January 26, 2022

While the Omicron variant along with intense winter weather has started the year with major travel disruptions, at MMGY Global we ushered in 2022 with continued optimism. The “Winter Edition” of our quarterly Portrait of American Travelers study found that U.S. travelers have maintained a positive outlook. In particular, Boomers from affluent households are significantly bullish on spending intentions while Millennials lead all generations with the number of trips planned. 

Interestingly, though vaccinated travelers expressed a higher level of concern for contracting or spreading COVID-19 than non-vaccinated travelers, the fear is not generally keeping them from traveling. They are more likely than those who are unvaccinated to stay in a hotel and take a flight during the next six months.

As travelers increasingly accept health risks as manageable due in part to rising vaccination rates, MMGY Travel Intelligence predicts that the next year will be characterized by growth in vacation length-of-stay metrics, travel farther from home and a higher proportion of “major vacations” in lieu of more frequent local getaways. At the same time, overall segment growth may be somewhat tempered by rising consumer travel prices, limited availability in high-demand destinations and operational challenges caused by a tight hospitality labor market.

The following is a summary of trends and industry shifts that MMGY NJF has compiled from recent media feedback, widespread coverage, industry conferences and webinars:


  • The New York Times’ “52 Places for a Changed World” – Every year, The New York Times releases a list of the best places to travel; this year, the focus is where to explore the world without disrupting habitats. Examples included Chioggia, a town near Venice, Italy, that acts as a valve for overtourism, and The Great Highway in San Francisco, which is a pedestrian-only two-mile throughway and is a model for post-pandemic urbanism.
  • Where to Go in 2022 – From far-flung destinations to hometown favorites, Travel + Leisure has put out its list of the 50 best places to travel in 2022, while Afar’s “Where to Go in 2022” highlights 39 destinations where your visit will really count. Barron’s PENTA “Where to Travel in 2022” lists urban and untouched wilderness destinations perfect for luxury seekers, and TripSavvy’s editors compiled a list of intriguing destinations that offer unique experiences. The Washington Post spoke to travel advisors and tour operators to find out their recommendations for 2022, and TravelPulse published travel advisor insights that include the rise of travelers interested in multigen getaways, longer trips, bucket list experiences and revenge spending.
  • Hotel Business’ Top Trends to Look for in 2022Hotel Business kicked off the new year by releasing the top three hospitality trends to prepare for, including an increasing demand in contactless tech, the emergence of remote workers, and leveraging personalization to attract the “revenge traveler.”


  • Bloomberg Media CEO Founds News Startup – Bloomberg Media Chief Executive Justin Smith stepped down to found a new media company, and he tapped New York Times media columnist Ben Smith to lead its future newsroom. Smith states his new media company will serve unbiased journalism to a global audience and provide a high-quality platform for the best journalists in the world.

  • NBC Sports Network Shutters – Rather than sell off the channel to a competitor or rebrand it, NBC Universal shuttered NBC Sports Network channel, which once had the goal of competing head to head with ESPN. NBC Universal has chosen to move most of the high-profile sports content like the NHL games to several other media properties including broadcast network NBC, cable network USA Network, and its new online video service Peacock.
  • Sports Illustrated launches “Sports Illustrated Weekly” podcast On January 19, Sports Illustrated and iHeartMedia launched a new weekly podcast that will be released every Wednesday. It’s part of a larger audio content partnership that will also result in additional podcasts co-produced by the two entities.


  • Skift Megatrends: Defining Travel in 2022Skift’s Megatrends for 2022 released this week and noted that travel is colliding with some of the biggest challenges of the present and future — climate change, equitable and sustainable growth of travel, and human mobility around the world. A few key takeaways:

    • Uncertainty is the new certainty, as companies are taking uncertainty into consideration for their future forecasting. Those that are flexible with a greater diversity of business lines will perform the best against unknowns.
    • Travelers want to be greener, and travel industry investors and shareholders are exerting pressure on corporations to invest in climate change resilience.
    • Travel’s super mobility aided by digitalization, remote work and competition for skilled labor will drive enormous growth in the travel industry, while also exposing extreme global inequalities.
    • Tourism boards will continue embracing a “locals first” approach, emphasizing residents’ input on tourism management to ensure a sustainable local economy.
    • Volatile booking patterns due to remote working and other factors will provide unforeseeable opportunities with plenty of upside for destinations and travel companies.
    • Remote working will continue to define a new socialization for business travel, which will be based around places and spaces that turbocharge employee gatherings.
    • The ongoing post-pandemic urge for nature and rural escapes has inspired a new kind of overtourism, creating a need to craft innovative solutions to manage the impact on communities and the environment.
    • Mid-sized markets may lose out to big players in the events market as businesses become more selective about attendance. Companies will prioritize and choose fewer events to attend, skipping the rest. Smaller, community-based events will survive, creating opportunities for destinations to push local events.
    • More vacationers are flying in the “premium leisure” category, prompting airlines to make big investments to take advantage.
  • Wellness Is Here to Stay – The United States accounted for nearly 30% of the global wellness tourism market in 2020, and the sector is expected to grow to $919 billion in 2022 from $735.8 billion in 2020, according to the Global Wellness Institute. In a recent American Express survey, 76% of respondents said they wanted to spend more on travel that improves their well-being, and 55% said they would be willing to pay extra for these services or activities.
  • Positive Outlook for Spas and Related Programming – Hotel and resort spas experienced a 42% dip in revenues, while destination spas, which offer an immersive experience, were down 37%, according to a report by the Global Wellness Institute published in December 2021. The wellness industry has since begun a rapid recovery, the report said, projecting that the spa sector will grow 17% annually through 2025. Before the pandemic, a wellness trip may have centered on a spa’s traditional services. Now, hotels may offer nature walks, meditation, yoga or any number of creative offerings.
  • Tour Operators Remain Positive – Tour operators say that while there has been a slowdown in new bookings recently, the impact of Omicron on existing bookings in the present and near-term remains minimal, and prospects are generally positive for 2022.