Summer travel is in full swing despite ongoing inflation woes as well as record-breaking heatwaves in many parts of the U.S., U.K. and Europe. While the cost of living continues to rise, travelers on both sides of the Atlantic have overwhelmingly continued to make travel a priority. According to the “Summer Edition” of MMGY Travel Intelligence’s Portrait of American Travelers® study, more than 75% of U.S. adults plan to take a vacation in the next 12 months, with nearly half of all adults (48%) planning to travel this summer specifically. International travel intentions are holding strong as more Asia-Pacific countries increasingly “open up” to American travelers, with 76% expressing interest in traveling abroad during the next two years.
In the U.K., Daily Mail reported that “one third of the country plans to go abroad twice this year despite the cost of living crisis,” and The Sunday Times reported that travel is booming this year considering the public’s economic worries. They noted that people are finding ways to cut costs, whether it’s an increase in demand for all-inclusive breaks, families traveling in term time, or people booking shorter stays and dropping a star to cut overall costs.
The following is a summary of global travel trends and industry shifts that our PR teams in the U.S., U.K. and Europe have compiled from recent media feedback, widespread coverage, industry conferences and webinars:
TRENDS IMPACTING THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY AND MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES
- Global concert tours help reshape tourism: Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour have generated mass economic growth and instant inflation in the cities where they have toured, increasing hotel revenues, local economic spending and tourism as fans spend big on travel, lodging, food, fashion and makeup to attend the shows. Dubbed “Swiftonomics” and “Beyflation,” tourism spiked to pre-pandemic levels for many of the host cities. Destination marketers should anticipate the effect and plan to harness the power of large music tours by encouraging extending the length of stay and dispersal throughout the area. (Sources: STR, Bloomberg, Financial Times)
- Set-jetting: There is major interest from journalists in destinations that are used as film sets for current and upcoming films such as “Indiana Jones,” “James Bond” and “Barbie.” There has also been a rise in articles on destinations that are featured in video games such as California, Tokyo and the Himalayas.
- Alternative destinations and/or shorter trips to create savings: Travelers are finding ways to visit destinations similar to those on their bucket lists for a cheaper cost. Examples include Syros instead of Mykonos in Greece and the French city of Nimes instead of Paris. NBC News reports that summer travel in 2023 skews toward shorter, cheaper trips and road trips, with the exception of luxury travelers. Media are looking to cover cost-effective destinations, destinations that may be less visited or outside Europe’s major cities and capitals, and curated itineraries that allow visitors to stay in affordable accommodations and explore the region on a budget.
- Bespoke travel is the new luxury travel: According to MMGY Travel Intelligence only a third of travelers making more than $100,000 a year consider themselves “luxury travelers.” However, the ability to locate and book an adventure that others cannot is a new form of social currency. In fact, three quarters of travelers surveyed agree that the memories they take from vacations are more valuable than any material item they purchased in the last year. Media are looking to cover bespoke or “quiet luxury” stories about hotels and destinations that provide a high-end experience and service with more of a focus on how travel makes you feel. They are less inclined to cover flashy room service spreads or the softest mattress and pillows.
- Transformational retreats aid recharging: After a year of fun, energetic and lively travel following three years of pandemic shutdowns, Condé Nast Traveler expects to see travelers look inward this year by investing in themselves at transformative retreats around the world. Whether focused on yoga, silence, writing, meditation, spirituality or detoxing, transformational retreats may be in for a blockbuster year. In addition, there continues to be an acceleration in health and wellness travel including extensive spa offerings that go beyond the usual facials and massages to meditation practices and restorative treatments.
- LGBTQ+ families are the future of queer travel: Jenny Southan’s most recent Globetrender report, “The Future of Queer Travel,” states that destinations need to prepare for welcoming not only gay couples but LGBTQ+ families. Recommendations include traveling to countries where gay marriage is legal and Pride festivals are celebrated. The LGBTQ+ tourism market is expected to more than double in value by 2030.
- Global travel groups push ahead on animal welfare: As part of an ongoing movement to protect and prevent harm, tourism giant Thomas Cook announced it has stopped selling tickets to any attractions with captive dolphins, orcas or whales following a long campaign of public pressure and decreasing demand.
- Cannabis travel continues growth: MMGY Travel Intelligence noted more than a third of U.S. travelers stated interest in participating in a cannabis-related activity while on vacation while 31% voiced interest in cannabis products that could complement and enhance their culinary experiences.
- Book today, travel tomorrow: Hopper’s 2023 travel trend data shows travelers are booking flights and hotels in shorter booking windows than ever before. The window for U.S. domestic travel has shortened by almost 10%, with many bookings being made only three weeks out from travel time. Media are looking to cover last-minute vacations and staycations, including destinations that are less busy and easily accessible with only a few weeks to plan.
- Social Media and Visual Storytelling: Cision’s “The 2023 Global State of the Media Report” states that 44% of journalists use social media to pick up on trending topics, with TikTok continuing to rise. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram remain the top five social media platforms across the globe.
- Threads Launch: Meta’s new text-based platform app, Threads, launched broadly on July 6 and saw immediate adoption, with over 10 million people signing up for the service within the first few hours. The platform’s functionality is almost identical to that of Twitter’s, giving users the ability to reply to, repost and like their favorite content. Posts can be up to 500 characters long and videos can be up to five minutes in length. The follow functionality is intuitive, allowing users to quickly click to follow a new account directly from the feed, rather than having to navigate to the account’s page. Threads can also be easily shared to your Instagram story or shared as a link on any other platform of the user’s choosing. Meta’s goal behind Threads is for it to be a fun space that allows users to freely share their thoughts and engage with like-minded accounts. So far the app appears to be much less focused on news and real-time updates, which is a driving force behind Twitter usage. The high adoption rate Threads is seeing makes a strong case for brands to begin playing in the space and testing to see if they can generate strong consumer interaction and engagement from the app. Given its novelty, MMGY does not recommend allocating time away from other platforms right now but does recommend testing content types to see if specific content can yield strong returns.
- Notable U.K. Shifts:
- SUITCASE Magazine has been bought by German-based HS New Travel / Horizn Studios. With the future still uncertain, there will be an immediate focus on the digital side.
- Laura Millar has left Metro UK Newspaper and Claie Wilson has taken over the travel pages.
- Tiny Travelship is a new travel search engine that gives families firsthand reviews and access to information on the chicest family-friendly stays.
- Lisa Smosarski has been promoted to Editorial Director and Board Director at The Stylist Group. She will be working with the editors behind the scenes in addition to launching a new Stylist column and the podcast “How To Work.” Alix Walker is now Editor of Stylist, working alongside Digital Content Director Felicity Thistlethwaite.
- Notable U.S. Shifts:
- National Geographic experienced a second wave of writer layoffs in late June. It will continue to publish monthly magazines for both print and digital platforms.
- June also brought major layoffs to the Los Angeles Times, affecting one of the largest newspaper publication newsrooms in the U.S.
- The New York Times recently announced the return of its popular column “36 Hours.”
- Imani Bashir, freelance travel editor and founder of travel accessories brand The Takeoff Collection, recently launched a new online travel magazine, Takeoff Travel Magazine. It will focus on providing content and useful information geared toward marginalized and underrepresented travelers. Bashir is best known for her contributions to publications such as The New York Times, Travel + Leisure and Glamour.