenge travel, experiential travel seeks to remedy the feeling of loss that many travelers have suffered from over the past couple of years. Whether willing for the re-opening of borders or – casting our minds back further – waiting to get out at all, it is evident that the pandemic caused a shift in priorities for a large number of would-be tourists as now, more than ever, travelers are seeking to ‘feel the world’. Popular methods to regain this sense of connection include cultural immersion, food tours, wildlife encounters and active holidays – in short, travelers are seeking to awaken their senses, and this is something you can help them to do via the filters in our Booking Engine. Select options such as ‘Cooking Classes’, ‘Cruises and Watersports’ or ‘Outdoor Activities and Adventure’ to tailor the experience to your client. (Note: available filters will vary depending on the destination you’re searching in.)
For those among us who love nothing more than the thrill of a white-knuckle ride, the Bedsonline Booking Engine also has a section dedicated to theme parks – take a look and book the ultimate experience for your Disney, Universal or even Ferrari-loving clients.
The Sustainable Traveler
Sustainability has been a staple of the travel agenda for some time now, including here at Bedsonline: from our Green Hotels filter in the Booking Engine to our Plastic-Free Hotels initiative and ESG commitments, we know that our industry can be a force for good. With an estimated 90% of consumers actively looking for sustainable options when traveling, embracing this all-important trend is going to be key to the survival of our planet, and the success of your business.
That said, defining ‘sustainability’ and delivering on its many facets is a challenge that many agencies struggle with. To improve on a collective understanding of what sustainability really is, there are few options better than to turn to the travelers themselves – after all, they are the ones setting the expectations and leading the charge.
According to TripAdvisor, one of the 5 most common points in customer reviews for 2022 referred to the elimination of single-use plastics, providing evidence that this is an absolute priority for travelers. That said, sustainability doesn’t just refer to solar-powered accommodation or green smoothies on a plastic-free beach: it refers to the ways in which we’re able to support local economies by engaging with communities, spreading travel throughout the year (i.e ‘out of season’ travel in addition to peak time), and getting from A to B in as clean a way as possible – think trains versus planes, or electric car hire.
With all of that said, it is the responsibility of those of us within the travel industry to improve access to sustainable portfolio: choosing green accommodation should be an economically viable option, as well as being an attractive choice in other ways (whether for superficial or ethical reasons). Beyond hotels, it’s also important to rally behind communities, whether including a visit to a heritage site in your client’s itinerary or suggesting that they dine out in locally-run eateries rather than large chains. In doing so, you’ll not only delight your clients – you’ll be doing your part for the planet and the people who rely on our industry above all else.