The Big Picture

The Big Picture

If you’re wondering about the trends in travel in 2023, then the Expedia Group’s 2023 Traveler Value Index may hold some answers, including the fact that Canadians are the most likely to travel internationally in the next 12 months.

For the first time, Expedia Group is unveiling a comprehensive view of travel trends across Expedia, and Vrbo, and the broader travel industry in 2023.

The Index is sourced from the company’s first-party data and custom research of thousands of travellers and industry professionals across 17 countries, and discovering that these top travel trends prove there is no “one-size-fits-all” travel in 2023. Instead, these trends point to a year defined by the “no-normal.”

Jon Gieselman, Expedia Brands President, points out that: “When we look at Expedia, and Vrbo data together, we see a detailed and robust picture of travel into 2023.”

Gieselman continued: “We’re seeing a surge in trips to culture capitals, a new wave of interest in wellness retreats, and a spike in demand for outdoor destinations beyond just beaches and mountains — not a new normal but people branching out to unexpected trends in what we’re calling the ‘no normal’.”

The Index also revealed some ‘unexpected’ travel trends for 2023, reporting that booking a trip after binging a popular new series will become serious business in 2023.

Expedia research confirms that streaming movies and TV shows are becoming more popular as sources of travel inspiration (22%), closing the gap on the most popular source, social media (30%).

Furthermore, the small screen is now considered on par with recommendations from friends and family when it comes to travel inspiration.

Consider the following:

  • In Canada, more than half (60%) of travellers considered visiting a destination that was featured on a show or movie on a streaming platform, and 27% went and booked a trip.
  • Top destinations include the UK and New Zealand, with its landscapes featured this year in a major fantasy epic, Paris and New York also ranked highly, as well as the stunning beach resorts of Hawaii.

While national parks and outdoor spaces had big moments over the past two years, it’s now time for cities to see a comeback. Based on traveller demand, most of the destinations seeing the largest increases are all culture-rich cities where arts and cultural festivities are getting back to full swing.

As well, the Index reports that travellers are seeking smarter ways to see the world, without compromising on comfort or cool factor.

In Canada, 41% of travellers admit they are more concerned with value for money than ever before. data shows interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally.

In 2023, 28% of Canadian travellers plan to stay in 1-3 star hotels and 60% plan to book a vacation with added value inclusions, such as toiletries or free breakfast. Showing a shift in mindset from the post-pandemic bucket-list mentality and moving towards a more spontaneous approach, a third would rather go on more trips in three-star properties than splurge on one big luxury getaway.

Fewer stars do not mean lower standards, however. Many properties, such as Una Vida in Mexico, or Mama Shelter in Paris, still offer excellent amenities, stylish interiors and unique vibes as standard.

Out with the old, in with the new wave wellness. Almost half (45%) of Canadians are more open to wellness breaks than ever before but cite boredom with traditional wellness retreats and an urge to experience something more exciting in 2023.

To capture this awakened market, hotels such as the Loire Valley Lodge in France and Whitepod in Switzerland are innovating and offering advanced rejuvenation programs and hands-on activities that encourage travellers to get up close and personal with nature.

The quirkier the activity the better; Sylvotherapy, or forest bathing, and fruit harvesting are more popular than classic activities.

New hotels that cater to evolving traveller needs are opening around the world. These properties offer far more than a place to sleep, with destination restaurants, co-working spaces, and beautiful interiors as standard. From an art-filled social hub in London to unbridled luxury in Rome, these are the most exciting hotels to have on your radar in the year ahead.

Kitchen credentials are a must, with travellers looking to plate up whenever they please in their private escape. Almost half of Canadian travellers (45%) feel that cooking is a great family or group activity. Cooking at home can also be cost-efficient, with 37% of Canadian travellers plating at-home meals to cut down on costs.

And, when the best chef’s table is within a private Vrbo vacation rental, the top three culinary amenities sought after by Canadians are an outdoor kitchen or grilling area, a professional coffee maker, and an air fryer.

Rustic getaways are on the rise, as travellers crave whole, private vacation homes (the only accommodation available through Vrbo) with abundant space and exhilarating views. Cue ranch retreats, offering an intimate escape in the rugged wilderness. Think log-lined cabins, flickering fires and sweeping vistas.

Travellers can live out their western fantasies by booking a luxurious lodge, ranch retreat or farmhouse that fits the whole crew. Destinations across the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba spring readily to mind, but the ranch retreat is not confined only to Canada.

For a home on the range in Europe, travellers are booking converted barns and farmhouses in the countryside of Italy, Spain, France and the UK. Thrill-seekers can also embrace their western wanderlust in Australia, where farmhouses in the outback overlook acres of wineries and wild brush.

Travellers are also exploring unassuming locales and new places. Demand for Vrbo’s private vacation homes in each of these destinations has increased by 30% or more since September 2021:

  • Cape Breton, NS
  • Chaudière, QC
  • Charlottetown, PEI
  • Canmore, AB
  • Calgary, AB
  • Prince Edward County, ON
  • Winnipeg, MB
  • Québec City, QC
  • Cowichan Valley, BC
  • Saanich, BC

Travel in 2023 will be about saying “no” to normal, breaking routines and searching for experiences without compromises. Whether it’s flying to those once-in-a-lifetime events or hosting group celebrations at a holiday home, travellers are no longer adapting to the next new normal, but creating their own status quo altogether.

Industry Optimism

For the first time, the 2023 travel trends are being released at the same time as insights from industry professionals, from airlines to hotels to vacation rental hosts and more.

In a tailored report for travel partners, Expedia Group reveals the ways that the pandemic forever changed travel. The research shows the highest levels of optimism since 2020.

Most professionals expect leisure (71%) and business (70%) travel to return to pre-2020 levels within two years.

While travellers looking for a change of scenery kept the industry afloat during the pandemic, all eyes are on the return of international and business travel. In fact, more than half (51%) in the industry say business is their organization’s highest priority in 2023.

Another insight from industry professionals shows travellers are choosing options aligned with their personal values such as sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility.

Most travel businesses (60%) made changes in the last year to ensure their services are inclusive and accessible. In fact, sustainability is tied with marketing as the highest area of investment for 2023, with one in five industry professionals saying they plan to invest in sustainability next year.

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