“Travel is no longer just about ‘going somewhere’,” enthuses Christie Hudson, Senior PR Manager for brand Expedia. “Coming out of such a long period of constraints and limitations, 2022 will be the year we wring every bit of richness and meaning out of our experiences,” is her take on a trend called the Greatest of All Trips (or GOAT) mindset.

Late last year, Expedia released its 2022 Travel Trends Report, which Hudson says has uncovered “a new wave of excitement … as travellers chase travel greatness to get their GOAT”. For members of the travel and tourism industry, it’s important to tap into the following five trends arising from the report, so that you can be sure that your clients’ next holiday is the one their dreams.

Toss the schedule aside

Whether you’re booking a trip on behalf of a client or about to guide a group on a tour of their choice, the idea of being schedule-bound no longer appeals like it used to. There’s nothing like an extended period of being house- or home-town based to bring out the desire for spontaneity, flexibility and a go-with-the-flow vibe. Because the study has found that a quarter of respondents are willing to live in the moment and another 26 percent are aiming at flexibility before anything else on their next trip, last-minute specials and free cancellation on accommodation and other bookings are items you should definitely offer up and recommend without restraint.

Entice with the upgrade

Cancelled year-end breaks with family? Postponed wedding and (big) birthday celebrations? You won’t believe how ready your clients are to indulge, upgrade and make up for what they’ve missed out on. And, of course, there is an element of splurging or treating yourself that can up the ante of a vacation from just okay to bucket-list level. When it comes to age groups, Gen X travellers are most likely to treat themselves to a fancy dining experience, while those between 18 and 34 are keen to ‘go big’ in whatever way is available – versus the more financially conservative 50+ traveller. Keep this in mind and capitalise on this mindset by presenting the best hotels, luxe flights and perks like spa treatments and wine tastings, according to client tastes and interests.

Tap into their curiosity

The next trip travellers take needs to take them ‘outside their comfort zone’ (22 percent of study respondents) and allow them to get lost in a new ‘destination, culture, and experience’ (19 percent). Too many months of armchair travel will do that to a person; so, be sure to enquire from your clients as to whether it’s culture, food and drink, events and festivals or an extreme sporting experience that they most want to take in when they arrive at that foreign destination.

Suggest the ‘sky-dive’

While we’re talking adventure sports, be sure not to hold back from suggesting those high-adrenaline activities that will allow your clients to feel young, ‘excited and exhilarated once again’ – 41 percent of respondents to the Expedia study are fully onboard with attempting such things. What makes for an unforgettable day or night obviously differs from person to person, but you’ll be fully within your rights to suggest the desert sleep-out, the lake skinny-dip, the sky-diving flip or the risqué singles bar, because at least one-fifth of travellers will be secretly glad that you did.

In-the-moment matters

Lastly, a change has happened in the way travellers are using social media and their digital devices. The trend towards mental well-being and mindfulness means 36 percent of the study’s respondents want to come away from their trip relaxed and rejuvenated, and 24 percent are willing to put those iPads and smart phones aside to achieve this. Be sure, then, to tell your clients about the no-wifi zones and and zero-reception cabins, because travel this year is going to be more about ’embracing the simple pleasures’ and fully unwinding from those daily stresses, than it is about capturing everything on Instagram to make your mates jealous. Who would ever have known that this mature shift in focus would take place, even among the younger generation of travellers?

As the saying goes, go big or go home. It’s time to be a kid in a candy store when you plan, book and embark on this year’s vacations; or, at least, when you lead your clients through the booking or touring experience. Like them, you’re likely to get a little lost in the right direction as you embrace the unknown in your work this year. And the word-of-mouth magic will come back to benefit your business. Enjoy!

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