Due to the global lockdown and a litany of travel restrictions, tourism slumped in 2020, which was the worst year on record according to the World Tourism Organization. But with myriad international borders opening in 2021, travel is now seeing a rebound.
Although airline, hotel and tour bookings have seen an increase over the past six months or so, travel these days is decidedly different than in 2019. From transportation to accommodations to activities , the travel landscape continues to change, as the coronavirus mutates, including the fast-spreading Omicron variant – requirements and restrictions are evolving and a new normal is taking shape.
Travelers are staying in one place longer, seeking more local experiences and spending more, according to a trend report compiled by Zicasso, an online luxury travel benchmark service headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. money on vacation than before the pandemic.
To get a glimpse of what to expect this year, we spoke to a select group of luxury travel experts who provided insight into four travel trends that have gained momentum and are likely to take hold. center stage throughout the year.
Organized solo trip
There has been a steady increase in the number of people booking solo trips over the past decade, as the benefits of traveling alone are numerous. Solo travelers can tailor an itinerary to their personal interests, set their own schedule, and change plans quickly. Plus, taking a trip alone often encourages people to meet new people and pursue adventures they wouldn’t otherwise.
After all the uncertainty of the past two years, more and more travelers are choosing to book trips for themselves, sometimes flying away for solitude, but also to forge new relationships. Lauren Bates, founder and CEO of Wild Terrains, a Washington, D.C.-based travel agency that organizes women-only trips for solo travelers, says women, in general, are no longer putting off their vacations. Rather than waiting for a partner, friend, or family member to embark on that much-needed escape, people are going solo. “If they want to take a trip on the to-do list, they book it now,” she says.
But solo travelers are ready to meet other people on package tours, so they’re not alone 24/7. For this year, the women are “prioritizing travel experiences that will introduce them to other like-minded women,” Ms Bates says. She thinks women who may have traveled the world alone before the pandemic are now seeking community travel experiences.
“Travelers tend to be curious, open-minded, adventurous and optimistic souls, otherwise they would stay home,” adds Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder and CEO of Indagare, a members-only boutique travel planning company. in Manhattan. “They tend to share a lot of values and form deep friendships. Many have found lifelong travel companions because they signed up for a solo trip and now have a community to travel with.
Whether they’re flying off to a faraway place or venturing down the road, generations of families travel together. Zicasso reports that bookings for six or more people grew 57% from 2019 to 2022. Sometimes these vacations are celebratory trips in honor of a milestone birthday or anniversary. And some are just a pretext to get together and make up for lost time.
“Multi-generational family travel is more popular than ever,” says Brian Tan, CEO and Founder of Zicasso. “Especially with grandparents planning to take their grandchildren on an international trip in 2022.” Due to their natural beauty, culinary scenes and cultural offerings, trending destinations include Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Beyond Europe, there’s tons of interest in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Egypt, Zicasso reports.
Mrs. Bradley agrees. “We are definitely seeing an increase in family reunions and families wanting to travel together again now that there are fewer travel restrictions,” she says. “We recently planned a multi-generational trip to Galapagos for a family of 22 of all ages. People really crave shared experiences and quality time together because of time apart or isolated time in one place.
Another trend Ms Bates has noticed is cross-generational travel for women’s groups, more so than before Covid-19 hit. “We are seeing an increase in demand from women of different ages who want to travel together,” she says. Because the pandemic has kept families from coming together for so long, more mothers, daughters and friends of various ages are joining Wild Terrains trips.
The pandemic has sparked a surge in private travel, from planes to yachts to villas and secluded getaways, as people seek certainty and more leeway while fleeing reality.
“With private aviation, there is no risk of last-minute flight cancellations,” says Andy Christie, group director of private jets at UK-based Air Charter Service. In an era of evolving travel restrictions, private jets ignore the stress factor, with the option of changing flight times or even changing destinations, he explains. Likewise, chartering a yacht offers the freedom to travel at your own pace while reveling in luxury.
Chris Brunning, co-founder and managing director of London-based Untold Story Travel, a team of travel specialists specializing in private and extravagant travel, reports renewed interest in Nordic destinations, particularly for the northern lights in Iceland. and the Lapland region of Finland, “with at least 25% opting for private charters or private wilderness properties with a dedicated chef and staff.” It also confirms that guests planning to travel for summer 2022 are booking their own guides and private villas or suites, including butler service. Meanwhile, Mr Brunning says private island takeovers are up 15-20% for 2022.
An example is Guana Island, a private resort in the British Virgin Islands. The Caribbean hideaway, which includes seven beaches, space for 36 people with 28 acres allocated per person and no public facilities, promises a wonderful setting and privacy galore. The property has a slew of reservations on the books through spring, says Guana Island general manager Andrew Marston. “Travelers seem to crave that sense of comfort that comes with staying on a private island,” he says.
The Global Wellness Institute says the wellness market will grow 10% per year and reach $7 trillion by 2025. That’s no surprise, as the importance of wellness has become crystal clear during the pandemic. Everything that comes with an active and healthy lifestyle has seeped into our way of life and also entered the travel space.
“Covid has definitely shown us that there’s never been a better time to focus on self-care, health and wellness,” says Ms Bradley. Its clients seek escape to renowned wellness retreats such as Schloss-
Elmau in Germany, Blackberry Mountain in Tennessee, Miraval and Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and Cal-a-Vie in Vista, California. These retreats are located in remote surroundings, offering an idyllic setting and a change of scenery from everyday life, while leaving time to focus on yourself.
“People are drawn to them because they provide nurturing environments where wellness experts can introduce self-care routines and the latest learnings around healthy living,” adds Bradley. Travelers immerse themselves in wide open spaces and relaxing, zen habitats.
Ms Bradley says requested activities range from cooking classes to group hikes and meditation circles.
“I think you’re going to see this idea continue as people look for ways to feel rejuvenated and improve the quality of their lives through travel,” she says.
This story first appeared in Mansion Global Experience Luxury on February 26, 2022.