Will 2022 be the year travel and tourism recovers? Here are some predictions from the Googleverse that we’ll be keeping a close eye on over the next twelve months.

After almost two full years of COVID-related chaos, 2022 may herald the start of the back-to-travel boom. Although international travel will not be without its difficulties, borders continue to reopen, and travellers are ready!

Since the start of the pandemic, predicting travel trends has become a lot trickier, but powerful forecasting platforms like Google have their finger on the pulse. Here we’ve outlined a few expected trends based on Google’s recent findings. Even if recovery within the industry is incremental, things are looking positive!

More meaningful experiences

According to a 2021 Google-commissioned Ipsos survey, travel is primed to become even more personal, with a rise in ‘life moments’ — celebrations put on hold during the height of lockdowns and global travel restrictions.

From studying abroad to employment opportunities, weddings, birthdays and new additions to the family, many are feeling the need to travel in order to participate in meaningful life moments.

Current Google data shows a total of 78% of US citizens want to travel in 2022 for family events and special occasions. It’s a useful statistic to keep in your back pocket when strategising your upcoming marketing campaigns and product offerings.

Set the right price

A boost in travel demand doesn’t mean everyone is going to splurge on bucket list destinations. We’ve all felt the pinch since the start of the pandemic with shrinking budgets and global economies still struggling to return to pre-COVID levels.

According to the Google-Ipsos survey, 85% of travellers say affordable prices are the most important factor when selecting their flights, accommodation and activities in 2022. While this data helps us understand the general needs of our customers, it’s important is not to go ‘cheap’ in 2022. Rather, set prices that reflect the true value you can provide.

Cultural engagements

Along with travel for personal occasions, the experts at Google have also pinpointed a growing shift towards cultural engagements as a driving force behind future travel decisions. Their data reveals that 86% of travellers who have travelled abroad recently did so to seek out experiences specific to their cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

As for the primary sources for travel inspiration regarding cultural experiences, marketers take note… Google lists the following top three:

  • Word of mouth
  • Travel guide sites
  • Social media influencers

A call for sustainability

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has accelerated the transition towards responsible travel within the global tourism sector.

Results from the Google-Ipsos survey cites environmental factors as being highly important to travellers in the coming years. In fact, more than 50% of participants highlighted an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and support carbon offsetting schemes when it comes to travel in 2022.

This is a pertinent reminder to all tourism stakeholders that recovery in 2022 cannot be about returning to the old ways. It must be about creating new and healthier patterns.

Nurturing brand loyalty

Travel brands that take an empathetic approach and refuse to treat their customers as just as another booking number are poised to get ahead in 2022.

According to Google, 62% of US travellers stated a preference for using the same travel brands following positive experiences. This reveals how crucial each booking really is and why it’s also important to encourage return guests by providing top-notch service rather than just focusing on bringing in new business.

It’s a lesson we continue to re-learn each year: people want to invest in brands that genuinely care for them when the chips are down.

Safety and privacy protocols

Given the overall impact of the pandemic, there is continued demand for transparency regarding health protocols, safety, and data privacy. According to Google, 70% of travellers say respect for COVID-19 safety guidelines is important when deciding on a travel brand.

To facilitate tourism recovery in 2022, organisations will still need to meet their duty of care responsibilities, and comply with relevant legal and ethical obligations related to travel. It’s also crucial to have a robust plan in place to care for your staff.

A focus on flexibility

No doubt that 2022 will still have its share of challenges. According to Google, across the US, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, flexible booking and cancellation policies rank as the second most important factor influencing travel decisions, trailing price and discounts.

A total of 78% of travellers who took part in the 2021 Google-Ipsos survey stated that flexible booking and cancellation policies are a must-have.

Your partner in tourism recovery

Do you have a plan in place to meet your client needs in 2022? Team Wetu is ready to give you a much-needed head start.

If you’re new to Wetu, why not get in touch with us and discover how we can enhance your recovery?

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