Globally, there has been a clear shift in the behaviors of business and leisure travellers over the last three years. But what does that mean for the travel landscape in 2023? Tim Cordon, chief operating officer, Middle East and Africa at Radisson Hotel Group shares his five trends that he believes will shape travel this year.
Business travel has returned
Remote and hybrid working models having become the new normal and in many cases form part of the criteria for employees when selecting their next employer. Out of this came the fear that remote work meant business travel would never recover to pre-pandemic levels. However, the demand for business travel returned in 2022 as many companies looked to re-instill human connections, reconnect teams, and attend conferences. In fact, according to Expedia Group’s Traveler Value Index 2023, approximately 32 per cent of individuals are planning to take a business trip in the next 12 months, including 62 per cent of remote workers. Moreover, 85 per cent of business travellers said they are excited to travel for work, with millennials (45 per cent) and Gen Zs (40 per cent) being the most likely to be travelling for work this year.
Experiential tourism is on the rise
Experiential tourism is a form of tourism in which people focus on experiencing a country, city or particular place by actively and meaningfully engaging with its history, people, culture, food and environment. As such, experiential travel and adventure activities are now crowned as the next big growth segment. According to a travel and activities report on ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global market for Tours and Activities Reservations is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 7.7 per cent during the 2020-2027 period, while the segment is estimated to reach US$266.7 trillion by 2027.
Travel spending will go up again
Despite record-high inflation rates being experienced globally, travel spend is predicted to increase this year. “This could be for a number of reasons,” Cordon says. “But perhaps most obvious, is the fact that during the pandemic many individuals were not able to travel as readily as before. Having saved money during this period, these individuals have a large sum of capital at their disposal and are eager to spend on unique experiences.” A survey issued by Booking.com found that 49 per cent of its respondents reported that they are likely to spend more on their next trip to make up for lost time, whilst 43 per cent of respondents shared that they are willing to go all out when it comes to costs. Perhaps more interesting, is the fact that according to Expedia, 80 per cent of younger travellers are willing to spend more to upgrade their experience.
AI and tech will play a big role in enhancing travel
For hotels, one of the most exciting uses for artificial intelligence is providing assistance to customers online, through the use of chatbots and instant messaging apps. With a growing demand from consumers for faster response times on online platforms, artificial intelligence is able to respond to this demand at a rate that is almost impossible for humans to do. In addition to this, the industry is witnessing an emerging trend in which the technology is being used for face-to-face customer service interactions. The result being the ability to cut queues at information or reception desks and ultimately improve overall efficiency. Beyond customer service, AI can be applied to collect and process data to draw conclusions about customers, business practices and pricing strategies.
Wellness tops the priority list
“Wellness appears to top the lists of what our guests want out of a trip,” notes Cordon. “For the hotel industry, this comes in many forms. Not only does it mean that the spa offerings need to be of a high standard, but it means that menus need to cater for healthier lifestyles and that additional activities outside of the hotel that encourage exercise and movement need to be promoted too.”