December 28, 2022
The travel industry has been turned upside down in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting shifts in how people wanted to get out of town.
Travel remains a high priority for most people, with global tourism arrivals forecasted to increase by 30% in 2023, following growth of 60% in 2022, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Tourism Outlook 2023. However, these numbers still don’t reflect a complete return to pre-pandemic levels.
It’s time to look closely at what we see developing for 2023 travel trends. More significantly, we’ll dive into how destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and tourism operators can tap into these trends to start the year strong.
In this blog post about travel trends heading into 2023, we’ll provide insights on:
Travel industry trends in review
Developing 2023 travel trends
How DMOs and tourism operators can tap into trends
Why betting on tech continues to pay off for marketers
Travel industry trends: a year in review
Even the most seasoned marketing pros were unsettled by the past few years in the travel industry. For example, if you were accustomed to attracting international visitors, you may have had to pivot swiftly to more regional or local marketing campaigns.
We shared our predictions for travel industry marketing strategies for 2022, plus ideas on how to stay flexible and adapt your strategy to evolving travel trends. Consumers had to assess risk, postpone holidays, and change plans to a degree most had never encountered before.
Many of these shifts and adaptations are still valid today as we enter into what Expedia calls “the no-normal” year of travel.
Once people could travel and felt comfortable boarding flights and crossing borders, their priorities changed. Many people had missed out on multiple trips and were now looking for significant experiences to make up for what they’d missed. Some wanted a luxury trip that felt like a splurge; others wanted rich, local experiences wherever they landed.
In all cases, you should count on visitor expectations to remain high, with a constant need for easily accessible information and updates.
Developing 2023 travel trends
With these insights, we can make predictions about the year ahead and how travellers may gather travel information, compare destinations, and plan their trips.
Here are a few trends we see taking shape for 2023:
1. Inspiration from entertainment
In recent years, streaming services have been delivering compelling storytelling through movies and series that allow viewers to escape their daily lives and imagine adventures in entirely new locations. It’s no surprise that trending shows are influencing travel as people return to trip planning and looking for new experiences.
2. Cities and crowds more appealing
As restrictions tightened and eased over the past few years, travellers looked for ways to get out of town that did not increase their overall risk. These consumers looked for travel experiences that would get them out of their homes and cities, but perhaps kept them from highly populated areas or busy indoor venues. Today, people are less nervous about crowds and other travellers, and are more likely to book city visits and other busy destinations than they were a year or two ago.
3. Sustainable travel
In 2023, travellers will be looking for more transparency from tourism operators about sustainable practices and even accreditation to help make more conscious decisions when trip planning, reports Booking.com. With these expectations will come the need for more responsible travel as guests seek to understand the impact of their travels on local communities.
4. Cost sensitivity will vary
Many people have gone through tumultuous times with work and income over the past few years, and an economic downturn has only exacerbated worries for those already feeling the pinch. Others may have held off on travel for a year or two and will soon be ready to splash out on a memorable trip.
5. Privacy concerns
Data security is a growing concern for most people who are active online. After years of trading personal information for the convenience of apps and social media platforms, consumers are becoming cautious about exposure in digital spaces. Review how you collect and use data, and offer appropriate reassurances to your guests that their information is safe in your hands. Be aware of how you gather and store data and be proactive about protecting your visitors.
6. Better tech and digital experiences
Consumers spend significantly more time online now than ever. Travel marketers need to anticipate that their audiences are researching trips, checking where their friends and family have been visiting, and looking for elevated experiences online. Travel marketing tech, like interactive webcams that target audiences effectively, will push specific destinations into the lead as travellers make decisions.
How destination marketing organizations and tourism operators can tap into trends
Creating marketing strategies in uncertain times requires creativity, innovation, and flexibility. Paying close attention to the audiences you are trying to reach and the needs of these potential visitors will always help keep your marketing sharp and effective.
To capitalize on these trends, review your marketing strategy and consider if the audience, message, and distribution channels feel a fit for each campaign you’re running. These categories may be different than they’ve been in the past.
Spend time researching to understand where potential visitors are getting their inspiration and create campaigns that build from these motivations. Look at trending movies, TV series, and even popular social media influencers to see where people may get ideas.
Why betting on travel tech trends continues to pay off
Technology investments that allow you to stay competitive in crowded markets tend to pay off in the long run. Over time, consumers have increased their time online, looking to be as informed as possible. The better an online experience you can offer these travellers, the more likely you’ll stand out and be their choice when booking.
Technology that allows you to provide a customized experience while protecting your guests’ privacy can appeal to wary travellers. Blurring details such as guests' faces or licence plates as a standard can help build confidence in your organization.
Ensuring that your guests receive all the benefits of an interactive webcam system while consistently demonstrating your commitment to privacy can be vital in building trust in a digital age that often leaves consumers exposed.
When marketing budgets are tight, you need to optimize every campaign for the best impact, deliver an immersive online experience, and support consumers in making informed decisions that feel right for them. The DMOs that can adapt and evolve are more likely to attract visitors and deliver an experience they won’t soon forget.
Ready to learn more about fine-tuning your travel marketing to be sure it aligns with changing 2023 travel trends? Download our 6-step guide to help you assess marketing gaps and find solutions to best serve your visitors and stay ahead of competitors.