With the travel-heavy holiday season nearly upon us — and U.S. inflation rates hovering at near-40-year highs — now is a critical time for tourism- and travel-related businesses to get into the minds of North American travel consumers. And almost as if on cue, the travel- and tourism-focused marketing experts at Brandon sister company TravelBoom have released the results of their annual Leisure Travel Trends Study.
As usual, decision-makers at any business with a stake in the travel industry will want to read on. In addition to reporting the numbers, the 2022 Leisure Travel Trends Study provides an array of important and actionable insights, along with TravelBoom’s expert advice on leveraging the trends that the study has uncovered.
A sampling of the key insights offered
Highlights from the wealth of eye-catching information and key insights provided by the 2022 report include:
- Rising costs will impact leisure travel. According to survey results, nearly half (46.3%) of respondents named price as the No. 1 factor influencing their travel plans — marking a substantial increase from four years ago, when 37.9% reported price as their top factor. The price factor proved to weigh significantly heavier in travel consumers’ minds than an array of other leading factors, including work schedules (which 21% of respondents named as their top factor), special offers (9.4%) and school schedules (5.7%).
TravelBoom take: Following similar results from another recent TravelBoom study, our 2022 Leisure Travel Trends Study offers further confirmation of a clear developing trend: Today’s travelers are becoming significantly more sensitive to pricing.
- Two specific amenities significantly outweighed others in consumers’ minds. The availability of a pool and free parking were nearly universal requirements among travelers when making their lodging choices, with over half of respondents naming each among their top three amenity priorities. Free Wi-Fi, in-room kitchens and free breakfast rounded out the top five.
TravelBoom take: Electric car-charging stations didn’t spark many booking decisions at all, with only one respondent naming this amenity as a deciding factor when choosing a property. This service may well become a standard offering in years to come, but it appears that the infrastructure investment needed to make it happen can wait — at least for now.
- Changing shopping habits will have significant impacts on marketing strategies. For today’s tech-savvy consumers, most travel planning is being conducted more than three months out, and internet research proves to be both where most people begin their searches and the most influential factor in their final decisions. (Online travel agents and the hotel’s website rank second and third respectively in each of these categories.) As such, the strategies that properties employ to reach prospective travelers during the planning process will determine who wins their business.
TravelBoom take: Search engines, which are clearly king for consumers when starting the travel-planning process, should play a prominent role in any travel and tourism business’s marketing strategies. (Side note: Vacation-rental websites such as AirBnB.com and VRBO.com have been taking more market share from hoteliers over the past several years — and that trend doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.)
- COVID continues to influence travel. Even as pandemic-related travel restrictions have been greatly eased, COVID-19 is still a concern for a significant portion of North American travelers. (12.7% call COVID a major influence on their travel plans, and 42.3% call it a minor influence, while 0.7% say they will not travel at all due to COVID concerns.) But trends vary greatly depending on traveler location and demographics. Among Canadians, for example, 47% say COVID has a major influence on their travel plans or would prevent them from traveling — compared to only 13.5% of U.S. travelers.
TravelBoom take: To ensure they overcome traveler concerns, smart hoteliers should continue to tailor their messaging to the specific audience with whom they are speaking.
- Reviews determine a hotel’s ability to survive in 2022 and beyond. For a large majority of travelers, reviews and social proof are highly influential to their booking decisions. In fact, 82% of survey respondents said that they will not book a vacation property without first reading reviews, and nearly 40% said they use reviews to guide every step of their vacation planning.
TravelBoom take: Today’s travelers place a significant amount of trust in online reviews — including those appearing on a property’s own website, which makes including them a strong marketing tactic. Among the online review sites, TripAdvisor has the most traveler trust, with 62.4% of respondents calling it believable, very believable, or extremely believable. Yelp appears to suffer from a trust issue among surveyed travelers, with 14.3% saying Yelp’s reviews are not at all believable.
Get the full study 411 today
Conducted annually, TravelBoom’s Leisure Travel Trends Study seeks to foster a better understanding of how leisure travelers plan, choose and book their hotels when going on vacation. It also aims to identify both macro and micro trends in travel, the latter of which often hint at more significant changes that may be coming on the horizon.
If your business hinges in any way on understanding the methods and motivations of the American traveler, the 2022 TravelBoom Leisure Travel Trends Study is designed to help you grow your knowledge — and your bottom line. To download a full copy, complete with survey numbers and a wealth of TravelBoom takeaways and recommendations, click here.