Despite recession concerns and other international headwinds, a number of factors are buoying global travel trends. Skift Research’s 2023 Global Travel Trends report looks at a broad cross-section of metrics to gauge the overall health of global travel and the findings point to a strong outlook for the remainder of this year and beyond.
A few key findings relevant to the Houston market:
- Urban areas, which dropped in popularity during the pandemic, are making a strong comeback in the U.S. according to consumer survey data. 22% of U.S. travelers said they would travel to an urban center in Q1 of this year, up from 18% last year. By comparison, small town/countryside destinations represent just 17% of trip types this year, down from 20% last year.
- When business travelers from the U.S., UK, Australia and India were asked about the impact of remote work on their travels, the majority reported that they have taken more shorter trips and/or travelled for an extended time, due to the flexibility that remote work provides them. Among U.S. respondents, 30% say they’ve traveled for an extended time (10 days) away from home while 28% said they have taken more short term (less than 10 days) trips.
- As a result of greater flexibility around work, the blending of leisure and business travel has grown. Euromonitor forecasts that the global spending by travelers combining business and leisure will more than double by 2027 as compared to 2021.
- Skift estimates that global hotel revenues will be 1% below 2019 levels by the end of 2023, recovering from -8% in 2022.
- Families tend to pay the highest price for hotel stays, and they were willing to pay 19% more in June 2023 than in June 2019. Sales prices for the other segments have grown 20% to 23% over 2019. Solo travelers are still the most price sensitive in 2023.
- Despite a looming recession, global demand for luxury remains strong, with further tailwinds to come from the recovery of international and business travelers.
- The Skift Research team estimates that global online bookings will reach $666 billion by 2024, 26% above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, 43% of online bookings are via mobile in the U.S. compared to 79% in China and 60% in India. Mobile booking is expected to continue to rise.
- The need for human connection and personalized service post-COVID is driving new interest in travel agents. A 2021 poll by the American Society of Travel Advisors found 76% of advisors saw an increase in customers compared to before the pandemic, while 81% said they were hearing from consumers who had never used an advisor before.
- After falling nearly 60% due to the pandemic, tours and activities have been making a steady comeback. The industry is on track to regain 2019 levels by 2024. The sector is estimated at $227 billion in 2023, up from $183 billion last year.
- Tours (such as city walking tours), make up roughly half of the market. Many of the online travel agents in the space are in the business of grouping and curating individual attractions under one tour. These attractions on their own make up roughly 30% of the market, and finally other experiences, such as workshops, shows and events, make up the remaining 20%.
- The global cruise sector is expected to exceed 2019 traffic for the first time in 2023, with the majority of passengers coming from North America.