By Meghan Keough
Senior Director, Business Development Expedia Group Media Solutions
24 January 2023
It’s been a couple of challenging years for the hotel industry, but it seems as if the sun has finally broken on the horizon.
With travel demand continuing to increase – 46% of consumers said travel is more important to them now than it was pre-pandemic – this offers more hotel advertising opportunities than the past few years. Our recent custom research gives us in-depth insights into what travelers are looking for, the latest hotel trends, and what travel professionals are prioritizing.
Whether you’re a proprietor of a small property or a hotel revenue manager at a large chain, our findings will help you understand the current trends in the hospitality industry.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the trends we’re seeing for the year, and how this can help you create the best marketing strategies to build and grow your business.
Traveler and hotel industry trends
Our research included 11,000 consumers and 1,100 travel professionals from 11 major markets. What we’ve learned from their responses is that travelers’ views have changed as the pandemic has waned.
After the first wave of the pandemic was over, hotels successfully promoted the efforts they were making to ensure that cleanliness was a top priority to ease travelers’ concerns. One of the key findings in our research is that travelers are less concerned with health and cleanliness now than they were previously. While safety and cleanliness remain important, lower prices are now more of a priority than minimizing exposure to Covid and exceptional experiences are seen as being worth the price of travel.
Source: Expedia Group Media Solutions
The top three priorities for travelers when booking travel are:
While price is top of mind for travelers, many industry professionals don’t view the importance of price in the same light.
Source: Expedia Group Media Solutions
More than one half of consumers place an emphasis on cost, but less than a quarter of industry professionals do. This cost-conscious approach to booking travel persists: 60% of consumers said “getting the right price” is the most important feature when they’re looking to book.
People are also traveling with purpose. Top motivators for travelers include physical and mental health (49%), change of scenery (49%) and making up for lost time (46%). Think about how you can tie in cost savings at your property with the motivators consumers cite. For example, can you highlight cost-effective stays that provide a relaxing, retreat-like atmosphere or offers that combine experiences like scuba diving with exotic beachside accommodations.
Business and international travel
Interest in international travel has increased, with 50% of consumers likely to travel internationally in the next 12 months or have already booked a trip. This is a positive sign: In mid-2020 only 12% of people had the same travel plans.
Business travel is also up: One third of consumers said they’re planning a business trip. With this growth in business travel, we’re also seeing the return of “bleisure” (extending a work trip) and “flexcations” (remote work extended stays). This provides an opportunity to connect with bleisure travelers who are looking for a vacation experience or appeal to remote workers by highlighting local experiences and sharing insider’s tips to the area.
Hotel travel professionals have an optimistic outlook for 2023 and outrank other industries when it comes to believing that travel demand will return to previous levels this year – if they haven’t already returned. Our first-party data backs this up: In the second quarter of 2022, lodging bookings were the highest in Expedia Group history, with gross bookings up 8% from the second quarter of 2019.
Sustainability and accessibility
Travelers are interested in sustainability and inclusivity when they’re looking to book: 70% of consumers said they are more likely to choose travel options that are more inclusive – and this is where consumers depart from price sensitivity and said they would opt for inclusive options, even if it’s more expensive. When it comes to sustainability, two in three consumers said they want to know what sustainable policies are in place.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.